Not that we really want to give Punxsutawney Phil any sort of credence with his prediction last weekend of an early spring, but our weather this winter isn’t exactly helping the cause.
Thanks to snowmaking capabilities, the skiing and riding season hasn’t been a bust though. Far from it. In fact, the further north you go, the more apt you are to find a surprising amount of snow.
But still, riding chairlifts over rocky expanses below, all while staring into glade trails that are roped off due to a lack of snow, well, it can be disheartening.
So, let’s start with the good news. The storm that most of New England is seeing at the end of this week promises to deliver a wealth of goods. The Single Chair Weather Blog’s Josh Fox predicts one-two feet for Vermont, while Maine meteorologist Keith Carson has up to a foot falling for spots like Sunday River and Sugarloaf.
However, this being a “warm storm,” icing may play a part in some of the more southern regions, including Massachusetts. In Vermont, Fox says that “the light wintry mix will become steady and at times heavy wind driven snow on Friday and bring us 8-16 mostly powdery inches.”
So, it’s going to be a good, but cold (the high in Burlington, Vt. on Saturday is predicted to be somewhere around 12 degrees) weekend for skiing and riding.
Now, the not so good.
In a post titled, “NOAA Outlook for End of February | Bad News for Snow Lovers Across the Country,” the website SnowBrains has the following: “Much to the chagrin of any snow lovers in the East, the continued NAO+ outlook and enhanced subtropical ridge over the Southeast favors a tilt toward above-normal temperatures, while the MJO re-emerging over the Maritime Continent would likely further lock-in east coast warmth.”
I’m not sure what all that translates to, except that it hints at a warming pattern in the Northeast, with the probability for precipitation being “below normal.”
Then again, both the NOAA and the groundhog have been wrong in the past.
Here’s hoping that’s the same pattern we see over the coming weeks.
Both Sunday River and Waterville Valley presented ambitious plans for expansion this week.
On Tuesday, Waterville Valley announced that the U.S. Forest Service has accepted its 2020-2030 Master Development Plan. The expansion includes the addition of 15 new downhill trails, the replacement of two lifts, and the construction of a gondola.
Sunday River announced its plan on Wednesday, a 10-year outline for growth and development focused on new infrastructure, enhanced experiences for year-round adventure, and reaching a net-zero carbon impact.
Improvements in the plan include RFID implementation, snowmaking, chairlift and facilities upgrades, real estate developments, and year-round experiences by the year 2030. Other projects included in the full 10-year plan include a significant number of upgraded chairlifts, extensive snowmaking upgrades, a hydro-therapy spa, a new SnowSports school building, and new summer activities such as a mountain coaster.
Freestyle legend at Waterville
Speaking of Waterville Valley, skiers can head there this weekend and ski with freestyle legend Wayne Wong. Limited to only 10 participants each day, the $547 program includes a lesson with Wong, meals, and beverages.
I’ve had the pleasure of skiing with Wong in the past, and this sounds like it would be a blast for anybody who wants to experience what it’s like to hit the slopes with an icon of the sport.
Heartache for Shiffrin
World Cup champ Mikaela Shiffrin shared news this week that her father, Jeff, passed away unexpectedly at the age of 65.
“Our mountains, our ocean, our sunrise, our heart, our soul, our everything. He taught us so many valuable lessons,” Shiffrin shared on social media. “But above everything else, he taught us the golden rule: be nice, think first. This is something I will carry with me forever. He was the firm foundation of our family and we miss him terribly.”
The New York Times’ Matthew Futterman penned a wonderful tribute to Jeff Shiffrin in the wake of the news, sharing how Mikaela’s parents brought balance into the raising of their child.
Futterman shared a talk he had with Jeff on the night Mikaela won gold at the Sochi Olympics:
“I mentioned that I was impressed with the gold medal but more taken with this thoughtful kid, self-conscious beyond her years, able to speak in long paragraphs rather than sound bites, unafraid to admit her fears and very aware of her good fortune.
“‘You have no idea how much that means,’ he said. ‘This stuff,’ he gestured to the seemingly glamorous event unfolding nearby and all the attention being heaped on his not-so-little superstar, ‘none of it matters.’”
Mikaela is, indeed, one of the most grounded professional athletes I’ve ever had the opportunity to deal with. She is a pleasure to speak with, and her forthcoming nature clearly came, in part, from her father. Condolences to the family.
Steals and deals
Love in in the air and on the trails on Valentine’s Day, when couples can secure some deals at a local ski area. That includes buy one lift ticket, get one free at both Smugglers’ Notch and King Pine. See www.smuggs.com and www.kingpine.com for complete information.
New England Ski Journal TV
Take a trip with New England Ski Journal TV to New Hampshire’s always-bustling Loon Mountain Resort in the town of Lincoln. Catch another episode on NESN Friday at 1:30 p.m. when we visit Waterville Valley. A new episode debuts Sunday night at 8 with visits to Ski Bradford and Wachusett Mountain. Catch it again Feb. 11 at 5:30 p.m. and Feb. 14 at 2 p.m. (Air dates on NESN Plus are Feb. 8 at 6 p.m., Feb. 12 at 5:30 p.m., and Feb. 14 at midnight.)