I was in Florida last weekend, the sort of destination that pops up every so often on the family calendar during ski season and leaves me gnashing my teeth.
After all, can’t Mickey wait until the trail count around here has started to diminish? It’s usually pretty hard to watch from afar as your skiing and snowboarding brethren are making turns while you’re left merely waiting for yours on Peter Pan.
This was not one of those weekends.
Sorry to say, there was little jealousy to be had while assessing the skiing and riding conditions in New England via social media. It was wet and gloomy, which made rain parkas the decided fashion for many on Saturday. Woof.
I get it, skiing in the rain beats working on any day. Soft turns are better than no turns. But let’s at least keep the glass half-full instead of overflowing with manufactured optimism.
It sure looked ugly from afar, and some mountains took the hit. New Hampshire’s Black Mountain, which had aimed to open last Saturday, instead pushed its opening date back to this Friday, citing the “incoming premature snow,” a fancy phrase for rain.
Add in some freezing precipitation that greeted the start of the week, and it appeared as if we were already bound for our annual January thaw/malaise one month early. But temperatures also dipped enough to allow snow crews to work their magic and allow many ski areas to rebound with better conditions.
Then, Tuesday brought anywhere from four-to-six inches of natural snow to resorts across most of Vermont and New Hampshire, a recharge that has helped to add substantial depth and expand terrain. Jay Peak has seen more than a foot this week. Cannon Mountain welcomed four inches, the same amount that Sunday River awoke to on Wednesday, all while the Maine resort was busy blowing 9,000 gallons of water into snow, every minute through hundreds of snow guns on dozens of trails.
It has, indeed, been a good rebound. Just in time for holiday break.
For sure, a wet stretch like we saw on Saturday is the last thing resorts need around the school break, one of the most pivotal business periods for the industry. Maybe getting it out of the way a week early was just what we all needed.
Happy ski year
Speaking of holiday week, if you haven’t made your plans to spend New Year’s Eve in ski country, there’s still plenty of time. New England Ski Journal correspondent Josh Laskin recently complied a list of seven ways to spend the evening after spending the day on the hill. Whether you’re in the mood for a torchlight parade at Sugarbush, fireworks at Gunstock, or a long night out at the Pickle Barrel or Rusty Nail, there’s bound to be something for everybody.
Hitchin’ a ride
Uber is getting into the snow sports business. The popular ride-sharing company has introduced “Uber Ski,” a new feature that allows skiers and riders the ability to order an Uber ride that will feature either a ski/snowboard rack, or confirmed extra space in the vehicle to occupy your boards.
The option of choosing an Uber Ski ride will pop up during the selection of a vehicle. For instance, a ride from the Green Mountain Inn, in downtown Stowe, Vt., to the base of Stowe Mountain Resort will run $27.01 with Uber Ski. A lift from the Green Granite Inn, in North Conway, N.H., to Cranmore Mountain Resort will run riders $20.01.
The surcharge ends up being about twice the base of the UberX option, but it is a convenient way to consider getting around a ski town should your wheels be unavailable. It might even be a good excuse to sleep in on those cold mornings, assuring the rest of your party that you’ll show up later toward the afternoon.
A new sort of snow cycle
A Nordic center in Vermont is enjoying its early-season conditions thanks, in part, to snow it recycled from last season.
WCAX-TV has the story from the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, where snow-saving practices have been happening for about four years. According to WCAX, “they piled the snow under layers of wood chips and tarps which kept it frozen through the summer. This is the first year they’ve used the snowpack on their trails.”
The center has been able to add the snow to their natural and machine-made amounts.
“So we started the idea of let’s make some snow that we can at least have a one-, two-, three-kilometer loop that’s consistent for our guests,” Eric Hanson of the Craftsbury Outdoor Center told the station.
Pretty unique idea. How many wood chips you think it would take to preserve an entire ski area though?
Steals and Deals
Each week in this space we’ll bring you some unique deals to keep an eye out for when you’re planning your time in ski country. This week, we present the New England Ski Journal readers special at the Comfort Inn and Suites in North Conway. Receive 10 percent off all direct booked reservation by calling the hotel at 603-356-8811. Visit www.northconwaycomfortinn.com for more information.
This deal is good for the entire 2019-20 season.