Next week is National Ski Safety Week, the time to remember the “Skier’s Responsibility Code.” You know that code that is often printed on napkins or cafeteria tray liners are ski resorts.
It includes: Always stay in control … People ahead of you have the right of way… Stop in a safe place for you and others … Whenever starting downhill or merging, look uphill and yield … Use devices to help prevent runaway equipment … Observe signs and warnings, and keep off closed trails … Know how to use the lifts safely.
But what about the other stupid things skiers and snowboarders do?
Not looking uphill before crossing a trail. Guilty of this one. I nearly bought the farm when I was broadsided by a skier on Killington’s Upper Cascade trail. I was on the High Traverse trail and, stupidly, didn’t look uphill before crossing. The skier who hit me flew over my head and flew about six feet. Fortunately, both of us were just bruised … for weeks.
Going down a tough, expert trail on the first run. Very guilty of this one, but learning. I’ve had friends curse me for doing this. Taking a few warm-up runs on blue cruisers, not only make sense, but is a good way to check your equipment … and your body.
Not putting the safety bar down on a chairlift. Have you ever gotten on a chair with a bunch of people and they pull the bar down? You wait and wait and finally do it yourself saying “coming down.”
I’m sorry I want that bar down; probably from that time in Utah when my ski hit a lift tower and I almost fell. Some lifts in Utah have no safety bars; in Vermont it’s state law.
Skiing and snowboarding buzzed. Back in the heady daze of the 1980s, it was common that someone would light up weed while riding in the gondola. Before that people would carry along “wine sacks” and sip the alcohol throughout the day. Some would finish the day by having a few drinks in Killington’s summit lodge bar and later ski down the mountain.
Yes, people still … indulge … but as with everything moderation is the key. Let’s be honest you not going to ski or snowboard at your best if you’re buzzed. And you’re more likely to do stupid things and endanger other people; not a good thing on slippery mountain.
Not drinking enough water. You need to stay hydrated in the moisture-sucking mountain environment. Ideally, using something like CamelBak hydration pack that has extra insulation to prevent freezing. You’ll be amazed on how much energy you’ll have if properly hydrated. Even stupider … not cleaning the water container in your hydration pack at the end of the season.
Taking a shortcut through the trees. If you’re not a good tree skier or snowboarder why take chances? If you want to be one, take a lesson. Slamming into a tree off the trail in the woods can be a death sentence. And if you get lost, you can be charged the cost of rescuing you. Have you ever lost a ski in the woods and deep powder? Grabbing on branches to pull yourself out of deep snow? Not fun.
Then there’s what they cal lthe “Deep Snow Immersion Accident. “ This happens when a skier or rider falls into an area of deep unconsolidated snow and becomes immobilized and suffocates. Not good.
Not wearing a helmet. I was guilty of this until this season. Yes a helmet will not save you if you slam into a tree of lift tower, but a helmet can help prevent mild concussions and reduce the severity of head injuries.
Who wears a helmet?
According to the National Ski Areas Association 93 percent of children 9 years old or younger; 79 percent of kids between 10 and 14 wear ski/snowboard helmets; 73 percent of adults over the age of 65 wear ski/snowboard helmets.
Forty-eight percent between 18 and 24 wear helmets.
Helmets are much lighter and cooler looking than they were years ago. Some helmets have embedded areas where you can put headphones. Others also have Bluetooth to hook into your phone.
Stopping in the middle of the trail. Stupid. You not only are going to get slammed, but are ruining the run for many skiers and snowboarders.
Eating too much during lunch. That huge burger, fries and dessert will taste good during lunch, but it will take you a few runs to regain your energy. I like to go for the soup and chili; just enough to fuel you up.
Buying full-price lift tickets. Blindly walking up to the ticket window and paying full price is very, very stupid. Before going to a ski resort check out their web site for price breaks. Okemo has one of the best areas on its Steals and Deals page.
Better yet, one of the best ways to save money on tickets is to join a ski club. You can save more than 50 percent off on lift tickets, on select days and resorts. How much? Check out the Connecticut Ski Council’s Awareness Days.
There’s plenty of other stupid things … like speeding through small villages … eating lunch exactly at noon … getting to a ski resort on a weekend day at 11 a.m. … not getting your gear together … rushing to make as many runs a day as possible … borrowing a friend’s ski equipment … crossing ski tips … tucking you ski pants into ski boots.
The other day I read a tweet by Thomas Cooke on the Ski Utah blog about the “6-inch rule.”
It read in part: “Seth Godin, a best-selling author, a well-known and admired guru to marketers, and an entrepreneurial visionary once said not to underestimate the value of positive cashflow when starting up your own new business venture. The key is to have enough. He said cash flow is like water. A fish doesn’t care if it is swimming in 6 inches of water or 6 feet of water. 6 inches is enough for the fish to survive.”
There hasn't been a huge amount of snow this year, but it has been snowing. In fact, Jay Peak in northern Vermont picked up 6 inches last night. This photo from Ski Vermont demonstrates the 6-inch rule.
Cooke said that same theory can apply to kids and snow and skiing.
“Here we are, spoiled Utah skiers, lamenting the fact we’ve been short-shafted on waist-deep powder days this year. But then I think of my kid on Christmas day. New skis. Blue skies. Neighborhood posse of 2nd graders running wild at Park City Mountain Resort. No complaining about the snow. Kids don’t care. 6 inches or 6 feet, they are still skiing and having fun. I wish I were still a kid,” Cooke wrote.
That’s exactly the kind of attitude we should be having in the East this winter!
Sure we too have been “short-shafted” by a snow-stingy winter. But we still have some good skiing and snowboarding thanks to the millions of dollars ski resorts have invested in snowmaking in the last 25 years.
That means we can still ski and ride even if we don’t have any snow in the backyard. We can still slide down our favorite mountains, go with our friends and family, eat and drink at our favorite ski town restaurants and bars. And yes there is some natural snow up north to add to the classic winter backdrop.
This weekend temperatures will be in the 40s and 50s. Skies are expected to be sunny. An ideal setup (at least for March) that will make for a great ski weekend. So go ahead and go skiing and snowboarding; conditions are quite good even in Connecticut.
I’m still going to be praying for snow, but I’ll take what I can get and enjoy the trails that are open.
We’ve finally hit the mark – the coldest day of the season so far.
Ranging from -9.5 degrees on Mount Washington, to the single digit and teens in ski country. All we need now is some significant natural snow to get the winter in high gear.
Temperatures are expected to moderate across the East the next few days with an increasing change of light snow and snow showers.
That combined with great deals is the right combination for some good skiing and snowboarding in the days ahead.
One of the better deals is THIS Sunday at Mount Snow in southern Vermont kids pay their age for a lift ticket. That means if a kid is 12, their lift ticket is only $12. The deal is for “kids” 18 and under. Snow warns: “For some ages, valid ID may be required for verification.” If you’ve been looking to take the kids skiing or snowboarding this is it!
On Thursday at Mount Snow, college students pay just $29 for a lift ticket on Thursday with a valid ID.
Hunter Mountain in New York is also giving college students a discount; $35 tickets through Friday and from Sunday to next Friday.
At Okemo in Vermont when skiers and riders pre-buy a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday lift ticket online in advance, they pay just $49. This offer is valid every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday through the month of January.
Also at Okemo, kids ski or ride for $1 when their family stays at an Okemo Mountain Resort managed property for at least two nights in January (excluding MLK weekend). In addition, if they book three nights, everyone stays the third night free.
Jiminy Peak in northeastern Mass. has just posted a number of e-coupon days through March that can greatly reduce the price of a lift ticket. Even better, some are on weekend day. Check them out here.
Despite the lack of a major snowfall, ski areas from New York State to Maine are steadily expanding terrain thanks to continued snowmaking. Both Okemo and Stowe in Vermont are nearly the 50 percent mark of having all its trails open. Sunday River in Maine leads the pack in that state with 53 of its 132 trails. Loon and Sunapee have half their trails open in New Hampshire.
In New York, Hunter’s got 31 of 55 trails open, Belleayre has 16 and the big mountain of Whiteface is reporting 35 of 86 open.
Massachusetts areas like Butternut, Catamount and Jiminy Peak are pushing to get 75 percent of their terrain open. And in Connecticut…Ski Sundown now has all 15 trails open.
A post on Sugarbush’s Facebook page from late Wednesday: ”It was totally dumping all day at the mountain, 12″ or more and still coming down. At points, Valley House was not visible from Gate House, maybe 2″ an hour. Burlington got nothing, Boston was sunny all day, Sugarbush was in the snow globe. Last run was best and rumors of rope drops tomorrow should have pow-hounds here early. Game on!”
In southern Vermont, areas like Mount Snow, Okemo and Stratton were less fortunate with the inch or two from Wednesday’s storm.
New Hampshire areas also picked up a few inches. In fact, loon got 14 inches in the last six days.
Also this makes it a more compelling reason to head north for New Year’s weekend, especially since many resorts have rooms available.
At Mount Snow in Vermont there will be free demo boards from Burton, Forum, and Never Summer out in front of Backside Snowboard Shop. A credit card and driver’s license will be required for security deposit.
Over in at their Snowboard school they will be offering FREE group lessons at 9:15, 11:15, and 1:15. All you need to do is meet at the bottom of Launch Pad just outside the Discovery building.
Stratton in southern Vermont will also be offering a free group snowboarding lesson at 9:45 a.m Sunday.
Ski Sundown in New Hartford will have lifts turning starting at 8 a.m. Saturday. It plans to have six trails open: Canyon Run, Nor’easter, Exhibition, Stinger, Temptor and Little Joe.
Best bet: Buy a two-hour ticket for $31, instead of an all-day one for $55. The clock starts ticking when you buy it.
Mohawk Mountain will start its 65th season on Saturday. Viewing their webcam it looks like they’ve made lots of snow. New this season is a four- and eight-hour flex tickets . The price on Friday, Saturday and Sunday is $54 for eight, $49 for four.
Best bet: Want to save money? Ski/ride midweek for $30 ($5 more than last season).
Mount Southington. Scheduled to open Thursday, Dec. 22. Print out this coupon to get $10 off an eight-hour ticket on opening day.
Woodbury. Opened weeks ago. Will have at least two trails open this weekend. Check out its livecam.
Butternut will open Friday and expects to have 10 trails open. They will also have lifts turning through the weekend.
Catamount will open Saturday with nine trails and four lifts running. No word on whether there will be a discount on its $61 Saturday or Sunday ticket.
Jiminy Peak. Already open with 15 trails, the resort will start night skiing/snowboarding on Saturday. Best bet: Go online and print e-coupons. For Friday, it’s only $25 and on Sunday, it’s $40 for an eight-hour ticket or $30 for a twilight one. Note: You need to print them out 24 hours in advance.
Berkshire East will open Sunday. They made snow on on Exhibition, Big Chief, all of the base area, Competition, Upper Competition, War Dance and Upper Flying Cloud.
Tip: Got a nice discount page, including $5 off tickets for AAA members.
VERMONT and NEW HAMPSHIRE
Nearly all Vermont areas will be open this weekend. Don’t expect lots of terrain open, but nearly all have satisfying top-to-bottom runs. Killington leads the pack with just under 30 trails. Ski Vermont has all the details.
Over in New Hampshire, best bests are Bretton Woods and Loon. Ski New Hampshire has the last updates and quick links to all resorts.
Ski resorts around New England should not be crowded this weekend because many people are wrapped up in holiday plans.
A layer of fresh snow covers the mountains around Killington in Vermont Thursday morning.
Finally … some good news from Ski County … snow. And to top it off cold temperatures for snowmaking!
No it wasn’t a large snowfall … between 4 and 8 inches across New England … but it was just enough for skiers and snowboarders to get excited that the early season seems to have turned a corner for the better. It’s about time.
In Vermont, Smugglers is logging in with 6 inches, Killington with 5 inches, Okemo and Stowe up to 4. Unfortunately, the quick-moving storm did not live up to some forecasters predictions of more than a foot of snow.
The new snow won’t open up lots of new terrain, but the cold temperatures will allow snowmakers to cover lost ground in preparation for the holiday hoards in a couple of weeks. The long range forecast has several days of good nighttime snowmaking.
Look for trail counts to increase greatly by next weekend.
Mohawk Mountain in Connecticut had hoped to open Saturday, but that looks questionable at this point. But it is possible with its extensive snowmaking arsenal. Other state areas including Ski Sundown in New Hartford and Mount Southington are shooting for an opening next Saturday.
The outlook for the weekend looks good. Sure there still isn’t alot of terrain open, but there should be a nice packed power surface on the trails.
Sugarbush in Vermont got a few inches, but conditions seem less than ideal today. The Bush is reporting windy conditions. Check out its live cam at the base.
Okemo in Vermont is shooting to have top-to-bottom skiing/snowboarding this weekend. ”We made snow on Countdown, Drop Off, Timberline, Defiance, Lower World Cup, Upper Arrow, and Sapphire last night, and will continue to make snow on Upper Arrow, Lower World Cup, and Jolly Green Giant through today. The wind up top is brisk, so be sure to throw a neck gaitor on to stay warm while skiing the machine groomed snow on Buckhorn, Countdown, Upper World Cup, and Drop Off,” Okemo reported this morning.
Killington is now up to 15 trails with top-to-bottom skiing/snowboarding “under the guns” on Killington Peak and Snowdown. Check out the live cam of the K1 gondola heading to the summit.
More ski areas will also be open this weekend. They include:
Stratton in southern Vermont is closed today to get ready for the weekend.
“Our hard-earned base took a hit yesterday,” Stratton reports, “We will spend the day earning it back since the temperatures dropped substantially during the night giving our snowmakers their best opportunity so far. We’re letting her rip today and blasting snow from base to peak. Our crew has been out all night turning the guns on Black Bear, Polar Bear and Frank’s Fall Line (North American), and is moving onto lower mountain trails, including Grizzly Access, Suntanner and Village Walk and more.”
Mount Snow in Vermont that has been itching to go for weeks. Snow will also be firing up its new lift The Bluebird Express that, thankfully, replaces the slow moving Standard chair.
Bromley in southern Vermont will open at 9 a.m. Sunday.
Bolton in northern Vermont will open Saturday with the Mid-Mountain and Mighty Mite lifts with skiing and riding on Bear Run, Beech Seal and Mighty Mite.
Jiminy Peak in Massachusetts on its Facebook page reports: ”4″ at the base, 8″ of snow at the summit. And even better? Snowmaking weather has finally arrived! Snowguns began running about 4am. It looks like we’ll have some good nights coming up for snowmaking. Fingers crossed that we can at least open a few lower mtn trails this weekend.”
“As temperatures swung in our favor Wednesday night, the opposite happened last night, more proof that Mother Nature enjoys toying with us. After a good start to snowmaking Wednesday night and through the day on Thursday, temperatures rose Thursday night and we could not make as much snow as we had expected.
“Our hard-working mountain operations team is on the hill right now assessing conditions and we’ll have more news as soon as they report back. If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a million times: the weather this time of year is extremely unpredictable. Everyone here is ready and waiting to open and we’re doing everything in our power to get the mountain open while keeping a watchful eye on the weather’s constant mood swings.”
And what about Mount Snow, also in Vermont?
GM Kelly Pawak summed it up on her blog on the prospect of opening this weekend: ”Too early to tell. Can’t imagine how we could possibly be ready by Saturday but I will give Sunday a slight chance – we will know more by Friday.”
Over it New Hampshire, it’s the same deal. Only two areas are open; Loon and Bretton Woods, but only with a dozen trails between them.
And Massachusetts? Fuh-gedda-boud-dit. They are hoping to open next weekend.