FEATURE ARTICLES

Cannon Mountain 2/19/2013

Four Leading New Hampshire Ski Areas Team Up
to Offer Special 2013-2014 Pass Deal

White Mountain Superpass to go on Sale February 23
February 19, 2013 - White Mountain Region, NH - Bretton Woods, Cranmore, Cannon Mountain and Waterville Valley ski areas announce the launch of the White Mountain Superpass to go on sale February 23, 2013. The pass will be valid any day of the 2013-2014 winter season at all four mountains. There are no blackout date restrictions.

"There has been such great success with our combined 4NH College Pass, we all quickly agreed that offering a season pass to everyone for the same four areas was an exciting proposition," said Chris Sununu, CEO of Waterville Valley. The 4NH pass includes the same four mountains, but is a college student-only pass and has been offered since 2008.

The new White Mountain Superpass will give skiers and riders access to a combined total of 284 trails, 41 lifts, 1,148 acres and 6,900 vertical feet; and it includes a special "Bring-A-Friend Bonus." The bonus enables the pass holder to get a friend $15 off the purchase of a one-day full-priced adult lift ticket. The offer can be used once per day for the purchase of one ticket. Pass holders may also receive a 10 percent discount from select retail outlets at each ski area.

"We think it's a fantastic value and certainly one of the best combined passes in the East," said John DeVivo, Cannon Mountain's general manager. "The Superpass really gives skiers and riders amazing options when it comes to choosing where to take their next ski trip."

All four ski areas are located in the White Mountain region of New Hampshire and all offer unique experiences. "From Cranmore's focus on families to Cannon's 4,080-foot summit, every ski trip with the White Mountain Superpass can be a new adventure. And we're all an easy drive from Boston and each other," offered Cranmore's general manager, Ben Wilcox.

"On top of getting access to four premier New Hampshire ski areas with this pass, we all offer incredible lodging options to fit every skier's style and budget, from the Omni Mountain Washington Hotel to quaint B&Bs, hotels and motels. There's something for everyone, no matter which ski area people choose to visit," remarked Chris Ellms, director of ski operations for Bretton Woods.

Skiers and riders are being encouraged to get the pass before June 1, 2013 when prices will increase. The special early-purchase price for the pass will be $949 for adults (ages 18+), $549 for teens (ages 13-17), and $449 for juniors (ages 6-12). The four-area White Mountain Superpass goes on sale on February 23, 2013 and can be purchased online at www.WhiteMountainSuperpass.com.

Cannon Mountain, located in Franconia Notch State Park, Franconia, NH is owned and operated by the State of New Hampshire, Division of Parks and Recreation. The ski area has 72 trails plus Mittersill Backcountry Area and 10 lifts, including the Mittersill Double Chair, installed in January 2011. Cannon is easily accessed from Rte. I-93,exit 34B - Aerial Tramway and Exit 34C - Main Base Area. For more information call 603-823-8800, email info@cannonmt.com or log onto www.cannonmt.com.


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Hunter Mountain 2/14/13

Hunter, NY – Hunter Mountain will be home to On the Road with Windells from February 22 – 24, 2013. The instruction-based event spans two days and is full of fun activities, park progression, product giveaways, coaching from the pros, and much more. The program is open to snowboarders and skiers of all abilities.

Windells is a year round action sports camp located in Mt. Hood, Oregon. Rooted in the progression of snow sports, it offers programs for snowboarding, skiing, skateboarding and BMX. In the past 24 years, Windells Camp has played a key role in the advancement of many of the world’s best athletes, including 18 Olympic Medalists. The On The Road with Windells Camp program aims to bring the state-of-the-art experience that Windells offers to its guests in Oregon to participants across the country. Hunter Mountain is one of three participating locations. The camp will also make stops at Keystone Resort in Colorado and Brighton Resort in Utah this winter.

Hunter Mountain is located in the Northern Catskill Mountains only two and a half hours from the metro New York area. It is renowned for its snowmaking capabilities and for having a wide variety of terrain providing skiers and riders with a big mountain experience. The Empire Terrain Park at Hunter Mountain is one of the top parks on the East Coast.

Reservations The Windells program at Hunter Mountain includes lift tickets, private coaching, activities with sponsors, lunch vouchers, visits from local pro athletes, a private park set up, video review with a coach, a swag bag, lodging discounts, and a goodbye dinner. To register for the program, visit Windells.com or call 1 (800) 765-7669. For more information regarding Hunter Mountain please contact Trista Chiarulli at tchiarulli@huntermtn.com.

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Magic Mountain 2/13/13

February 13, 2013, Londonderry, VT— Saturday February 23rd is WinterFest at Magic Mountain: a celebration of Vermont winter sports, winter fun and winter fundraising. There will be competitions, a silent auction, great food, music, torch light parade and fireworks--all presented with the help of Vermont’s own Woodchuck Hard Cider.

WinterFest begins with the Black Magic Extreme Challenge, Magic’s home grown competition to determine who is the best skier or rider in southern Vermont when they are put to the test on one of the East’s “gnarliest” trails. The Black Magic Extreme Challenge is also a qualifying event for the Ski The East Freeride Tour (STEFT), with the top 3 finishers earning automatic entry into the March 2nd STEFT tour event at Magic. All registered participants in the Black Magic Extreme Challenge will receive a shirt courtesy of Woodchuck Hard Cider and have the opportunity to compete for a 2013-14 Magic season pass, tickets and some prize money.

WinterFest is more than just a skiing and riding competition as the Magic community also comes together to raise money to support the youth ski programs at Magic while celebrating the bonds of friendship formed during Winter recreation. The Magic Alpine Training Center holds its annual fundraiser for the children’s developmental (Devo), alpine race and freeride team programs. A raffle and silent auction will be held during après ski with a special buffet dinner prepared for all at the Black Line Tavern. Once the fundraising is over at 7:00pm, Magic is transformed into a festival of lights with a Torchlight Parade down the mountain, followed by a fireworks display in front of the lodge. The party then continues back inside with The Battenkillers continuing to play classic rock music from the Beatles and others.

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Cranmore2/12/13

North Conway, NH- Cranmore Mountain, located in the heart of the Mount Washington Valley, is the place to be this President's Day vacation week. With skiing and non skiing activities and a full schedule of family events, there is something for everyone.


This February vacation week includes a special farm themed Cranapalooza and fireworks sponsored by Tommy Hilfiger on February 16th, and a Hollywood themed Cranapalooza and fireworks sponsored by Rockstar Energy Drink on Saturday, February 23rd. Both of these dates include a bonus family friendly magic show at the Artist Falls Lodge from 4:30-5:30pm, with magician Ryan Mahoney. February also includes a bonus Cranapalooza on Wednesday, February 20th.

Friday, February 22nd, Stonewall Kitchen will be on the deck of Zip’s Pub & Grille with free product samples, and Rockstar will be on property sampling drinks on Saturday, February 23rd.

Cranmore's terrain parks are hosting their second freestyle event of the season, Saturday, February 23rd- RAMP Sports and Arbor Present Retro Fest Rail Jam. Grab your skis and boards, along with your best day glow gear and come out and throw down. Registration starts at 9am in the main base lodge and is $10 plus a lift ticket or seasons pass. The event will start at noon in the Double Feature Park. Winners will walk away with new skis or a board courtesy of the presenting sponsors and other prizes from sponsors, Dakine, Shreddy Times and Frontside Grind. RAMP Sports will be on property throughout the day with demo equipment.

Après entertainment is scheduled daily in Zip's Pub and Grille, February 16th through the 23rd and feature some of the best musicians in the Valley and surrounding areas.


All these family events make Cranmore the perfect place for kids to learn to ski. In fact Cranmore was recently named #1 in New Hampshire and #2 in the East for Kids Programs by Ski Magazine, and was also just named the #1 place for learn to programs in New Hampshire by the Boston Globe. Last year Cranmore launched its KidsRule Mountain Camps, lesson programs for ages 3-14 that focuses on safety, teacher training, dedicated learning centers and communication. Special discounts are offered for online reservations made in advance. More information can be found at www.kidsrulecamps.com.

February is certainly a busy month for the popular North Conway ski resort. Visit Cranmore’s on-line calendar of events for a full schedule of what’s happening all season long. For more information on Cranmore Mountain, visit www.cranmore.com or call 1-800-SUN-N-SKI.

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Whiteface Mountain 1/31/2013

WILMINGTON, N.Y. --- Whiteface Mountain, in Wilmington, N.Y., is a cool place to ski and ride. Not that kind of cool, you know cool… as in hip. As proof, MSN.Com listed the Olympic mountain as one of the 10 hippest ski areas you rarely hear about.

“I’m not sure about the ‘rarely hear about,’ but there’s no doubt that it’s a hip place to ski,” said New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) chairman Pat Barrett. ORDA manages and markets the ski resort. “Throughout the last several seasons, Whiteface has received a number of accolades, and of course it’s recognized throughout the alpine ski community for having the greatest vertical in the east.”

Whiteface, which is celebrating its 55th season, was the only eastern ski resort to make the list. The top 10 also featured six western resorts, two from Canada and one Alaskan ski destination. The article describes the mountain’s vertical, and characterizes the resort’s three peaks (Little Whiteface, Whiteface and Lookout Mountain) as more “Western than any other regional resort, especially when venturing into the Slides, an outstanding off-piste region that starts well about Vermont’s tallest mountains.”

Earlier this year, SKI Magazine readers tabbed Whiteface Lake Placid as the number-one destination for Off-Hill activities. The resort has carried that honor for 20 consecutive years. The magazine’s readers also gave Whiteface, Wilmington and Lake Placid high marks for its scenery (#3), resort dining (#3), après ski (#3), challenging terrain (#7) and mountain character (#8).

Additionally, Whiteface Lake Placid was also chosen by SnowEast Magazine readers as the East’s Destination Village. The publication’s readers also tabbed Whiteface Lake Placid New York State’s Favorite Ski Resort and the East’s Most Scenic Resort.

This Sunday, Whiteface is celebrating a Super Football Sunday, presented by Bud Light. Ski and ride all day for just $40 for adults, $35 for teens and $30 for juniors.

While at Whiteface be sure to try out the mountain’s new air bag. Jump, twist and flip like the pros all day for just $15. A waiver and helmet are required.

After a super day of skiing and riding the east’s greatest vertical, the party moves upstairs to the newly renovated Cloudspin Lounge, with Jagermeister Bud Light and Michelob Ultra drink specials and live music performed by Blind Owl Band.

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Mount Sunapee 1/3/2015

Mount Sunapee would like to invite you to the Dedication and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the new Sunbowl Express High-Speed Quad at Mount Sunapee Resort. This lift upgrade is one of the most significant improvements to Mount Sunapee in years and came about as part of the partnership between Mount Sunapee and the State of New Hampshire.

The new lift replaces a fixed-grip quad chair which was installed in 1998. The Sunbowl Express was installed by Leitner-Poma of America and is 4,224 feet long with a vertical rise of 1,055 feet. This lift cuts the ride time from the base of the Sunbowl to Mount Sunapee’s summit by more than half to 4.4 minutes. The lift services 17 trails in the Sunbowl area of the mountain.

New Hampshire State Senator Gerry Little, Selectmen Chair Richard Wright from Newbury, NH and Selectmen Chair Robert Bell from Goshen, NH will be in attendance.

The Dedication and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony will be at 11:00am on Saturday, January 10, 2015 at the base of the Sunbowl Express.

For those of you who do not ski or snowboard, we will make arrangements to get you to the base of the Sunbowl and back.

Mount Sunapee 1/15/2013

OPENING BAND ANNOUNCED FOR 2013 FESTEVOL CONCERT AT MOUNT SUNAPEE RESORT

Newbury, NH – (January 15, 2013) – The Pete Kilpatrick Band with special guest John Popper from Blues Traveler will open the FestEVOL Concert at Mount Sunapee Resort on Saturday, March 23. O.A.R. will headline the concert. In 2011 O.A.R. and the Pete Kilpatrick Band played to a sold out FestEVOL concert crowd. The guest appearance of John Popper from Blues Traveler with Pete Kilpatrick will make this show even more appealing.

The Pete Kilpatrick Band recently released their 6th studio album, Heavy Fire, in 2012. John Popper and Blues Traveler are celebrating their 25th anniversary and their 11th studio album, Suzie Cracks The Whip.

O.A.R. recently released their fifth live album and second live performance DVD, Live on Red Rocks, which was filmed and recorded at the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheater on July 15, 2012. The over two-hour 22 song performance captures the band in their element – performing an inspired energetic show to a packed house.

FestEVOL Weekend is a celebration of the end of the winter season featuring live music from top national bands, environmental awareness and spring skiing and snowboarding at one of New Hampshire’s top resorts. In addition to Saturday’s concert, all weekend long the Reverb Eco Village will be set up at the base of the mountain featuring businesses and products that support a sustainable environment, all-natural organic food sampling, ski demos and music. FestEVOL weekend benefits Reverb, a non-profit organization which brings on-the-ground greening to musician’s tours while conducting grassroots outreach and engagement with music fans everywhere. Reverb was founded by Guster band member Adam Gardner and his wife Lauren. Guster performed at FestEVOL in 2012.

The concert is held in a 24,000 sq. ft. performance tent creating an intimate atmosphere. There are only 2,500 tickets available for the show.

Ticket packages can be purchased on-line or at the resort at Guest Services or over the phone. Advance concert ticket packages are on sale now that include a concert ticket and full day of skiing or riding at Mount Sunapee on March 23 for $79. A full-day adult lift ticket on March 23 costs $74. Mount Sunapee season pass holders can purchase advance tickets and ticket packages at Guest Services or over the phone.

FestEVOL is sponsored by EVOL Burritos, KRU, Nordica, Tecnica, Blizzard, Stonyfield Farm, American Flatbread, Rustic Crust, Ben & Jerry’s, UPS, Liberty Bottleworks, Thule, Reverb and IZSTYLE.

For more information visit www.mountsunapee.com or call 603-763-3500.

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Stratton Mountain 1/11/2013

STRATTON MOUNTAIN, Vermont - A long weekend break from the grind meant to be spent on the slopes. Stratton Mountain Resort in southern Vermont has something on tap for every member of the family, from the diaper set to the high flying park kids to the lounge-by-the-fireplace types.

Snow-coated slopes and wintery-white scenery mean that it’s time to get serious about winter fun, from a huge amount of terrain to tubing, snowshoeing, dog sledding and more.

It’s all available at Stratton Mountain Resort for MLK weekend:

Sample the Mountain’s Best Hot Chocolate at Bentley’s Too. The new coffee and sandwich shop, nestled in the Commons on the Mill Pond, boasting an espresso bar and handmade European-style hot chocolate. Sandwiches, salads and lattes available with your hot chocolate. Open 11 am to 8 pm.

Riglet Park. Designed for miniature shredders, Stratton’s new Riglet Park has small box features and bumps for snowboarders ages 3-6. Open on weekends and holidays and free to all small riders with parental supervision.

New Yoga for Skiers and Riders. Designed with the winter-lover in mind, these classes feature movements to strengthen and stretch the muscles skiers and riders use most. Classes are offered on Saturday and Sunday from 4:15 - 5:15 pm in the new Living Room at the Inn at Stratton Mountain, for $15 each during the holiday weekend. Other new yoga classes are offered Fridays through Tuesdays every week. www.stratton.com/livingroom.

Live Music for Apres and Late Night. Apres ski for the whole family and music for late-night revelers.

Friday, January 18:

The Lustre Kings, 3-6 pm at Grizzly’s. Free.

Saturday, January 19:

The Lustre Kings, 3 - 6 pm at the Sun Bowl Base Lodge. Free.
Adam Ezra, 3:30 - 7:30 pm at Grizzly's. Free.
Twiddle, 10 pm - 1 am at Grizzly's. Ages 18 and up.

Snow Tubing. The lift-served Coca-Cola Tubing Park in the Sun Bowl is perfect for mid-day, afternoon or nighttime sliding fun. Open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays with warming hut, snacks and beverages. Tickets are available at any Stratton ticket window. www.stratton.com/tubepark.

Guided Snowshoe Tours. Get all the snow without the lift ride at Stratton’s Nordic Center. Guided tours, offered through the Activity Hub, leave at 10 am and 1 pm on Saturday and Sunday. Private nighttime tours are perfect for stargazing and include a bonfire, and are also available through the HUB, 802-297-4482.

Snowmobile and Mini-Snowmobile Tours. A great activity for big kids, younger kids and grown-ups alike! After the skiers and snowboarders head home for the day, explore the mountain on a guided snowmobile ride. Kids can ride as passengers, or embark on their own tour on mini Arctic Cats with a leader. Tours are available Saturdays and holidays and can be booked through the Activity HUB, 802-207-4482.

Visit www.stratton.com to find activities and savings for the whole family of winter lovers.

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JAY PEAK 2/24/09

Today was probably not the best day to visit Jay. An extreme weather system had moved into the region and, even though ice was forecast all through New England, I went anyway. At the risk of sounding repetitious, I've always believed that no matter what the weathermen say, it doesn't mean squat at Jay. And, although rain was predicted, I knew Jay would be different. I was right. Out of the sky over Jay Peak fell a dry, crystalline ice, much like the consistency of table salt. It was a fast, silent, and dense surface. Skis and boards rode high and edged deep. I've only experienced this type of snow once before, on January 20, 1999. None but one of my friends would follow me to Jay that day because, like today, freezing rain was forecast for the entire region. It was as incredible then as it was today.

The big problem with the weather was not the tiny diamonds falling from the sky. It was the powerful winds propelling them at such speeds that you felt as though your face was being sand-blasted, and even that would have been tolerable if the wind hadn't shut down most of the lifts. Upon my arrival I learned the only the Jet Triple would be operating and that meant access to only a handful of glades. Disappointing as it was, the conditions everywhere were great. We skied everything that could be accessed from the triple chair in the morning and decided, over lunch, that today would be a good day for some off-piste skiing. We parked a car on Rt. 242 in the Montgomery Gap and then came back to the lifts in another car. We rode the triple chair to the top and skied, out-of-bounds, down over a part of the mountain called The Dip. We weren't sure exactly where we were going but we were lucky enough to meet someone willing to trade some secrets for a ride back to the lifts. We had room in the truck and now we had a guide. Our newfound friend showed us a part of the mountain called The Ridge and there we found snow that was easily up to our chests. You couldn't tell at first because the skies and boards rode relatively high but if a ski came off, one quickly learned how deep the snow can get at Jay Peak. Everyone in our party was so enthusiastic after our first run down The Ridge that we all decided to do it again. Between leaving a vehicle at the gap, driving back to the lifts, skiing down, and driving back to the lifts again, it took between 45 minutes and an hour for each run. I really don't recommend that anyone ski off-piste at Jay (or anywhere else) without someone who really knows his or her way around. If you don't know any locals there, Jay offers guided tours into some of their out-of-bounds terrain. If you are an advanced skier, it is an experience you should definitely savor. You will never forget it.

 

JAY PEAK 1/27/07

The rain that fell last week was welcomed, for the most part, in a parched region that hasn't seen substantive re-hydration since last July, but I always worry how it will affect the ski areas (especially my favorite ones). I should know better than to worry about Jay. While most of Vermont was getting a good soaking, Jay was getting snow—lots of it.

The conditions there today were as good as they get, with the possible exception of those days just after a storm when there's nothing but powder (a relatively unusual occurrence in the east but not uncommon at Jay). But the weather today more than made up for the lack of uncut trails. It was an unseasonably mild day with temperatures in the forty's, sunny, and gentle winds. It felt like April, maybe March, but not January. I skied with no hat, so sweater, just a light windbreaker and gloves. And it was obvious, just looking around, that I was not the only person smiling. The surface was consistently edge-able everywhere.

The tree trails at Jay have always been, and continue to be, the big attraction for me, and many other skiers and riders. People who ski the woods here tend to look into the trees at other areas they may visit. Consequently, many of those areas are opening more and more natural terrain for the advanced and adventuresome. It's important to remember, however, tree trails depend entirely on natural snow and there is no lift-served area east of the Mississippi that gets more snow than Jay Peak. You can certainly find, as I have on many occasions, good tree skiing elsewhere, but if there's any question in your mind about adequate snow, Jay is more likely to have it covered. -P. Sachs

 

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KILLINGTON 03/02/09

Finally, after 37 years of skiing, I decided it was time for a helmet. I agonized for years over the decision. (Actually, I was tortured into concession by friends and family.) My argument against wearing a helmet was never rooted in a cavalier feeling of invincibility, only a question of comfort, the ability to hear, and the circumstantial evidence that almost everyone I know who wears a helmet (and no one I know who doesn't) has suffered a mild concussion--while his or her helmet was on. Of course, when questioned about this peculiarity, everyone has the same response, "Think of what might have happened if I wasn't wearing one." Helmet users tend to react defensively when one questions this icon of safety, almost as if you were attacking their child.

On my way to Killington this morning I was actually excited about my new helmet reasoning that it might filter some of the deafening snow gun noises that are typical this time of year. But, when I looked at the car's thermometer, I realized it was too warm for making snow and probably too warm for a helmet too. There weren't any tree trails open yet at Killington so I questioned the need for it. Nevertheless, I decided to wear the helmet and at least test it for comfort.

My companion and I got an early start and arrived at Killington's Base Lodge a little after 7 am. We suited up, had a little breakfast, and were on one of the first few gondola rides up. I was amazed to see so many trails open so early in the season and so many lifts running too. It seemed as if a quarter to a third of the ski area was open (this is a lot of terrain for early November). It was our first day out of this season and the warm temperature softened the snow into nice spring-like conditions but I wouldn't call my first couple of runs confidence builders. Within a short time, however, my abilities bounced back and I couldn't blame the helmet for anything. Lines were non-existent that morning so we were able to take as many as 6 runs an hour. The snow was soft and there were beaver-hut-sized bumps on some of the steeper trails. I wondered if my bump skills were still in the old database and if the helmet was going to mess with my balance. Again, I was unable to blame the helmet. My skis zigged and zagged just as I wished them too and my bump experience was most excellent.

Jack Frost has cooperated so far this fall and allowed for some serious snowmaking. The snow gods have also extended some early season generosity to Killington and other ski areas in the region. Killington is usually the first area to open in the fall and also the last to close in spring, but I usually shy away from early season skiing where only a few trails are open and typically crowded. But, Kudos to Killington for top to bottom coverage this early. If the weather turns, the snow melts, and the trail count drops, however - don't blame my helmet.

P. Sachs

 


Looks just like winter

Killington, November 9, 2004

Going out for the first time each year is special. I don't know exactly what it is but I know it's not the snow guns blowing icy cold water that freezes on your face and goggles. And, I know it's not the inevitable congestion of downhill addicts all clamoring for a taste of winter's wonders on a limited number of trails. Perhaps it's the exquisite flavor of spring skiing and riding we've all been savoring for these past six to seven months and it is now just too overwhelming to contain any longer. Maybe it's the crisp cold air filling our lungs, our thoughts, and our souls with something pure, clean, and abundant. Whatever it is, there is really nothing like putting on the boards for the first time every year. Killington provided an excellent site to vent all the pent up exhilaration that needed to be released. The snow was soft and inviting and triggered instincts which I, for one, wondered if I still possessed. But, they were there.

It may be another two weeks before other eastern areas open. How much longer can you hold it in?             -Paul Sachs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Killington November 16, 2003

When the first flakes begin to appear in the fall, it seems to me an insufferable tease to the hardcore skiers and riders of the region. These frozen crystals trickle down, begin to accumulate, and give us the false sense that it’s only a matter of moments before mother nature will blanket all with a thick layer of snow. But, it’s usually months before the omni-white look is ubiquitous. So, it’s no surprise that when an area like Killington opens for the season, there is a charge of sliding and riding junkies that implodes from every direction like a collapsing universe and it exponentially increases downhiller density to the verge of another Big Bang. The downside of this, of course, is congestion on a limited number of trails but the upside is well worth it. Stepping into or onto your boards, whether single or double, and feeling the force of gravity for the first time in months is a thrill beyond words. For the most devout, it’s got to be as electrifying as hitting an eagle on a par 3—I wouldn’t know (I’ve never hit a hole-in-one).

I did hit the slopes, however, at 8:30, which was late considering that the lifts began running at 8:00. I was still among the early birds though and my first half dozen runs were through near-virgin conditions (not to be confused with virgin powder from the sky). Nevertheless, Killington’s snow guns did an admirable job creating a fast, carve-able surface. In fact, a couple of trails, Conclusion and East Glade, had big soft bumps that were great fun ski.

To add frosting to an already great tasting treat, the weather was spectacular. Just cold enough to continue making snow but sunny with clear blue skies all day. Sorry Killington, I just can’t give you credit for that.

By mid-afternoon, the ski/mountain interface began to wear from the deluge of edges planing layers off the frozen base. My keenly tuned ears picked up the sound of cappuccino makers moving down the trials and I sadly realized it was time to call it a day. But, thank you Killington. It was well worth the trip.

 

 

Killington 1/4/02

Yankee ingenuity is epitomized at Killington as much as it is anywhere in the northeast. Mother Nature's niggardly deposits of flakes in this region didn't curtail their ability to provide skiers and riders with an exceptionally good surface. Made-made snow is distinctly different from the natural stuff but the differences are notably subtler at Killington. There's no argument that the wind-swept yellow ice is a trademark of gun snow, but the silky smooth deposits of crystals that the Killington crew makes are different than what is found at most other areas. Apparently, they are using the latest in snow making technology.

When I arrived, Dennis Demers, a very friendly volunteer who was working as one of Killington's good-will ambassadors, greeted me. He took me on some of Killington's signature trails and my edges and I were impressed with the surface. The bumps were few and far between where we skied but they were soft and fun to maneuver through. We hit pockets of fresh (gun) powder and experienced silent running mode, a condition I personally equate with near-perfection.

The only lift line I could find was at the gondola, but with a capacity of eight per car, the line moved quickly. We never waited for more than five minutes.

Three days after my visit, Killington received 12-15 inches of new (natural) snow. I wonder if I could tell the difference.

Killington 12/5/00

For the first time in years I let the month of November go by without skiing at least once. It wasn't because my choices were limited. Indeed, the season is off to one of its best starts in a long time. But the wait was worth it when a friend and I rolled up to Killington on Dec 5. While I was watching November slip away, Killington was busy making snow, helped by consistently cold temperatures and the completion of a major snow making project.

With 75 trails open when we arrived, I knew there would be enough terrain to keep us interested all day. What we really didn't expect, but were delighted to find, was a side-to-side surface of packed powder. Early season surface conditions can sometimes be, well, crunchy, but not that day.

With so much good terrain at our disposal we immediately set out to explore as much of it as we could. A quick ride up the K1 Gondola put us at the top of the goods. Our intent was to take a warm-up run down East Glade, then ski the intermediate terrain off the Glades triple until we found our ski legs. But the steep East Fall looked so inviting that we plunged in, carving turns in the soft snow until we found ourselves back at the Gondola. That's the way most of the morning went, interspersed with side trips to the Snowdon quad (where we skied a skim of new over small bumps on Chute) and the Superstar quad, where we skied under a man-made blizzard on Superstar, where more than 40 snow guns were blowing. Our contact in Killington's front office told us emphatically to check out Bittersweet, which we did - several times. There we found bumps and huge mounds of man-made with 15-foot drops on the downhill side, an early-season playground seemingly just for us.

After a morning of mixed sun and clouds, a darker cloud settled overhead and it started to snow. It seemed like a good time to drop into Cascade, whose bumps we had been eyeing from the Gondola all morning. Wind-blown snow made the bumps on the flattish upper part a challenge, but when we turned the corner at the old Killington double mid-station, visibility improved and we found a rhythm. Killington's aggressive snow making meant the troughs were rock-free and ice-free, so we could concentrate on technique instead of worrying about our bases.

As the afternoon passed the snow continued, adding a layer of new over an already good surface. It's clear that Killington's new water source, Woodward Reservoir, is being put to good use. -T. Durgin

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Weather permitting, it will be all white in 48 hours.


Tim Lund and Ralph Lewis in the early morning light.

Loon Mountain - November 20, 2004

Saturday mornings in November are, for most of us, an opportunity to catch a little extra shut-eye. Golf season is over and ski season hasn't yet reached high gear. There really needs to be a compelling reason to get up early—like an invitation to get on Loon Mountain's lift, on opening day, a half-hour before they open, for example. An invitation to cut first tracks and be the first skier of the season. I can't speak for anyone else but that did it for me. I was up way before the sun and arrived at Loon's lodge before the doors were unlocked. I was almost excited enough to forgo coffee—almost.

It must be frustrating for Loon's operations director, Ralph Lewis, making snow for three days and then have temperatures rise into the 50's but conditions were better than I expected. Media Relations Manager, Tim Lund, met me at the lodge and by 7:30, Tim, Ralph, and I were on the lift. Being allowed on a lift a half-hour before the area officially opened was a first for me and, although it wasn't that big a deal, it sure felt good. I guess it doesn't take much to make me feel special.

Skiing this early in the season is always a treat even though there's not much open terrain. The unscarred corduroy from top to bottom (at least for the first run) was almost as nice as virgin snow—but not quite. The surface was soft and relatively quiet under my skis (the eastern measurement of quality). Loon's trails were enough to get my thighs burning and remind me that I need to get in better shape if I'm going to ski a whole day on a mountain when it is nearly 100% open. How about you?


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Mt. Sunapee 2/01/09

Mt. Sunapee 2/01/09

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, nothing goes the way you planned it. Other times, without trying at all, everything goes better than you could have imagined. That's the way it was at Mt. Sunapee today. I woke up and my back hurt. It snowed the night before last (not last night), and thick fog had settled into the valley. I didn't think that skiing would be any good today. When I arrived in the Mt. Sunapee parking lot, the companion I was meeting was waiting for me (instead of the other way around) and I could see that the sun trying to burn through. Things were beginning to look up. The newer of the two Sunapee lodges is probably one of my favorites. It was built for people trying to walk in ski boots. We got our passes and had some time for breakfast before the lifts opened.

I'm certainly not a food critic but I know what tastes good and what tastes mediocre (I'll eat just about anything without complaining). My breakfast sandwich was not sitting in a foil bag under heat lamps—it was made to order and it had to be the second best I've ever had—the best being the one my wife makes (I didn't have to say that, she never reads the CSG).

There was only one person ahead of us in the lift line when loading began so however good the surface was going to be today, we would experience it at its best. Lately, I've used sound as an important criterion for evaluating ski conditions. The less sound your skies or board makes against the slope's surface, the better. Corduroy is never really silent but it was pretty quiet today. Not only that but the fog cleared, there was easily 100 miles of visibility, there was no wind, and the temperature warmed to between 35 and 40 degrees. In other words, this was the kind of day when ski areas take pictures for advertisements. Usually, I get bored quickly with groomed trails but conditions were conducive to high speed cruising and I was having a blast. Sunapee even had a couple of glades open that were in pretty good shape. Unfortunately, the few ungroomed trails were not bumped up yet and the heavy snow made maneuvering difficult.

Little did I know that this day was going to turn out so well. I'd say perfect but my back still hurts. -P. Sachs

Mt. Sunapee 01/26/01

I had the honor of skiing Mt. Sunapee for the first time with Mr. Cheap Skiing Guide himself on Jan. 26, which proved to be a beautiful day with not a cloud in the sky. It was also a day when many New Hampshire schools offered teacher workshops. We quickly learned that New Hampshire youth know how to take advantage of a midweek day of freedom from school. They do not surf the net; they cruise the slopes. And why not? Mt. Sunapee offers a fine day's skiing and riding for skiers and boarders of all ability. The mountain, with a summit of 2,743 feet, is a moderate mountain with great cruising trails groomed to a flawless corduroy that would make Lands End proud and served by a new high speed detachable quad. In addition to the cruisers, there is a fine new beginner's area and the Mountain Dew Snowboard Zone complete with halfpipe. Your best bet for bumps is Upper Flying Goose off the North Peak Triple, next to the curiously bumpless, Goose Bumps. My favorite slope was Upper Blast-Off from the Summit. The slope was nice and steep from the top with enough moguls to make the descent interesting but not so many as to make one fear for the health of middle-aged knees. Finally, the mountain boasts several glades that look like they have the potential to be interesting. Unfortunately, there was not quite enough snow in the woods for us to sample them at their best.

One can't leave Mt. Sunapee without mentioning its terrific new lodge that is actually designed for skiers. It is sunny and spacious with stairs that can be easily navigated by ski boots. Even the bathrooms are spacious enough to allow one to stretch while getting out of a sweater without worrying about hitting a fellow skier otherwise engaged. -Scott Labun

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Corn snow in the trees

Sunday River, March 11, 2007

My first trip to Sunday River for the season met with some pleasant surprises. The groomed surfaces were firmer than I like but, to be fair, it had rained lightly late in the night before and froze in the wee morning hours. Conditions in the trees, however, were surprisingly good and by afternoon, everything began to soften nicely. Spring was in the air and corn was on the bumps. Shockwave (the trail) was especially soft and steep. It was obvious, the season was far from over. I was impressed to see that Sunday River has something for everyone, whether you are a beginner or an advanced skier or rider, the right trail was there...you just have to find it. And there's plenty of hospitality representatives around to help.

-Paul Sachs

 

 

 

 

 

SUGARBUSH 1/21/09

At first glance, I thought I had picked the wrong day to come to Sugarbush. The surface looked hard from the lift and recent rains had thinned the cover on many trials. I chuckled when I thought about my request to tour the Slide Brook Wilderness area. Lucky for me, guest services had no available guides today.

But then it began to snow. The intensity of the storm increased as the day wore on and my experience changed with the surface from disappointment to total elation. By the end of the day, I was the loudest skier on the mountain, screaming and laughing from top to bottom. The snow was light and dry and there was at least six inches of it on my last few runs.

Sugarbush has always been one of my favorite areas. The terrain is naturally contoured to the shape of the mountains and the two distinctly different areas (Lincoln Peak and Mt. Ellen), connected by the Slide Brook Chair, give the skier or rider great variety. And, there's terrain for everyone from the occasional to the hardcore skier or rider.

Speaking of hardcore, I used to put myself in that category until I met a skier from West Virginia named Scott at a mid-mountain lodge on Mt. Ellen. He had recently purchased new skies and was anxious to try them out. Since none of the Pennsylvania ski areas he usually haunts were open (they are experiencing a mid-winter heat wave), he drove nine and a half-hours to Sugarbush, arrived at 3:30am, caught some shut-eye in the parking lot, and hit the slopes as soon as they opened. I realize it's only one man's opinion, but he picked Sugarbush out of a long list of Vermont and New Hampshire possibilities, many of which are hours closer.

Did one of your eyebrows just go up a little?

 

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SUGARLOAF USA 3/30/07

My first visit ever to Sugarloaf USA was blessed with fresh snow falling faster than skiers and riders could scrape it from the slopes. My only quibble with the weather was that I came all the way up to Carrabassett Valley to experience the snow fields but the visibility was so poor at the summit, it was difficult to see my ski tips, let alone the open expanse above the tree-line. Nevertheless, my experience at Sugarloaf was memorable beyond words.

I came as the guest of a business associate who put me up at the Sugarloaf Inn and bought me a lift ticket. As soon as the lifts began moving Friday morning, I was suited up and antsy to get on the slopes. When my companion suggested a warm-up run down a groomed cruiser, I listened. The pain in my back from foregoing the obligatory acclimation run at Wildcat nearly two weeks ago was an unpleasant reminder of what can happen to an overanxious skier. I took a few cruisers this time before moving on to any ungroomed terrain and did some stretching before getting on the lift. The surface was soft and silent and it hadn't even started snowing yet.

About 10:00 am the snow began to fall and within a half-hour's time almost an inch had accumulated. As the day went on, the intensity of the storm grew and by 2:00 pm, 6-8 inches of fresh snow had fallen. There weren't a lot of people there so it wasn't getting skied off. We were cutting fresh tracks on every run and each run got better than the last. At one point my companion began falling every time he turned to the left. After about the third crash, we discover the metal edge on the inside of his right skied had torn out from the ski-tip to the toe of his boot. We weren't sure how it happened as there were no rocks or other hazards anywhere to be seen but it didn't matter. We broke off the dangling strip of steel and continued on. There was no need for edges anyway.

At one point toward the end of the day and for lack of a better description, I reached a transcendental state of oneness with the mountain. It was on Ripsaw, an ungroomed double-black along the far-left boundary. The wind had pushed all the fresh snow into the troughs and no one had cut tracks through it. The slope looked smooth and there was no way to see whether you were on top of or in between the moguls. As I began my descent, I could feel the terrain nudge me upwards, a perfect opportunity to initiate a turn. As I came down I felt the same gentle guidance urging me to change direction again. I concentrated on keeping my body in the right position as the mountain guided my skis, silently and softly down the slope. I picked up a little speed and my Bandit XX's began to float. I was literally flying over the soft, fresh snow, not feeling the firm terrain underneath. All I could sense was the gentle persuasive force guiding the movement of my feet. If I closed my eyes I would have taken the same path but I'd have missed the experience of a lifetime. -P. Sachs

 

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Waterville Valley 12/00

Back in December I found myself in the company of about 30 ski instructors, gathered at Waterville Valley for an early-season workshop. I had been looking at the Valley's snow reports all week with an eye on how much terrain they would have open. Waterville can get crowded on a weekend, thanks to its easy access off I-93.

I needn't have worried. The mountain had just over half its terrain open, with room for all abilities. As we split into groups, we were given the choice of joining a slow, medium, or fast group. I chose the latter. It was a no-brainer; Waterville's frequently buffed trail network is tailor-made for fast and fun cruising. Our group made the most of it, taking advantage of the edge-to-edge cover. Cold temperatures and a stiff Northwest wind held down the crowds, but with Christmas shopping on everyone's mind I doubt the mountain would have been overwhelmed in any case. Even on Sunday, when Threedom Pass holders can begin to use the pass for the week (the pass is good Sun-Fri) and the weather was better, I never felt crowded.

With so much open and so few to ski it, the mountain felt like a private playground. And play we did, especially on two of the area's steeper runs, Gema and Ciao. The latter was slathered in new man-made snow, with more of it being blown constantly from a phalanx of snow guns. It was the closest thing to powder short of the real stuff, and we skied it again and again.

It had been several years since I visited Waterville, and I was reminded of why I like the place. First, there's the "access" road (actually NH 49) which runs almost entirely through the White Mountain National Forest. That means a welcome absence of development, winning the route my vote for the most scenic access to a major resort in the East. Second, there's Waterville's customer service, starting with a friendly greeting at the entrance to the base lodge complex and continuing to the lift ops. And then there's the fine cruising terrain, spread across a backdrop of National Forest.

Although our group skied fast and hard, we appreciated the surroundings and the snow. And I promised myself to get back to Waterville soon. -T. Durgin

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WILDCAT 02/28/09

Big snowstorms have been few and far between this winter so before I decided where I was going today, I checked the web sites of several different areas to see who had been blessed the most in the last few days. Of all of them, Wildcat claimed 23 inches of new snow, in the past week. It's a long ride but Wildcat is one of my favorite areas.

I invited a couple of friends, one who had just purchased a new pair of K2 Patriots, the first new pair of skis he's ever bought in his life. He was always tickled pink to get great deals on used equipment but found the K2's in a clearance sale for about a third of retail. He had been skiing on boards I sold him five years ago and I used them for five years before that. One can only imagine the techno-shock he must have experienced changing from ten-year-old so-so skis to these modern marvels.

It started snowing when we hit the road and was coming down pretty hard when we arrived at Wildcat. We got our tickets and headed for the lifts. It was pleasing to see the amount of snow that had accumulated on our jackets during the short lift ride. The snow was a blessing, both for us and for Wildcat. It was silent running just about everywhere we went and the snow refreshed the slopes all day long. We cut fresh tracks on almost every trail-all day.

Most of the area was groomed but skiers and riders were quickly shaping the new snow into some interesting and challenging terrain. The ungroomed trails were marked with "Thin Cover" signs at the entrance but with only a little effort, the few exposed p-tex eating rocks could easily be avoided. And as the day progressed, those trails kept getting better.

Wildcat has some nice glades but they were closed. I asked one of the Wildcat hosts if he could show us some unmapped terrain. He said that he couldn't but since Wildcat is on National Park land, people are free to go where they please; however, they take full responsibility for their own safety and will be charged for the cost of a rescue (if it is necessary). I asked if this policy applied to closed trails and he was reluctant to say what I wanted to hear. I asked some members of the ski patrol and they were less reluctant but, unfortunately, told me what I didn't want to hear. I saw some poachers in the glades as I rode up the lift and watched them scar the virgin snow. The temptation was strong but there was plenty of open terrain at Wildcat to enjoy and conditions were great.

Those of you who are still waiting for snow, head for Wildcat. -P. Sachs

WILDCAT 3/18/08

I was really looking forward to visiting Wildcat again, as I hadn't been for a couple of years. I remember loving the terrain when I skied there last but what I recalled the most was the incredible view of Tuckerman Ravine directly across the valley. I was hoping the visibility would allow a clear view and I wasn't disappointed. My first ride up the notably quick detachable quad was spectacular but what distracted my rubbernecking at Tuckerman was the condition of the trails below. I knew Wildcat had a lot of snow—every area in the northeast was blessed this year—but I'd never seen the double diamond trails, Black Cat, Starr Line, and Al's Folly so well covered, and not with ice. I tried a nice easy first run down Polecat to warm-up but the bumps beckoned and I quickly found myself cutting up the double D lumps on Black Cat. I probably should have been patient as the moguls were harder than they looked from the chair and I realized on my second ride up that something wasn't right with my lower back. As the day wore on everything softened nicely and the lure of Mountain Jag Glade, Catacomb Glade, Tomcat Schuss, Top Cat, and Lift Lion was stronger than the need to preserve my back. By afternoon, a thick band of clouds hugged the Presidential Range like a comforter and visually blocked all but the lower region of Tuckerman Ravine. However, the sun was still shinning on Wildcat's side of the notch and continued softening the terrain until late in the afternoon.

I rank Wildcat high on my list of areas with challenging terrain but they also have plenty for novice and intermediate skiers and riders. I'm impressed with the number of families with young children who come to Wildcat and I'm impressed with their facility too. It is clean, roomy, and comfortable. I hope to get back to Wildcat again this season...that is, as soon as my back lets me.

 

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