Who had Greek Peak in his or her pool?
Binghamton, N.Y. recorded 40 inches (!) of snow, meaning that the Empire State ski area, only 35 miles to the north, may have won the East Coast jackpot.
But it’s not as if the likes of Blue Hills did so badly either. New England came up with its own gaudy totals from the latest storm that enveloped the Northeast too.
Okemo Mountain Resort reported 21 inches at its summit as of Thursday morning; Mount Snow 18 inches. Wachusett Mountain had a foot at 9 a.m., as snow was still falling in central Massachusetts. Magic Mountain, in southern Vermont, was showing 20 inches as of 7:30 a.m., in anticipation of two feet of snow.
A thump of dry, light powder on the deck and still coming down!
Green lift today and most likely Red lift tomorrow as we should end up with 2’ by end of day. Roads are a mess. Plenty of snow for tomorrow so be careful out there. pic.twitter.com/TluuwwHJKS
— Magic Mountain (@SkiMagicVT) December 17, 2020
— Gunstock Mountain Resort (@Gunstockmtn) December 17, 2020
Still snowing with 25” on the ground so far. Patrol is dropping ropes, including Lodge, Challenger, and Plummet, with more to come. pic.twitter.com/zDRWDF7Gsk
— Mount Snow (@mountsnow) December 17, 2020
The storm couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for the ski industry.
It’s not like the slopes have been empty during the early portion of the 2020-21 season, but with the combination of a lack of natural snow and COVID restrictions, it hasn’t exactly been the sort of banner start we’re used to either. There was no ski expo. There was no World Cup race at Killington. It almost seemed as if there was little buzz that the ski season had actually, indeed, even begun.
But for New England to get a storm that tracked to the south is a big deal.
There’s some animosity brewing amongst skiers and riders in terms of travel restrictions this winter. You can’t get into Vermont. If you’re from Massachusetts, you can get into Maine or New Hampshire, but can’t get out without a quarantine. And here comes one of the biggest money-makers on the industry’s calendar in holiday break.
It’s definitely going to be different this year. Let’s not be naive and think that there won’t be thousands of skiers and riders breaking the rules in order to satisfy their holiday plans. There will probably be another uptick in cases come January, and we’ll all be punished further with some extra restrictions that will further delay our ability of getting on with a normal ski season.
Then again, on the optimistic side, maybe this storm will keep people closer to home. Perhaps knowing the travel restrictions and seeing that Berkshire East received a couple feet of snow will keep some Massachusetts skiers in-state. That would not only, obviously, be good for the Bay State’s skiing economy, but also lend itself toward trying and limiting the spread northward, where “plate hate” (sneering at an out-of-state license plate) is already becoming a thing (or, at least, a lot more).
It’s really no secret that skiers from the 128 belt fuel the skiing industry in New England. So, for them to wake up and see this winter wonderland on their front porch, they’re probably going to ski where the snow is. That is, in their own backyard.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like this storm is going to save our season and get us back to normal as we know it.
But it won’t hurt.
Back in the Saddle
It was an event five years in the making, even if it seemed much longer than that to folks in Rangeley, Maine.
So, you can imagine the senses of relief, excitement, and anticipation that went with the official (re-)opening of Saddleback Mountain to the public on Tuesday.
It was a volatile half-decade in northern Maine, where Saddleback regulars would find their hopes raised, only to have them dashed multiple times when it came to new ownership taking over the mountain. Saddleback is a gem, featuring some of the most unique lift-serviced terrain in the East. But few ownership groups could truly make it work in rural Maine. Which made Arctaris Impact Fund, a Boston-based impact investment firm, not only a perfect fit, but the “only fit,” according to general manager Andy Shepard.
“When you think about the amount of money it was going to take to not only overcome five years of deferred maintenance, but also invest in those things that were needed to make the ski area work … there’s an enormous investment involved in that,” Shepard told New England Ski Journal. “But the risk associated with that was such that it really kept any of the traditional investors from having any interest from moving forward. An impact fund can invest in economically distressed communities and, in Arctaris’ case, primarily communities that have lost their key employer. Saddleback was a perfect storm for opportunity for Arctaris and the Rangeley community. My hope is that other impact funds will look at how this is working, will see the opportunity to invest in rural communities and those economic engines in those rural communities, which in a lot of cases in New England are ski areas. That could very well be the genesis for a new renaissance for ski areas.”
You can read that full interview here.
It will be interesting to see how Saddleback fares this winter (particularly with the pandemic, perhaps, limiting visitor numbers) and whether or not the Arctaris plan for Saddleback might work elsewhere as well. There are more than a few candidates.
Speaking of…the revival of the Balsams resort, in New Hampshire, doesn’t appear to be going as successfully.
Shiffrin back on top
Almost one year after her last victory on the World Cup circuit, Mikaela Shiffrin won Monday’s grand slalom event in Courchevel, France. It was her first victory since the death of her father earlier this year.
“After everything, it’s hard to believe that I could get back to this point,” Shiffrin told reporters. “I’m really excited, but it’s also pretty sad because … I guess that’s obvious. So I guess we say bittersweet. That’s a little bit the name of the day.”
It was Shiffrin’s 67th victory, tying her for third on the all-time list. She’s 25 years old.
After the victory, Shiffrin took to social media with some words for the doubters that, apparently, exist. “Cheers to the wonderful and kind people who said I lost my fire forever,” she wrote. “This one’s for you. Also, this one’s for every single person who is helping me get the fire back.”
Cheers to the wonderful and kind people who said I lost my fire forever. This one’s for you. Also this one’s for every single person who is helping me get the fire back. pic.twitter.com/PeJvNmiQli
— Mikaela Shiffrin (@MikaelaShiffrin) December 14, 2020
Was there really a doubt?
Wheel of confusion
This comes courtesy of a Ski the East Facebook group user. It either makes you think we’re in more of a niche sport than we think, or that we just know more than everybody else.
I’m going with the latter, obviously.