I have a confession to make.
I’m a bubble convert.
That’s not an easy admission for somebody who prides himself on being raised as a hardy New England skier. Because if we have to hide from the cold, wind, and — dare I say it — snow, that might come with a day on the slopes, then what are we doing out there anyway, right?
I admittedly rolled my eyes when Mount Snow introduced its Bluebird Express almost a decade ago. The six-passenger lift, armed with a definitive, blue canopy to shield riders from the elements, sounded like an Alpine apocalypse. A few years later, Okemo came along and gave us the Sunburst, the country’s first six-person heated bubble chair. It seemed like we had all succumbed to a sort of plush bonanza better suited for celebrities at Aspen.
Did New England skiers and riders really need to be so coddled? Are the cold and wind making it harder for you to check your phone on the lift? Well, that’s sort of the point.
It wasn’t until earlier this year that I actually rode my first bubble lift, the heated Orange Bubble Express at Park City Resort’s Canyons Village. The lift was fine, mostly because the kids got a kick out of viewing the expanse below them through the large, tinted window. The ride was comfortable, with padded seats emitting a warm glow throughout my legs. And really, was it really all that more pampering than the nearby Red Pine Gondola, the sort of lift that has protected us from the elements for decades?
Fast forward to last weekend at Killington, where my family rode up the Snowdon Six Express, a six-person bubble lift now in its second season of operation. It was only a few days earlier when this lift had made the rounds online with videos being posted of the blue bubbles vigorously swaying in a stiff, Vermont wind. But gusts were lighter on Saturday, making it a smooth ride underneath the bubble, which was a welcome addition to the biting cold of our first day of the season.
If anything, the best part about the bubble lift may be that it means less whining about the cold from the younger set. I know, the seasoned New Englander in me has some difficulty with that, in the belief that a bubble lift is just the skiing version of “everybody gets a medal.”
But the father in me welcomes that comfort in skiing. After all, the less they grumble, the more they’ll want to go.
Southern Vermont wound up being one of the big winners from the two-day storm that hit most of New England earlier this week, with nearly two feet of snow falling on some resorts. Mount Snow reported 23 inches of new snow from the storm, while Stratton reported 19 inches.
It's been nothing but smiles and snow around here lately…bit.ly/ST-TrailReport
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Monday December 2, 2019 – Part 5 Fresh tracks…New Ski Area @strattonresort Jour 5, mois 171 @ski_vt @skitheeast @estski.ca . . #vermont #skivermont #stratton #southernvermont #snow #snowstorm #turnsallyear #skistreak #skieverymonth #skimonth171 #powderday #freshtracks #lowvisibility #skiing
The storm also gave us some of the first powder shots of the season from Massachusetts, where Wachusett (reporting 25 inches), Berkshire East, and Jiminy Peak saw their biggest totals of the season thus far.
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.
New England Ski Journal TV Show is coming to NESN this month. The first episode airs Friday at 6 p.m. with a trip around the Boston Ski Show.
That episode will repeat on Dec. 12 (3 p.m.) and Dec. 13 (6 p.m.) The second episode of the season will debut on Dec. 20 at 6 p.m. with a visit to Black Mountain and the iconic village of Jackson, N.H. and all it has to offer.
Be sure to set your DVR.