It’s probably no surprise, but some of our favorite rites of spring won’t be happening this year.
There will be no Reggaefest at Sugarloaf. Cannon Mountain’s BodeFest won’t be taking place. We will have to wait until 2022 for the next running of the Hannes Schneider Meister Cup race at Cranmore.
It’s the second year in a row that the pandemic has stripped away some of our springtime fun.
Compared to last year, we’ll take it.
We’re on the doorstep of the one-year anniversary (and oh, what fun that was) of when COVID-19 stepped into all of our lives. It was an occurrence that began a chain reaction of protocols, including the shuttering of all New England ski areas. That meant we lost, arguably, the most enjoyable stretch for skiing, a season filled with the scents of of sunscreen and charcoal. Heavy parkas are replaced by T-shirts. Afternoons end with drinks, snacks, and music on the sun-splashed deck.
In 2020, we had none of it.
It’s still going to be different this time around, but at least we will have the delight of making turns in corn snow while the sun shines above.
Sign me up.
COVID regulations and limitations don’t mean that spring parties, the norm at resorts across the region this time of year, are dead either. Sugarloaf is still planning on holding its annual East Coast pond-skimming championship on April 17. Sugarbush and Mad River Glen will be holding their own pond-skimmings on April 3. The Vertical Challenge will still be taking place at Berkshire East, Catamount, and Pats Peak this month, with the finals taking place at Jay Peak in early April.
It’s also probably going to be the biggest and best tailgating season we’ve ever seen in ski area parking lots. Never has the apres party been so successfully relocated.
While this has been the norm in places like Lot One at Smugglers’ Notch and the base of Superstar at Killington, the “car as your lodge” mentality this season has spread the scene to parking areas everywhere. Fire up the grill, share a cold one with the occupants of a neighboring vehicle, and let the bliss of the spring scene take over.
Still, there might be some question as to how long it lasts. With the pandemic limiting business this season, it’s hard to see many resorts fighting it out to last into May or June. Vail-owned resorts already have their one hard-stop closing dates listed, and while we might depend on Killington making a run at June, it would be understandable if the revenue in order to do so just wasn’t there this year.
It’s always a little melancholy to look at the snow-filled slopes in the springtime after the lifts have closed. This year, that might happen sooner than we hope at more locations than we’d like.
So, embrace it while we have it, the spring skiing we were denied a year ago is back within our reach.
Of course, another powder day or two wouldn’t hurt either.
Help out the Jimmy Fund this weekend at Nashoba Valley
The 26th annual Jimmy Fund Snow Challenge takes place this weekend at Nashoba Valley. The fundraiser will be a little different this time at the Westford, Mass. ski area. Five dollars from every lift ticket purchased for Saturday will be donated to the Jimmy Fund.
Tickets can be purchased online. If you can’t make the event, you can still donate here.
Red Bull takes over Vermont’s Route 100
The Red Bull Slide-In Tour is taking place today through March 12 at various locations throughout Vermont. The nine-day road trip will cover the entire vertical-length of the state, up historic Route 100, known as “The Skier’s Highway.”
Joining the Red Bull roster this year will be pro boarder Miles Fallon and Vermont native and snowboard phenom Maggie Leon, who joined the crew during the 2020 tour. The tour also includes X Games gold medalist, Zeb Powell and Dutch rail master and X Games bronze medalist, Jesse Augustinus both staples of the tour since its inception
“It was really sick to be able to join the tour for a couple of stops last year,” Leon said. “I’m stoked to officially be included on the roster and to ride some of my favorite local mountains, especially my home mountain, Killington.”
The tour begins at Stratton Mountain today and tomorrow, then moves on to Killington and Jay Peak, as well as some urban park riding in Burlington. The crew will also be veering off the beaten path, to explore some of Vermont’s hidden gems, and tapping into the roots of the Vermont snow scene. On March 7, the tour will link up with the Chill Foundation’s takeover at Bolton Valley, an event celebrating Chill’s 25th Anniversary that will bring riders from all over Vermont for a private mountain experience. Chill works with social service agencies, mental health agencies, foster care programs, juvenile justice programs, and schools in local communities.
The rest of the tour schedule is as follows:
— March 4-5: Stratton Mountain
— March 6: Farm Tow
— March 7: The Chill Foundation Bolton Takeover
— March 9: Burlington Park Ride
— March 10: Killington Mountain//Suicide Six
— March 11-12: Jay Peak Resort
For more information, visit www.redbull.com/us-en/events/red-bull-slide-in-tour
Catch the latest episode of New England Ski Journal TV
Check out the latest episode of New England Ski Journal TV, where host Meredith Gorman gets the latest from Sugarbush Resort, Bradford Ski Area, Gunstock Mountain Resort, and Loon Mountain Resort.
An all-new episode airs on NESN March 15 at 6:30 p.m. Be sure to tune in.