Sunday Telegram - SKIING
- 2001/02 Season Columns -
- November, December 2001
- "Family takes a
look back at 'best of' ski season 2001"
- By Heather Burke
- As 2001 comes to a close, we reminisce about
the year’s experiences. During our commute to Sunday River last weekend, we
found discussing the peaks and valleys of our past year on the slopes to be a
- We range in age and experience (though even
our youngest has skied 35 different resorts), which makes our family judging
as unpredictable and varied as the terrain we encounter in a New England
winter. Unlike most contests, you needn’t be eighteen to enter; kids count
since their opinions can make or break a ski trip.
- Here are the completely unscientific results
from our family’s polling of ski “poling” around the Northeast.
- Last winter was an all around winner. All four
of our judges agreed it was a record best ski season here in the East,
(an easy conclusion for those jurors born since 1992). Our senior panelist
likened it to the blizzards of 1968. Plenty of snow, no devastating thaws, and
superb conditions that extended well into April made last winter tops in
recent memory. Can this season possibly catch up? That’s the question on
- In our most difficult trail category,
we span New England to handpick paths of choice. The Goat at Stowe was the
winner. There is no other quite like it, (steep, narrow, twisty, crazy and
- Sunday River’s Agony got a vote from our
youngest judge for its big bumps, persistent double fall line and the exposed
aspect of the trail under the Barker quad chair for all above to watch. Mad
River Glen received a mention for the “au naturel” terrain, which provides its
own degree of difficulty during certain hard-core days. Mule Skinner at
Saddleback was discussed as another “ski it to believe it” trail.
- Best glades, not always skiable during
average “eastern” snow winters, went to Sunday River. We threaded our way
through the progressive gladed trails from wide-open Blind Ambition, to twisty
Wizard’s Gulch, Flying Monkey, Celestial, Last Tango, and Chutzpah to super
steep (and even “skinny” during last season’s epic snows) Spruce Cliffs. Jay
Peak received a mention for their expanded glade terrain.
- Now that every resort has a terrain park
in some shape and size, it is no small task to rate them all. As a protective
mom of two, this is not my favorite category. I prefer my young skiers be
firmly fixed to the snow, not launching in the air. Our young, hot, and hip
judges voted for Okemo and Stowe’s half pipes while the terrain parks at
Sugarloaf, Sunday River and Ascutney brought big smiles and modest air time.
- Best snowfield skiing was an easy pick,
since the only above tree line snowfields in the East are at Sugarloaf. And
this past Easter, our group had the rare privilege of actually skiing these
- Sunday River received the distinct narrative
of having the best snow quality, “like cold baby powder,” said our
youngest panelist. We ski around, and we all conceded that Sunday River’s
snow-makers and groomers get the nod here. Bretton Woods and Okemo received
honorable mentions for their powerful snowmaking and flawless surface
grooming, a veritable daily white carpet treatment for skiers and riders.
- Best Lift in the East brought some
heated discussion among the panel, literally. Everyone mentioned a “heated” or
at least enclosed lift in his or her top picks. The two gondolas at
Killington, the gondola at Stowe and at Mont Sainte Anne, plus the
bubble-covered quad at Mont Sainte Anne all received well-cushioned votes.
- Worthy of mention, but not yet sampled by our
critics, Stratton and Ragged both have high-speed six passenger lifts, more
couch than this crew of four needs.
- Vermont’s Mad River Glen was a write-in for
classic ski transportation, as it is one of the last remaining single (read
lonely) chairlifts in the world.
- The best ski area lunch, my personal
favorite category, was a tie between Stowe’s Cliff House and Bretton Woods Top
O’Quad restaurant. These two offer delicious fare and extraordinary views,
with much appreciated table service. I prefer being waited on for an $8
burger, versus balancing a $6 burger on a cafeteria tray while wearing ski
- The best on-mountain lodging,
specifically ski in/ski out, no car necessary accommodations, ranges from the
Green Mountains of Vermont to the Laurentians of Quebec. Okemo Mountain Resort
captured our hearts and our aching après ski muscles with a fully equipped
slopeside condominium complete with fireplace, a Jacuzzi tub, boot dryers and
a gorgeous view.
- Tremblant Resort in Quebec is a spectacular
slopeside village with a European flair. Tremblant’s accommodations range from
first class hotels to perfectly appointed condominiums, all tasteful and a
short walk to the lifts, restaurants and shops.
- As for the most scenic ski area, the
majority named Quebec’s Le Massif, a drivable 6 hours from Portland. This
breathtaking northern Quebec ski area overlooks, or plunges 2,526 vertical
feet down to, the icy St. Lawrence River. You just have to ski it to get the
- Domestically speaking, New Hampshire draws
some attention. Wildcat and Bretton Woods share distinct but equally
impressive views of mighty Mount Washington, the highest summit in New England
- Big Squaw and Gunstock each offer stunning
vistas of large lakes and big mountains, like Lake Tahoe’s of the East.
Maine’s Squaw overlooks Moosehead Lake and dramatic Mount Katahdin in the
distance. New Hampshire’s Gunstock is the ideal viewing spot of Lake
Winnipesaukee with the White Mountains framing the photo.
- The best ski resort for families
elicited a range of selections. Smugglers’ Notch was recognized for
“practically inventing the family ski week.” This Vermont resort offers a
mind-boggling roster of activities for every age and an award-winning
“Snowsport University” – not your average ski school program. Smugglers’
luxury slopeside condos also earned high praise.
- Sugarloaf, Pico and Ascutney each got a
family-friendly vote for their classic New England trails, lack of crowds and
convenient slopeside condos.
- We must not overlook the best mountain
mascots. Maggie the St. Bernard at Mont Sainte Anne immediately fills
everyone’s heart and mind. This lovable rescue dog is a fixture atop the
mountain, happy for a passing pat from kids or a photo op. Sugarloaf also has
a well-loved cast of characters, Amos the Moose and Blueberry Bear regularly
parade the slopes and entertain the kids, making this family friendly Maine
resort a vote getter from our little girl. Smugglers’ and Ascutney each have
skiing mice, named Mogul and Cheddar respectively.
- In the snow-reporting category, there
were sadly no winners. Resorts continue to overstate their trail counts and
snow accumulations, using what must be a ruler-sized yardstick.
- Consumers have a right to the straight scoop.
If resorts don’t want us to know the “real” conditions, they should eliminate
the fabricated “ski reports.”
- Now comes the real competition. Our picks for
the overall best ski area in New England (drum roll please) were as
follows: two votes for Stowe, one for Sunday River, and one for Wildcat.
Though all four agreed Sugarloaf is, “the place to be for spring skiing.”
- These are our impressions. Try a poll of your
ski crowd to discover their top picks for 2001. If nothing else it occupies
the otherwise mind-numbing drives to and fro the snow.
Bring 3 canned goods to Mt Abram on Jan. 3, as
part of their Tin Can Trio food pantry donation, and get $10 off your lift
- Conditions: Ski areas had
to “resurface” some terrain before moving on to blow snow on additional trails
this week. Maine mountains are still at limited operation on snowmaking
trails, but the man-made snow offers good skiing and riding. Let’s hope the
New Year brings a new wave of winter and a more generous dose of Mother
Nature’s finest fresh snow.
- "Need a reason to get out and ski? Here
- by Heather
- December 23, 2001
- The long wait for snow is over. We have
finally received some natural whitener in our yards and temperatures are
seasonably cooler. For those who have been postponing a trip to the mountains,
sipping your coffee over this Sunday paper, it’s time to go skiing and riding.
To borrow from late night television, which I generally miss for want of first
tracks in the morning, here are my top 10 reasons why you should head to the
- It is officially winter; both on the
calendar and on Maine’s mountains. Maine ski areas are all open and blowing
snow, laying out the white carpet for your arrival.
- While shoppers are searching for a parking
space and waiting in line for the next available cashier, chairlifts are
whisking skiers and riders to pure mountain bliss in mere minutes.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are historically un-crowded, prime ski
days. The same holds true for New Year’s morning - for obvious reasons.
- Skiing is a superb exercise, burning about
800 calories per hour, far superior to power shopping which offers a
fraction of that metabolic rate. Keep the holiday pounds off by making
tracks to your local ski hill. Medical research indicates that outdoor
activity and exposure to the sun, though minimal this time of year, will
stave off sun light deprivation – the precursor to mid-winter depression, a
fancy clinical term for good old-fashioned cabin fever.
- Early winter skiing makes for late season
strength. Sure the terrain is limited and some of your favorite trails
still need more snow pack before they can open. But now is the time to
develop those quad muscles so that when February and March peak conditions
arrive with soft snow and long sunny days, you can be the master of your
- If you ski now, you have a much better
chance of acquiring a record number of days this winter. Paul Schipper is
already way ahead of you, but you can still be ahead of your neighbors.
Schipper was at the Loaf on opening day, Nov 14, to continue his legendary
20th season “streak" of skiing every consecutive day that Sugarloaf is
open. He’s in his 70’s. What’s your excuse?
- Skiing is one of those “life-long sports.”
My 84-year uncle skis more days each winter than his age. Ski Hall of Famer
and legendary outerwear designer Klaus Obermeyer skis as fast as his age
each year. This is no big triumph when you are twenty-something, but try
being clocked at 82mph.
- What better way to get into the holiday
spirit than by surrounding yourself with sparkling white snow, glistening
birch trees and crisp mountain air? The manufactured snow may be made from
ponds and rivers, but it sure looks like the real deal. Take a side-by-side
- Santa has been known to squeeze in a few
jolly runs at ski resorts. He’ll be at Black Mountain in Jackson on Dec. 24
before loading up his sleigh. After his deliveries, he will be at Bretton
Woods on Dec. 25, letting his boards rip.
- You can shop at the mountain; tackle your
last minute holiday gift list with accessories at the ski shop. American
Skiing Company sells gift cards, which are redeemable for tickets, lessons,
food, and lodging. Shawnee Peak gift certificates can be purchased on line.
Give the gift of a “Learn to ski or ride” certificate for your non-skiing
friends. (You actually admit you have friends that do not ski? They must
have “great personalities.”)
- Give the gift of skiing to your family this
holiday week. Taking your family to the slopes means quality time together
on the snow. What will the kids remember years from now, tearing off the
gift-wrap on that short-lived toy or tearing up the hill with Mom and Dad?
- Events: Shawnee Peak will be welcoming winter
and praising the snow gods during their Ullr Fest, Dec. 27. Fireworks and a
torchlight parade will be a bonus for night skiers and riders at the Peak
Maine’s ski areas are finally all open and snow guns are blazing, just
in time for this important holiday week. Sunday River has remained open since
Nov. 10 and their powerful snow arsenal should have all eight peaks open this
week. Sugarloaf has skiing and riding for all abilities on over 2,400’
vertical including the Superquad.
The 10th - A Look Back At Ski Warriors
- By Heather Burke
- December 16, 2001
- 16,000 ski troops were on their way to the
Italian Alps, just prior to Christmas 1944. Today, 1,000 troops of the
modern day 10th Light Division are stationed in Pakistan and
Uzbekistan as part of the “Enduring Freedom” mission. This seems an
appropriate occasion to reflect upon the accomplishments of the
legendary 10th Mountain Division and recall how this
ski-mountaineering army began.
- The history of the 10th
Mountain Division is one of brotherhood, perseverance for global
freedom, and a passion for skiing that dramatically influenced the sport
- It was 1941 when Charles Minot
“Minnie” Dole, founder of the National Ski Patrol, proposed a
mountain division to assist with the war effort. His letter to Roosevelt
stated, “in this country there are 2,000,000 skiers, equipped,
intelligent, and able. I contend that it is more reasonable to make
soldiers out of skiers than skiers out of soldiers.”
- Recruits were difficult at first. That
changed following Pearl Harbor, when “Minnie” Dole received 15,000
applicants of volunteer skiers and mountain men. Famed European skiers
flocked to the 10th, including Rupert and Werner Von Trapp of the Von
Trapp family (you know, “The Sound of Music”) and Norwegian Torger
Tokle, to instruct the troops.
- Members of the U.S. ski team, who were
unable to compete in the 1940 Olympics, and Dartmouth ski coach Walter
Prager, joined “Minnie’s ski troops.”
- The first training camp was Fort Lewis
located near 14,411’ Mt. Rainier in Washington, the highest elevation
army base in our history.
- The press referred to the Mountain Unit as
an “elite” group since skiing was considered a rich man’s pastime.
The word spread and the division became larger. A new training facility
was built in Colorado, called Camp Hale. Here the men trained for three
years, learning to ski in all types of conditions, camping in
temperatures well below zero, and practicing mountain maneuvers and
- The men learned about Army skiing, which
was about endurance, not just schussing down the deep powder slopes, as
photos sometimes portray. The National Ski Patrol designed their
equipment for climbing and tracking over deep snow and clothing for
durability and sub zero warmth.
- The troops trained 5 days a week, but it
was during the weekends that they would share their love of the
mountains by exploring and skiing the surrounding Colorado terrain.
- The extreme alpine conditions of
Colorado’s Rockies in winter are credited with preparing the troops
for the harsh and arduous situations they faced when they were deployed
to the Italian Alps in 1944 and ‘45.
- The fact that they trained for several
years and formed such bonds of friendship and love of the mountains is
another theory behind the success of the 10th Mountain in
World War II. Their surprise attack on the Germans at Riva Ridge in the
North Apennine Mountains is considered a critical victory in the war.
- Of the 19,000 men of the 10th
Mountain Division, nearly 1,000 were killed and 4,000 were wounded in
- The returning veterans shared their love
of skiing in the States. Freidl Pfeifer and John Litchfield revisited an
abandoned Colorado mining town, not far from Camp Hale, named Aspen.
They transformed that ghost town into today’s famous ski resort.
- Peter Seibert became a champion skier, and
started Vail in 1957. He even named a trail “Riva Ridge” as tribute
to the landmark Italian confrontation.
- 2,000 men of the 10th became
ski instructors on U.S. slopes to grow the sport of skiing during the
post-war economic boom. With the influence of so many members of the 10th
Mountain Division, skiing became an extremely popular sport. 29
members of the 10th have since been inducted into the
National Ski Hall of Fame.
- New England members of the 10th
include Herb Schneider and Toni Matt of Cranmore’s famed ski school,
Jack Murphy founded Sugarbush, Karl Acker developed Pico ski school,
Kerr Sparks of Stowe organized the Professional Ski Instructors of
America, and William Putnam founded the Mt. Washington ski patrol.
- Dick Wilson of Sunapee New Hampshire
started “National Skiing” magazine, today’s “Skiing.”
- Here in Maine, Wendall Broomhall skied on
the U.S. team and started the Rumford Ski Area. Vance Richardson served
as a Gould Academy ski coach and director.
- “Doc” DesRoches of Farmington is a
National Ski Hall of Famer. “Doc” established the ski industry
management program at the University of Maine at Farmington.
- We have the 10th Mountain Division to
thank for their tireless alpine training and courageous defense of
freedom. There are numerous less monumental but interesting
contributions. The first snowmobile was developed during 10th
Mountain maneuvers. Studebaker designed the world’s first snow cat,
coined “the weasel,” for the 10th Division use.
- Today’s 10th Mountain
Division is based in Fort Drum, N.Y. and trains in the mountains of
Vermont near Stowe and Smugglers’ Notch. The original members of the
10th hold skiing reunions, some even hike to the summit of
Mt. Washington each spring to honor fellow skiing soldiers and celebrate
their brotherhood of the mountains.
- Events: You might want to shop for a kilt.
Sunday River will offer free skiing and riding on Jan. 1 to anyone
wearing an authentic Scottish kilt in celebration of Steve Craig day. To
join Steve, the crazy Scot who started this skirted tradition last New
Year’s, and receive a free lift ticket valid Jan.1, you must
pre-register and wear traditional Scot attire for the 11am photo shoot.
- Conditions: After several weeks of record
warm temperatures, there is not much news to report on the conditions
front. We have finally received our first natural white stuff. Nighttime
temperatures are now more favorable toward snowmaking. With the
State’s low water supply, let’s hope areas have sufficient water in
their rivers and ponds to pour it on before the holidays hit.
- For up to date snow conditions, call the
Ski Maine snow phone, 773-SNOW.
"The next level:
Some ideas on how to get there"
By Heather Burke
- December 9, 2001
- I don’t know about you, but I am more than
ready for winter. The folks in Buffalo are certainly wondering what’s up.
One year after the city’s snowiest November on record, Buffalo still has
not received any snow, another first in their history.
- Northeast temperatures have been 10 -15
degrees above where they should be in early December, record warmth
despite what forecaster had predicted to be a cold, snowy start to the
- “The pattern
bringing heavy snows to the West and little wintry weather to the
Northeast will likely stay in place through mid-December,” said Paul Kocin,
winter weather expert at The Weather Channel. “The East may still be a
couple of weeks away from any big snow dumps.”
- Janet Fisher of
Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University said, "The snow
will come and it will even itself out. What we don't get at one time, we
will get later." If she is right, maybe we received all our 2001 snow last
season and we have to wait until the new year (fortunately only 3 weeks
- Keep doing your snow dance, if nothing
else it prepares your mind and your quads for winter. When the snow does
come, you want to be ready to take your skiing and riding to the next
level. This could be your year to pump up the volume on your alpine
- The Next Level
- I have long been a believer in skiing with
someone who is more advanced than you. Call it peer pressure, rising to
the occasion or running with the big dogs.
- This is not about skiing fast and taking
chances, but merely moving beyond your comfort zone and trying the next
level of terrain. A little challenge can do wonders for your skiing or
riding if you have reached that dreaded “plateau.”
- I am blessed to have an in-home skiing
mentor who continually encourages me to ski untracked glades and steep
stuff that I might otherwise skip for an ego-pleasing cruiser. I speak of
my husband who was trained by an old-world Austrian (read “skiing drill
sergeant”) and went on to Colorado and Utah to continue his vertical
- Now our kids pick up any slack by dragging
us into terrain parks and mogul mine fields, we might have skied passed.
Admittedly these maneuvers keep our reactions sharp and our turning
- If your ski buddies keep you on your
(ski-booted) toes, buy them a round as thanks for their guidance. If
however you are the leader of your pack, you may need to step up your
routine and test your mettle.
- “Skiing with friends that are slightly
better than you provides you with a visual to emulate, which can really
help your technique,” says Dan Egan, 12-time Warren Miller film skier and
founder of an extreme clinic company based in New Hampshire.
- Aside from putting out a personal ad or a
“plea-mail” in a ski resort chat room, there are some worthwhile programs
coming soon to New England’s slopes that can bump up your slope skills.
- Race Leagues
- A race league, like Shawnee Peak’s Race
With The Moon series and Lost Valley’s corporate racing program, can give
you a new focus and help you with speed, control and carving throughout
the season. You should sign up for Shawnee Peak’s 10-week race series by
Dec. 21, races begin Jan 9. Lost Valley’s race program registration
deadline is Dec. 15.
- Titcomb Mountain will offer a race clinic
on Dec. 22 for high school students. “Our goal is to offer high school age
students an opportunity to come for a day of terrific seminars on many
aspects of racing. The Rossignol Van will be here from 8:00am-3:00pm with
race demo skis,” said Megan Roberts, Titcomb General Manager.
- Taking a lesson can elevate your skiing
and riding. Sugarloaf and Sunday River both offer Perfect Turn clinics
with their “pros.” Although that verbiage sounds intimidating, there is
instruction at every ability level, and different classes can focus on
specific techniques from bumps and steeps to carving on shaped skis.
- Extreme Clinics
- Do you want to hang with the guys in those
extreme ski movies? Dan Egan, along with his brother John and another
ski-star brother duo Eric and Rob DesLauriers, want to put some thrills in
your skiing and riding with their Xteam clinics. These guys coined the
phrase “extreme” and brought on the ensuing craze, now they are sharing
the tips of their trade to help improve your technique and enjoyment on
- Jay Peak is the host resort for their
XTeam clinic. This 3-day program, Jan.31- Feb. 3, is open to strong
intermediate and experts wanting to take their skiing “way, way beyond
current levels.” With the XTeam coaches, skiers will tackle every type of
terrain from steeps, couloirs, and trees, to air. The $989 clinic at Jay
Peak includes lodging, meals, skiing and video analysis.
- Big Air Clinics
- If your kids are looking to learn from the
best in terrain parks, bumps and jumps, Egan’s Big Air Clinic may be just
the launch pad. Egan, along with XGames gold medallist Mike Nick, will
host skiers and riders age 10 and up for this “free-ride” clinic during
- “The camps are all about what kids love to
do, jumps and tricks. We work with the kids and videotape them in action
out on the hill. Then they get more feedback during a pizza party in the
afternoon,” said Egan. The Big Air camps are $99 per day, offered at Okemo
Dec. 27-28, Sunapee on Dec. 29 and Loon Mountain Dec. 30 –31.
- Couples Only
- Meanwhile, marriages or significant ski
partners can benefit from Egan’s couples-only clinic, which he hosts with
his wife, a 3-time Olympian and pro-racer, Mihaela. The concept behind
this sell-out clinic is to improve the experience of skiing with your
loved one, particularly when you are at different levels. The only East
coast clinic this season will be held at Okemo, Jan. 3-6.
- Artic Adventure
- Last but not least, the Egan brothers will
lead a 12-day ski mountaineering expedition to the remote Torngat
Mountains of northern Quebec, just south of the Artic Circle. Adventurers
will ski, snowboard or telemark, and snowmobile to remote camping areas
where they (not me, they - this is not my cup of tea) will learn to build
igloos and ice-fish for dinner.
- This Artic ski safari is billed as an
adventure of a lifetime, with a highlighted snowmobile trek guided by
native Inuits across the tundra to the Labrador Coast. Skiing Tower
Mountain, a dramatic stand-alone peak, promises plenty of fresh tracks and
no lift lines, since there are no lifts.
- "The Torngats (the largest mountain range
in northeastern Canada) are virtually untouched," said Dan Egan. "There
are opportunities everywhere for first descents. Not a lot of people ski
the Arctic. Wildlife -mainly caribous, wolves, black bear, polar bear and
ptarmigan- easily outnumber the people.” This April 18-29 trip is limited
to 18 expert skiers with some winter camping skills (I now have an
official out) and $4,500.
- For information on the Arctic Adventure
trip, XTeam Clinics, Couples-Only Clinics, and Big Air Camps, you can
www.skiclinics.com, or call 1-800-983-2670.
- Events: Mt. Abram will be giving
free lift tickets to every firefighter, police, and EMS personnel in the
state of Maine on their opening day, Dec. 22. “This is just a good will
gesture, our way of saying thanks a lot,” says Bruce Mason, Director of
Marketing at Mt. Abram.
Conditions: Skiers and riders are
throwing out their Farmer’s Almanac and just praying to moody Mother
Nature. Sunday River is the only Maine area to remain open through the
early–season thaw. Throughout New England, Bretton Woods, Killington,
Smugglers’ Notch and Stowe have been open with spring like conditions and
“some walking required.” Many areas were forced to “suspend operations
until more favorable snowmaking temperatures return.”
- Sugarloaf reopened
this weekend. Most Maine areas are ready to blow snow as soon as temps
allow. Next weekend Shawnee Peak, Camden, Saddleback and Titcomb hope to
May Be The Time To Sign Up For Ski Vacation Deals”
a downright balmy week, temperatures have finally become more winter-like.
Most Maine areas have pushed back their opening dates to December 15 &
22. Sugarloaf closed after being open for two weeks and plans to reopen Dec.
7. Sunday River remains open with limited terrain.
silver lining to the past week’s rain (a four-letter word for ski industry
executives) is that it helped replenish some snowmaking reservoirs suffering
from the recent drought.
resorts have received the lion’s share of snow thus far. Over 8 feet of
snow has dumped on parts of Utah since Thanksgiving, and Colorado areas have
received 3 to 4 feet.
Rocky Mountain snow accumulation is up, western resort bookings are down.
American Skiing Company’s advance reservations are down 21% in the west,
while their eastern resorts are up 8% (as of mid-November reports).
Andrews of Sugarloaf reported that reservations are currently up 10%. “The
momentum from last season is phenomenal,” commented Andrews.
England skiers appear to be planning drivable ski trips this year. Travel
concerns have grounded annual trips out west for many folks, and those
resorts are feeling the pinch.
you do not have a fear of flying, now is the time to take advantage of lower
prices, and predicted fewer crowds, with a western trip. Airlines and
resorts are creating deals to draw skiers and riders out of a travel slump.
can shop for ski vacation deals departing from Portland, Manchester (hub of
Southwest), or Boston (cheaper fares, good connections but you must
negotiate parking and the big dig).
fly free to Utah in January on Southwest Airlines, a buy one get one free
airfare special. You can choose all inclusive ski packages to Park City or
Solitude. As a bonus, your 4th night of lodging is free if you
book by Dec 15. The website, swavacations.com allows you to customize a
package for your exact dates and lodging preferences.
fly, stay and ski free with United Airlines to Colorado resorts including
Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone and Breckenridge. Airfare, four nights lodging
in a one-bedroom condo at Vail, three days skiing, and equipment (even
helmets) costs $759 per adult, and the kids go free. Therefore, a family of
four can book a Colorado ski vacation for $1,518, a hard to beat price.
tour brokers are another source for deals. These travel wholesalers are
often the first to hear about airfare reductions, lift ticket incentives and
free night lodging specials.
Tanner, president of Ski Tops, an on-line clearinghouse of two-dozen
well-known ski tour operators, said, "With so many late-breaking price
reductions being announced on a daily basis, www.skitops.com is the
best source for centralized, up-to-the-minute information,"
operators working with SkiTops bundle together the components of a trip
(air, lodging, skiing) and sell them at well-below retail.
is another efficient site for surfing ski bargains. Plug in your dates, pick
a ski resort and a lodging selection pops onto your screen. I found a
four-day getaway to Aspen for $759 per person including air and lodging at
the posh St. Regis Hotel in downtown Aspen. Make it a seven-day trip for
$999 per person, small price for this world-famous big-ticket ski (and
the thought of flying still makes you edgy, look no further than our Maine
slopes. Nothing beats the value of a midweek vacation that you can drive to.
Plan it now so that when the snow flies, you are ready to go. Also, these
lift and lodging specials tend to book up quickly.
classic ski weeks at $299 per person include 5-day lift tickets, your
condominium lodging, use of the Health Club and a daily Perfect Turn clinic.
you go during their Family Fling weeks in early February or late March, your
kids (12 and under) ski free and you get a bonus ski clinic. That’s a $975
vacation, for a Sunday-Friday stay and 5 days of skiing for a family of
14-18 is Sugarloaf’s Children’s’ Festival, kids get free lift tickets,
rentals and lessons when parents book at least three midweek nights.
River has a similar deal January 13-18, an historically slow week in the
mountains. Parents each pay $79 per night for lifts and lodging at The Grand
Hotel, and kids stay and ski free and get one free ski clinic. Where else
can a family get a 5-night slopeside vacation including lifts and lodging
encourages long weekends with their third night free lodging promo. Get a
group together to rent a three, four or five bedroom slopeside condo Friday
and Saturday night - and Sunday night is free. The same deal applies to lift
tickets, buy Saturday and Sunday - your third day of skiing (either Friday
or Monday) is free.
also offers 2 nights for the price of one any Sunday through Thursday
period, all winter long except holiday weeks. Midweek lift tickets are $32.
has an on-mountain hotel overlooking Moosehead Lake with lodging rates of
$109 per night for two, or four. Add to that the $20 midweek lift ticket and
you have long, wide-open runs (1,750’ of vertical and non-existent crowds
due to its remote Greenville location), for relatively short money.
River’s Santa Sunday is Dec. 9. Dress up as Santa, donate a new child’s
toy and ski free.
In a word, “skinny.” Sunday River remains open with a handful of trails.
“Some walking may be required” according to the snow phone. Have no
fear, December is here and cold weather is on the way. Sugarloaf reopens
Dec. 7. Shawnee Peak, Lost Valley and Saddleback plan to open Dec.15.
great white hopes, Ski Areas Spruce Up"
By Heather Burke
- Sunday, November 25,
- New England skiers and riders had a
much-deserved dose of mountain confection last winter, and are now praying
for an epic ski season, the sequel.
- If the Farmer's Almanac is correct (past
pre-season predictions have been 85 percent accurate), we are off to a
strong start. Their 185-year-old secret formula predicts, "a
particularly cold and snowy winter — the first major storm will arrive
on Nov. 28, dropping 6-12 inches. Flurries and cold air will blanket the
Northeast for the next few weeks with another major storm arriving
- Let's hope these words ring true, and the
sequel lives up to the deep standards set last winter. Here's a look at
Maine ski area improvements for this 2001-2002 season.
- Sugarloaf ups its trail count to 129, now
the most trails in Maine. The new double black diamond "Cant
Dog," long enjoyed by poachers, has been trimmed out and legally
added to the trail map. This "new" trail, in the King Pine area,
is just east of Ripsaw and now the most easterly trail on the mountain.
- A kid-friendly blue-square glade named
"Blueberry's Grove," after the Loaf's mascot bear, has been
added to the Whiffletree area. Snowmaking has been upgraded throughout
Whiffletree, so popular with families and learners. The "Good Chance
Crosscut" is a new trail section between Timberline and Windrow. With
this addition and new green circle designation to the Timberline Trail,
Sugarloaf now has a 3.5 mile summit to base trail beginners can explore.
- Twenty new tower guns have been added on
South Ridge and Escapade to further expand Sunday River's impressive squad
of 1,500 snow guns. Your backside will be greeted with new seats pads on
the Barker quad, a comforting gesture. Fans of Airglow will be pleased to
learn that the Nebula terrain park will no longer dominate the popular
cruising trail on Aurora Peak.
- Not to worry, park and pipe lovers. You will
be elated to learn that The River is expanding and concentrating terrain
features in the Locke and Barker zones. A new Zaugg super pipe cutter
joins Sunday River's terrain-carving arsenal. "The Zaugg is going to
take our parks to the next level and make Sunday River the place to be for
serious riding," said parks manager Josh Lempert. Plans include
building a 22-foot quarter pipe on Rocking Chair, to complement the
halfpipe on Locke and the mini-pipe at South Ridge.
- Shawnee Peak adds four new trails, something
for everyone. "Every skier is going to want to ski 'Fat and Happy'
which has a narrow New England feel with a little pitch," said
Melissa Rock of Shawnee Peak. "Beeline" will be a second new
Blue Square. "Cody's Caper" is a gladed black diamond trail, now
officially on the trail map, off the Sunnyside Triple and "Last
Chance" is appropriately named as your final opportunity to get back
to the main area.
- Skiers and riders can expect to see more
features at Shawnee's Freestyle terrain park. For those who want to try
tricks on tires, snowcycle rentals arrive for the season at the Peak. The
cost for biking on snow is $15 for two hours.
- Shawnee Peak's weekend SkiWee program has a
new home. The new Alpine Sugar Haus should provide for easier drop-offs
and pickups and alleviate the busy base lodge next-door a "wee"
- At Mount Abram, snowmaking has been expanded
to the EgoMainiah Trail and to the Westside connection. A new race start
building means Abram can host more family and youth competitions,
including the popular Mountain Dew vertical challenge and the Jeep
- To improve services at the base, Mount Abram
has created a new rental shop, a renovated retail shop and ticket sales
are now in the lower level. All the children's programs and nursery have
their own home at the Westside Lodge.
- Saddleback is for sale, but you don't have
to come up with $12 million to enjoy the 41 traditional skiing and riding
trails at this remote Rangeley mountain (this year anyway). New this
season, four air compressors will increase the ski area's snowmaking
- Camden Snowbowl is adding a terrain park.
From the folks that offer championship tobogganing — this should be a
good one. Black Mountain in Rumford adds a groomer, and has increased its
snowmaking to cover 75 percent of its acreage.
- Big Squaw completes the room renovation of
their 58-room on-mountain hotel. It's no Deer Valley lodge, but the
reasonable room rates and the views of Moosehead Lake and Katahdin are
worth a look. Squaw also opens up two new glade trails off the summit.
- Lost Valley welcomes a new groomer, and the
return of three-time Olympian Julie Parisien as youth race program ski
coach. How fortunate are these kids to have a U.S. Ski Team coach?
Parisien also serves as the Ski Maine spokesperson, touring the state
promoting winter fitness to school kids.
- Improvements on the Lost Valley hill include
new lighting and a PA system to the racecourse. The summit warming hut and
base buildings all received a facelift, paint and polish.
- Bigrock hasn't moved any closer to Portland,
but this northernmost Maine area has made significant changes. The Mars
Hill ski area has expanded snowmaking, added a new groomer, increased
snowshoe and cross country facilities, and renovated the base lodge.
Expect to see big news from Bigrock, now under Maine Winter Sports Center
ownership, as they have hired a GM with 20 years experience from Big Sky,
Montana. (This guy is attracted to "Big" hard-to-reach places).
Sugarloaf will host the 4th annual Blues
Festival and Demo Days Dec. 7-9.
Sugarloaf and Sunday River have now been
open for 1 1/2 and two weeks respectively and are adding new terrain
daily. Other Maine ski areas are making snow whenever favorable
temperatures allow. For up to the moment conditions and ski areas openings
call the Ski Maine snow phone at 773-SNOW.
- “Skiers, it's time for a few
- By Heather Burke
- Sunday, November 18, 2001
It's time to get your act in gear, or to get your gear in action.
The perennial trip to the basement to dig out the ski stuff is upon
us. If you're a fanatic, you did this back in September and have
already made fresh tracks. For those who wait until first flakes,
evidence that there will indeed be a winter, you should be reaching
for your equipment now.
Families should assess everyone's boots and boards before hitting
the slopes. If your kids have sprouted over the past eight snowless
months, they likely need to upsize their equipment. There are a few
routes to go when your young snow-sports enthusiasts are in a growth
Many ski shops offer an annual trade-in program to address growing
kids' equipment needs. Joe Jones was one of the first ski shops,
dating back to the 1950s at the original North Conway store, to offer
"We take junior equipment, even helmets, in on trade. If you
purchased it here, we give you 50 percent back toward next year's
equipment. We really want to get the kids into the right size,"
said Neil Totman of Joe Jones Ski and Sport.
Putnam's Ski & Sport in Portsmouth similarly will appraise
equipment and offer trade-ins and a consignment program on yours and
your kids' old equipment.
The Down East Ski Club's annual sale is an opportunity to unload
gear that you no longer use, and to buy new and "pre-owned"
(to borrow a phrase from the car industry) skis, boots, boards, and
clothing at reasonable rates. Equipment you wish to sell should be
brought to the USM Gym on from 1 to 6 p.m. Nov. 23. The sale is 9 a.m.
to 6 p.m. Nov. 24.
If you are looking to upgrade your skiing or riding with the latest
technology, taking a test drive (another idea borrowed from the car
industry) is a smart idea before making a purchase.
Sunday River will host up to 30 ski and snowboard manufacturers
Nov. 23-24 for "Demo Days." Sugarloaf will offer demos Dec.
7-9. These events allow you to sample the latest products from several
vendors in real conditions. Other upcoming demo dates include Dec. 15
at Attitash/Bear Peak and Dec. 22 at Lost Valley.
You can slide up to one of several demo vans at the base of the
lift; hand over a license, major credit card and your old equipment
for safekeeping. In exchange, the representatives will set you up with
an appropriate model to test out — the key word here is
Ryan Snee, Atomic USA representative reminds consumers, "Demo
is not a synonym for rental. Some folks seem to think that 2-3 runs
means 'free all day.' "
A few tips to get the most from an on-snow demo experience:
"Do your homework, get brochures, and surf the Web," says
RJ Turner of Rossignol. Snow sport magazines and manufacturer Web
sites are overflowing with information and test results on the latest
equipment. Empower yourself with a little product information, and you
will be able to converse knowledgably when you are in front of the
equipment representative, the guy who eats, sleeps and breathes
"Go early to get the best selection," says Turner. It
is also wise to visit the demo vans between waves. If you see a
huge line at the Rossignol van, go to another vendor, or take a
run and come back when the technicians will have more time to
spend with you.
Give the equipment representative a candid description of your
ability and what type of skiing you like to do. "Tell them
the who, what, when, where and how often about your skiing"
Are you a level I, II, or III? That's ski code for beginner,
intermediate and advanced. Do you like to make short turns, or do
you tend toward long GS style turns? Do you like a soft, forgiving
ski or something with stiffness and snap? Are you a bump lover, a
tree-hugger or a high-speed cruiser?
Mark Novak of Dynastar says, "Be honest about your
abilities. The reps can help choose a ski that's best for your
skiing ability, style, and preferred terrain, and a ski that will
not overpower you."
Demo days allow you the opportunity to evaluate one
manufacturer against another. Once one rep has matched you with
the right product line from their diverse (often confusing) fleet,
you can sample similar skis from other companies to make a fair
Consider taking notes, so that when you visit your local ski
shop, you remember the exact model and length of each ski you
liked. Ski vocabulary is a veritable mogul field of acronyms,
numerals and codes. Was that the 11.20 or 10.22, the Axis or Mod-X
that I liked?
According to Ryan Snee of Atomic USA, the following phrases
should be avoided when requesting a demo: "I want a red
ski," and "It doesn't match my outfit." Other
phrases that may affect the service you receive include: "Are
they good on rocks?" and the winning admission, "Dude,
I'm like an expert and stuff."
Rossignol's Turner cautions against testing skis on your first
day, and on early season snow conditions. "How can you
compare skis when you are just remembering what it feels like to
be back on snow?" Good advice; unfortunately, it flies in the
face of the scheduled demo dates.
If you are unable to attend a demo day, you can still try
before you buy at slopeside ski shops. Ski area shops generally
have a few top-end skis mounted to take out on the hill. Expect to
pay about $50 for a day's use of these skis. That rental charge
will be applied toward a resulting purchase.
Finally, be prepared to be impressed. Demo technicians are
accustomed to people returning to the van after a few runs, with
eager grins and a reluctance to hand back the new ski or board
that altered their carving experience. I speak from experience. A
recent "free" demo resulted in a purchase of Atomics
that I simply had to own after a three-run sample that
revolutionized my thinking and my skiing, even though they didn't
match my outfit.
Conditions: For the 41st consecutive year Killington in Vermont was the
first ski area in the east to open, Nov. 7. Here in Maine, sister
resort Sunday River opened Nov. 10 for its 43rd season. Sugarloaf,
a 3rd ASC company, opened Nov. 14 for its 51st season. Big Squaw
and Saddleback plan to be open by Thanksgiving weekend.
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