Okemo Mountain Resort has been named one of the “2018 Best Places to Work in Vermont,” according to a list compiled by Vermont Business Magazine, the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, the Vermont Department of Economic Development, the Vermont Department of Labor and the Society for Human Resource Management — Vermont State Council and Best Companies Group.
This statewide survey and awards program is designed to identify, recognize and honor the best places of employment in Vermont, benefiting the state’s economy, its workforce and businesses. The “2018 Best Places to Work in Vermont” list is made up of 50 companies.
“At Okemo, everything we do as a family business reflects our desire to support our employees in what they do to create ‘The Okemo Difference’ for our guests,” said Okemo Mountain Resort co-owner and vice president Diane Mueller. “We were especially proud to learn that Okemo is the only ski resort to be recognized as a ‘2018 Best Places to Work in Vermont.’”
Taylor to lead Vt. museum
Stowe resident Deb Taylor has been appointed executive director of the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum. Taylor spent 11 years as director of Camp Sewataro in Sudbury, Mass., and has extensive experience in leadership, administration, communications, events and development.
Since moving to Stowe in 1993, Taylor has been an active member of the community. She has been involved in the Stowe Land Trust as a former board member, a land steward and a volunteer, and in the Catamount Trail Association as a trail maintenance volunteer.
“There is so much positive energy at the museum right now thanks to the enthusiastic, talented and incredibly dedicated members of the board and staff,” Taylor said. “I am delighted to have this opportunity to join them in leading the museum forward. We have lots of exciting ideas for new programs and projects to create more community connection and involvement. We hope you will join us.”
Shiffrin joins Ikon team
Alterra Mountain Company is the latest industry conglomerate to throw its version of a super season pass into the ring with the launch of Ikon Pass for 2018-19, an effort being supported by Olympic skiing champion Mikaela Shiffrin.
Burke Mountain Academy product Shiffrin is an investor in the company, which will compete for customers in the increasingly competitive season pass marketplace that includes similar offerings from Vail Resorts (Epic Pass) and the Mountain Collective. The Ikon Pass will offer skiers and riders access to 23 “iconic” destinations, including 12 Alterra resorts and 11 industry partners that collectively span nine states and three Canadian provinces.
Alterra destinations include Steamboat, Winter Park Resort, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain, Big Bear Mountain Resort, Stratton, Snowshoe, Tremblant, Blue Mountain, Deer Valley Resort and CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures. Ikon Pass partner destinations include Aspen Snowmass, Copper Mountain Resort, Eldora Mountain Resort, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Big Sky Resort, Killington Resort, Sunday River, Sugarloaf, Loon Mountain Resort, Alta Ski Area and Snowbird.
Shiffrin was the youngest woman in U.S. history to win a world championship and the youngest athlete in history to win an Olympic slalom gold medal. “I grew up skiing on mountains big and small with my family, so when I’m in the mountains, I’m home,” Shiffrin said. “They each play an important role in my career and hold a special place in my heart. I’ve spent more time training on snow at Ikon Pass destinations than anywhere else in the world, since first skiing the World Cup in 2010. It is a huge honor to be an owner in Alterra Mountain Company and to represent the Ikon Pass.”
Bode bonanza at Sunapee
Now is your opportunity to race against New Hampshire native Bode Miller, the most successful male American ski racer of all time with Olympic and World Championship gold medals, two World Cup championships and 33 World Cup victories. Miller will be making a special appearance at Mount Sunapee on Friday, March 23, to help raise awareness for adaptive ski programs: New England Healing Sports Association and Turtle Ridge Foundation.
Miller will set the dual NASTAR pacesetter time on Eggbeater beginning at 10 a.m. He will line up for the start alongside Sunapee’s own Jason Lalla, a Paralympics gold medalist athlete. All racers will then follow to see if they can beat Miller’s time. Proceeds from the event — all registration is $50 and open to anyone — will support both adaptive skiing programs.
At the end of the day, Miller will take the stage at Sunapee Lodge from 5-6:30 p.m. to talk about his life and how he got to where he is today. He will accept questions from the audience.
Based at Mount Sunapee, NEHSA is an alpine ski program for people with physical disabilities, serving those who want to enjoy active and independent lives through participation in sports. In the past 40 years it has grown to include a wide variety of physical, cognitive and developmental disabilities.
Established in 2005 by Miller and his family, Turtle Ridge Foundation seeks to a provide a philanthropic platform in the community, support youth and adaptive sports programs and offer the opportunity for the disabled community and young people to participate in a variety of sports and recreational activities that would not otherwise be available to them. The foundation offers grants, scholarships, general funding and periodically gifts its exclusive TRF MonoSki to the adaptive and youth sports world.
“The challenge in life for most people is making the conscious decision to do good for others or to do nothing. It’s that choice that defines the individual,” Miller said.
Wednesday Night train
Quickly becoming known as the most accessible ski area in New England given its cooperative partnerships with the MBTA Commuter Rail, ZipCar and Uber, Wachusett Mountain Ski Area has added a new public transportation feather in its ski hat.
The ski area has been offering weekend ski train service from Boston’s North Station for several years and has now added Wednesday night ski train service. The added convenience might be especially helpful to Boston area college students and others who want to take advantage of the resort’s night skiing and snowboarding during the week.
The new midweek night service, which began Jan. 17, leaves Boston’s North Station at 3:30 pm. A mountain shuttles meets passengers at the Wachusett Station with the arrival of the 5:08 p.m. train. The shuttle returns skiers and snowboarders to the Wachusett Station for the departure 10:35 p.m. train, scheduled to arrive back in Boston at North Station at 12:04 am.
“The ski train is a comfortable and convenient option for area residents seeking a day of winter recreation, saving them time and effort,” said David Scorey, general manager/CEO of Keolis Commuter Services, the MBTA’s operating partner for the commuter rail. “One of our goals is to grow off-peak ridership of the commuter rail. Wachusett Mountain is one of many great destinations across the network that passengers can enjoy without the hassle of traffic or finding parking. We hope more customers will see the train as a fun way to make the most out of winter.”
The Wednesday service supplements the Saturday and Sunday service, which departs North Station at 8:35 a.m., arriving at Wachusett Station at 10:11 a.m. The shuttle for returning trains departs for the Wachusett Station at 5:15 p.m. to catch the 6:10 p.m. train, arriving at North Station at 7:40 p.m.
“The ski train provides a great opportunity to provide Boston-area customers with an easy option for public transportation to the mountain,” said Wachusett Mountain Ski Area president Jeff Crowley. “Being so close to Boston, Wachusett is one of the most accessible ski areas in New England. And, with the opening last year of the Wachusett Station, now we’re easier to reach than ever before. Our partnership has been a wonderful way to increase use of the outbound commuter rail service. It’s a great service to the Boston residents who love to ski or snowboard but don’t have other transportation options.”
Vermont resorts promote safety
Vermont’s ski and snowboard resorts participated in the National Ski Areas Association initiative to keep guests safe on the slopes by creating a unique and informative video series hosted by “That Guy.” Throughout January’s National Safety Awareness Month, “That Guy” videos helped educate viewers on the seven points of NSAA’s Responsibility Code.
Individual Vermont resorts participated in Safety Awareness Month with the following events and activities:
▪ To raise awareness of helmet safety, Smugglers’ Notch Resort hosted for the fifth time its popular “Wear your helmet to work” day for employees. Other weekly activities during the month focused on chairlift safety (primarily for kids), terrain park safety with Park Smart, and the Skier and Riders’ Responsibility Code. Additionally, ski school and patrol staff have been through Fit for Snow training, which focuses on nutrition and personal fitness. Also, the resort awarded a season pass, Smugglers’ Gold and more to the winners of a poster contest for children in the local elementary school that illustrate the themes of “Your Responsibility Code” and “Park Smart.”
▪ Sugarbush Resort welcomed guests to participate in special safety events, including Meet the Ski Patrol and Toboggan Rides. Guests also learned about mountain wildlife and their habitats with Meet the Wildlife Experts.
▪ Killington and Pico Mountain hosted an après-ski giveaway, including helmets and Killington swag, presented a ski safety awareness video and offered a chat with a ski patroller over coffee and doughnuts in the K-1 Lodge. Killington also donated art supplies to Killington Elementary for a poster contest directed at skier safety and the interactive display hosted in the Ramshead Base Lodge Saturdays and Sundays through the month.
▪ Okemo Mountain Resort commemorated National Safety Awareness Month by promoting Vermont’s own PHAT team (Protect Your Head at All Times). The Vermont Snow Sports Research Team, a partnership of Vermont Children’s Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care and the University of Vermont College of Medicine, helps educate skiers and riders about helmet use.
▪ Stratton Mountain Resort’s events are part of its award-winning Play Safe, Play Smart, Enjoy the Mountain campaign. Each week the resort offered programming with a unique focus, including helmet safety, lift education, lifts and trails and the responsibility code with weekly raffle prizes from Smith helmets. Activities such as scavenger hunts with prizes, AED and CPR trainings, coloring contests, samples from related partners, and movie nights occurred throughout the month to reinforce key components of a safe ski and ride experience.
Kasper rules at Waterville
NOLAN KASPER of the U.S. Ski Team and 2018 U.S. Olympic Team overcame a tough day of qualifying and a loss in run one of the semifinals to win the White Mountain Dual Challenge at Waterville Valley in February over runner-up Morgan Megarry of the Canadian Ski Team.
Kasper (Warren, Vt.) qualified as the 15th seed, which gave him a difficult route to the finals. The most tense moment came in the first run of the semifinals when American slalom skier Robby Kelley (Starksboro, Vt.). defeated Kasper by .36 seconds. With a .62-second victory in run two, three-time Olympian Kasper was able to overcome the deficit and advance to take on Megarry in the final. “It was great to see such a big crowd of enthusiastic supporters today at Waterville Valley for this event. Like all the racers here today, I am thrilled to see that the World Pro Ski Tour has come back after being dormant for so long,” Kasper said.
The Rocky Mountain Pro Ski Classic at Snowmass will be March 8-10, and the Visit Maine Pro Ski Championships at Sunday River will conclude the World Pro Ski Tour schedule March 29-31.
Ariel Quiros, the one-time owner of Jay Peak and Burke Mountain resorts as well as a number of connected properties, has agreed to pay back more than $81 million, according to a settlement with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission.
Quiros had been accused of misusing investor funds intended for projects in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom to instead be used for personal expenses, including two luxury condominiums in New York City. Those funds, estimate at $50 million, were raised from foreign investors through the federal EB-5 “path to a green card” program. Quiros’ business partner, Bill Stenger, will pay $75,000 under the settlement.