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10 things to do at the end of ski season.

BatAppreciationDayLet’s face it: it’s April 17. And we all know what that means: It’s the deadline for filing your 2017 income tax. It’s also Bat Appreciation Day, National Cheeseball Day, and Victoria Beckham’s birthday (she’s turning 44). But I’m not going to talk about any of those. Because the most important thing about April 17 is that for most of us, it’s the end — or nearly the end — of ski season.

Sure, some of us are still skiing. Maybe you’ll be making turns at one of those places in North America that’ll be open into May, or June, or even August. Maybe you’re lucky enough to be heading down to Chile this summer. Or maybe you’re in the Southern Hemisphere and your season is just getting underway.

The Remarkables Ski Area, New Zealand

The Remarkables Ski Area, New Zealand. Looks good to me!

But for now, let’s surmise that ski season is either ending or just about over. And for us, there are a few things we need to do to put the season to bed.

IMG_71351) Summerize your skis. Whether you do it yourself or have your ski shop handle it for you, there are things you need to take care of before you put your skis to bed. First, clean the tops and bases and apply a layer of soft, hydrocarbon wax to keep them protected and hydrated (be sure to coat the edges, too, so they don’t rust). Then, turn down the DIN on your bindings. Some people say this helps ease tension on the springs, others say it doesn’t matter. I’ve never turned mine down and haven’t had a problem, so it’s up to you. Finally, secure your skis with a strap base-to-base and store them in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight. Be sure to keep them off a concrete floor, which can hold moisture and cause the edges to rust.

 

 

IMG_71362) Prepare your boots: Clean the outsides, then remove the liners and make sure they’re completely dry. Once they are, you might want to sprinkle some powder inside to absorb moisture and odors. Then reinstall the liners and buckle your boots loosely so they retain their shape. Store them off the floor in a cool, dry place over the summer.

 

3) Clean your ski clothes: Ski jackets and pants are meant to play in, and they can get pretty grungy. Next week I’ll post about how to take care of them, so stay tuned.

4) Empty your boot bag: It’s amazing how much junk you can accumulate in just one ski season, so give your bag a thorough going over (you don’t want any old snacks moldering there over the summer!). While you’re at it, check the pockets of your ski jackets and pants. Last year I found over a hundred dollars spread out among four jackets. You might get lucky.

5) Buy your pass: Sure, it’s early. But the best season pass deals are always in the spring. Most mountains offer discounts if you buy your pass in advance, and the sooner, the better. The multi-resort passes are offering some great deals, too. For example, the Mountain Collective Pass is $409. for a limited time. The Epic Pass offered 6 buddy pass if you bought before April 15 (oops!), and the the costs of the IKON passes go up on May 1.

6) Shop the sales: The end of the season means great deals on ski gear and apparel. It’s not uncommon to find ski gear at 30-, 40-, even 60% off. So go forth and save!

7) Remember to remove your snow tires: Okay, so not exactly ski gear, but snow tires are definitely important for getting you to the mountain safely. That said, winter tires are notorious for lowering your gas mileage, since their tread often creates more resistance to the road than summer and all-season tires. So be sure to swap ’em out.

8) Plan next season’s adventure. Shut your eyes and dream. Where do you want to go next year? Start thinking about it now.  It’ll give you something to look forward to. And besides, some places offer great deals if you book early.

9) Make a list of fun things to do this summer. I don’t know about you, but I fall in to a serious funk when ski season is over (see last week’s post about reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder). Having fun things to do in the summer certainly helps.

10) Join TheSkiDiva.com: Just because the weather’s warm doesn’t mean you can’t keep the ski stoke going. So if you haven’t already, head over to TheSkiDiva.com and register to be part of the leading online community for women who love to ski. It’s a great way to talk about anything and everything ski related, even in the Dog Days of August. Remember, we’re there all year ’round!



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Sad about the end of winter? It could be Seasonal Affective Disorder.

How do you feel when ski season ends? Are you ready to move on to spring and summer? Or are you bummed out that it’s over?

Consider me the latter. The end of winter finds me in a bit of a funk. It’s not that I don’t like warm weather. I do. But I’m always sad to see ski season end, and yeah, I’m a bit depressed until I get used to the idea and find other things to do (believe me, I have a huge list of things I put off during ski season). Then I’m pretty much okay.

For some people, however, the change of season makes them more than just sad. You’ve probably heard about seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, which affects about 4- to 6-percent of the US population. SAD typically causes depression as the days get shorter and colder. But about 10% of people with SAD get it in reverse — the onset of summer triggers their depression symptoms. No, it’s not as common as winter SAD, but yes, it’s definitely something that happens.

According to an article in Psychology Today, while winter SAD is linked to a lack of sunlight, summer SAD may be due to the reverse — possibly too much sunlight, which also leads to modulations in melatonin production. Another theory is that people might stay up later in the summer, throwing their sensitive circadian rhythms for a loop. Or  it could be a reaction to higher heat and humidity, since traveling to a cooler locale sometimes brings relief. There’s even a theory that says summer SAD may involve sensitivity to pollen. One preliminary study in the Journal of Affective Disorders found summer SAD sufferers reported worse moods when the pollen count was high.

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Winter- and summer-related SAD have different symptoms. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of winter depression include loss of energy, oversleeping, and weight gain. Summer depression symptoms, however, can include anxiety, insomnia, irritability, restlessness, poor appetite, and weight loss. Summer SAD can also bring a feeling of isolation, too. Most everyone is having a good time; why aren’t you?

So what are you supposed to do?

• Seek medical attention: If it’s getting in the way of your normal life, this is your best course of action. Because who knows: if it’s not SAD, it could be something else. So talk to your doctor. Once you figure out exactly what’s going on, you can explore treatment options.

• Exercise. I can’t think of a single thing that exercise isn’t good for, and this is another case where getting yourself moving can help. Regular exercise can boost serotonin and endorphins, which make our brain feel good.

• Do something you enjoy every day.  Find something each day that will make you happy, even if it involves staying indoors.

Relax. Studies show that relaxation techniques can have a profound affect on your ability to overcome depression and anxiety. Try to incorporate meditation, deep breathing, muscle relaxation, or yoga into your daily routine.

• Plan for it. If you know you’re going to experience summer SAD, be ready in advance. Organize your summer ahead of time so you can feel more in control. It’ll make it much less stressful when your symptoms kick in.

And on that note, I leave you with this rock n’ roll classic:



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How to survive spring skiing.

You can’t tell from the snow on my deck, but according to the calendar, it’s April 3.

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Yes, it’s been an awesome winter here in Vermont. But as Tom Waits says, you can never hold back spring.

 

And it’s true. For me, it means ski season is drawing to a close. No, I’m not going to South America or Mount Hood or someplace else to ski into the summer months. I just don’t have the $$ for that, though a big thumbs up to those of you who do. For most of us, however, spring brings — surprise, surprise — spring skiing. And here in the northeast, that can mean rock hard, frozen snow in the morning, and snow that’s either soft, slushy, or sticky as the day warms up.

So what advice do I have? I’m not an expert, but there are a few things I’ve learned over time about spring skiing:

1) Wear sunscreen: The sun is higher in the sky than it’s been all winter. So even if you haven’t dipped into the tube of SPF 30 yet, now’s a good time. After all, researchers have discovered that even a little tan isn’t healthy. More than 2.5 million cancers in 3 million people are diagnosed  annually. If you want the look of a goggle tan, try some make-up, instead.

2) Wax your skis: You know that grabby snow that can bring your skis to a stop, while your body continues to travel? Not good. A coat of warm weather wax will fix that right up. Carry some rub-on in your pocket, too, for touch-ups on the mountain.

3) Dress accordingly: Layers are a good idea. It may start out pretty cold and warm up quite a bit, so you may want to peel as the day goes on. Also, no matter how warm it gets, do not wear short sleeves or shorts. Why? If you fall, you’re gonna pay big time. Falling on snow is like falling on sand. The ice crystals will scrape your skin raw, plus you’ll get very, very wet. So protect your skin, stay dry, and wear a shell.

4) Timing is everything: You might want to start your ski day a little bit later than usual. This is practically sacrilege coming from me; I’m always out when the lifts start running. But if you want to avoid rock hard ice, stay in and have another cup of coffee. Then follow the sun around the mountain. Ski the south and east-facing slopes in the morning and the north and west-facing slopes in the afternoon, so you can catch the snow as it softens up.

5) Softer and wider is better: Set aside your narrow waisted carving skis and go for something wider. Powder skis have a bigger surface area that lets them to surf over the heavy stuff  without getting bogged down.  They also have a softer flex, which allows them to bend more, so you don’t have to steer as much.

6) Ski it like you mean it: Keep a balanced, even weight on each foot. Also, steer lightly by tipping the skis on edge ever so slightly to turn. To put it simply, slow moves, long turns. Let the tails follow the tips, and don’t twist your feet too much. Commit to the fall line and don’t spend too much time shopping for good stuff.

7) Be aware of hazards: Rocks and bare spots have a habit of blossoming this time of year. And what a difference a day can make! A perfectly covered slope may not be so perfect only hours later. Be especially careful when you approach a rise and can’t tell immediately what’s on the other side. It could be an ugly surprise.

8) Enjoy! A lot of people end their ski season when they no longer see snow in their own backyard. This is good for those of us who stick it out.  The mountain is a lot less crowded. Quieter. Just the way I like it.

So what’s your spring skiing tip?

 



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Want some old school, off the radar fun? Try June Mountain.

I’m sitting here with a huge smile on my face. We just wrapped up this year’s annual gathering for members of TheSkiDiva.com, and as usual, it was an amazing experience. This year we met at Mammoth Mountain, and a week of good fellowship, great skiing, and 70 inches of fresh powder made it a trip I’ll never forget.

But for me, the icing on the cake was a day spent post-gathering at June Mountain, half an hour up the road. And though it’s owned by Mammoth, it couldn’t be more different. For one thing, it’s a lot smaller: 1,500 skiable acres vs Mammoth’s 3,500. And it’s at a lower elevation, so it gets less natural snow: June averages 250 inches per year, as compared to Mammoth’s 400. But the biggest difference is the ski experience, itself. On a Saturday a few days after a big dump, when weekend crowds were converging on Mammoth like ants on a picnic lunch, June was uncrowded, unhurried, and perfectly divine.

To put it simply, I loved it. How much? If I could, I’d wrap it up and take it home with me. Why? Two main reasons. For one, the aforementioned vibe. June is a chill place. Even though it’s owned by Mammoth, it has less of a corporate feel than its parent resort. It’s more welcoming. More laid back. Less crowded. And it’s incredibly family friendly (kids under 12 ski free!). Sure, some of the lifts are slow. But you’re not there to book run after run after run. You’re there because of its character. June is closer to the soul of skiing than a large corporate ski resort. It speaks to me. I don’t care if it’s not the gnarliest place around. It’s just plain charming.

The other thing I love? The scenery. It’s gorgeous. No matter where you look, there’s one spectacular view after another. My pictures don’t do it justice, but I’ll post a few, anyway.

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June Mountain base lodge

We at lunch outdoors mid-mountain at Stew Pot Slim's

We at lunch outdoors mid-mountain at Stew Pot Slim’s

A rocky history

Things haven’t always gone smoothly for June. Opened in 1962, June was purchased by Mammoth in 1986. But poor profits led Mammoth to close the resort for the ’12-’13 season, potentially for good. Community action turned things around, and June re-opened the next year. It began to position itself as a more family-friendly destination with lower lift prices and a greater emphasis on beginner and intermediate skiers. I, for one, am glad it’s there.

Other stuff about June

• June consists of two peaks: Rainbow Mountain, with an elevation of 10,040 feet, and June Mountain, with a peak of 10,090 feet.

• There are 41 named trails and 2 terrain parks.

• The trails are 16% beginner, 40% intermediate, 26% advanced, and 18% expert.

• June is on the IKON pass for ’18-’19.

• Average sunny days: 70%

• Number of lifts: 7. Two quads, 4 doubles, and 1 carpet.

• Vertical drop: 2,590 feet

• June has an open-boundary policy so you can duck the rope and ski wherever you want.

So what’d you think, Ski Diva?

Most definitely, two ski poles up. Sure, ski Mammoth. It’s a great mountain. But for a different sort of experience, don’t miss June.

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Click on the map for a larger version.



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Dear Ski Diva: Which pass is best for me?

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I’m sure all of you have heard about the multi-resort passes that have come on the market for next year. There’s the IKON pass, the Epic Pass, the Mountain Collective Pass, the Peak Pass, and so forth and so on. It’s enough to make your head spin. Well, don’t despair; you’re not alone. Skiers far and wide are tying themselves in knots trying to determine which pass is best for them. Simply put, you need the foresight of Nostradamus and the wisdom of Solomon to sort it all out. Or, you could send a letter to The Ski Diva, because natch, I have all the answers. Here are a few of the many I’ve received:

 

Dear Ski Diva —
I’ve been dating a terrific guy (I’ll call him Chad), and until recently, things have been going great. Chad and I share a lot of the same interests. We both love to eat oatmeal, walk barefoot on gravel roads, and collect vintage Tupperware containers. Even better, we both share a passion for skiing! The problem is that Chad has always been a MAX pass sort of guy and is set on buying the IKON pass. I, on the other hand, love the Mountain Collective resorts and think that’s the way to go. Our discussions are escalating into arguments. Last night, after an especially heated exchange, Chad had his evening bowl of oatmeal without me. I was devastated! What should I do?
Sincerely,
Heartsick in Denver

Dear Heartsick in Denver —
Don’t despair. Mixed relationships can work if you’ll only compromise. Fortunately, both of those passes share a few resorts. For example, both cover Big Sky, Aspen Snowmass, and Jackson Hole, to name a few. If that doesn’t work, you can always take separate ski trips. As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder!
All the Best,
Ski Diva

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Dear Ski Diva —
I live in New England, and I’m really confused about which multi-resort pass makes the most sense. My best ski friend, Stephanie, says she’ll only ski with me if my pass covers Killington during  Christmas Week. But my oldest friend, Deb, wants us to take a ski trip to Stowe. And my next door neighbor, Jill, says we simply have to ski Mount Snow. Then there’s my annual trip out west. Jennifer, my ex-college roommate, is really pushing for us to go to Vail. But my other friends — Sally, Lauren, and Emily — want us to go to Squaw Alpine Meadows. I feel like I’m being pulled in half a dozen directions! I really don’t enjoy skiing alone and I don’t want to disappoint my friends, so which should it be: IKON, Epic, Mountain Collective, or something else?
Yours in confusion,
Baffled in Boston

Dear Baffled in Boston —
The choice is clear: you need new friends. Ditch ’em all and only ski with those who have the same pass as you. Sure,  it may not be easy at first. And you may have to pay an emotional toll. But it’ll be a heck of a lot easier than to accommodate all those losers who are hinging your relationship on your ski pass.
Happy Trails,
Ski Diva

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Dear Ski Diva —
I’m seriously worried about the future of skiing. All the multi-resort passes are great for skiers’  bank accounts, but what does this mean for the smaller ski areas? What’s the incentive for a skier to go to a smaller, independent resort, if they can purchase an Epic pass and ski multiple resorts for the same amount they’d spend for one? And with Vail and Aspen-KSL having such deep pockets for investment, how can a smaller area survive?
Signed,
Seriously Concerned about Skiing

Dear Seriously Concerned —
I’m worried, too. Since the 1980’s, roughly 33% of US ski areas have gone out of business and up to 150 more are considered threatened by industry experts. Sure, there are a lot of factors that have caused this to happen. Many of these places were smaller Mom and Pop hills that didn’t have the resources to survive a bad winter or invest in things like snowmaking or lifts. But that doesn’t mean they should just go away. Smaller areas are great places for beginner skiers and families, and serve as feeder hills for larger resorts like Vail. What’s more, they offer something larger resorts generally lack: a measure of character and community involvement that goes to the heart of what skiing is all about. What’s the answer? Damned if I know. But some of the smaller resorts are banding together to offer their own multi-resort passes of their own. The Denver Post covers some of them here. What can you do? Support your small local area before it’s too late. Because there’s more to a ski area than just dollars and cents.

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Flying in winter? What you need to know.

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Let me get this out of the way first: Mother Nature rules. She always gets her way. You just have to sit back, relax, and give her space to do her thing.

As skiers, we know this. As citizens of the 21st century who work pretty hard to bend Mother Nature to our collective will, it’s sometimes easy to forget.

Right now I’m holed up in a hotel room waiting for the the third Nor’easter in two weeks to haul out of New England so I can get on a plane for a Ski Diva gathering out west. I live three hours from Logan International, so we figured it’d be wiser to drive down last night and stay near the airport, rather than drive in today during the storm. The forecast is for 18″ of snow  (I’m almost sorry I’m not home in Vermont to enjoy the fresh pow), and our flight is scheduled for tomorrow. Mother Nature willing.

The chance of that happening? I’ll give it a strong……maybe. The storm is supposed to end tonight, so yes, there is a chance. It just depends on if the storm moves out to sea. And if they can clear the runways. And if our plane can get in. And if the flight crew can arrive. And a million other things that I can’t even name. But it’s still a possibility, so I’ll hang on to that.

So what do you do if you’re flying in winter?

Here are some things to do before you go:

Pre-pack. Make sure you have a carryon with  some essentials: toothpaste, clean underwear, medication, a phone charger, etc. That way, if some leg of your journey is cancelled, you’ll have a few important items with you.

And this may seem evident, but check your flight before you leave to make sure it’s still scheduled. This could save you a trip to the airport. Your best bet is your airline’s website. Or you might want to try Fightaware.com. This website bills itself as the world’s leading flight tracking data website and provides real time tracking maps for every single flight. Another option is Fly.faa.gov. The Federal Aviation Administration hosts a map that pinpoints which cities’ airports are generally showing significant delays or if an airport has closed.

But what if you get to the airport and your flight’s canceled?

If the customer service desk is crowded, call the airline on your cell. You might get through faster.

Know your rights. For domestic flights, US airlines are not obligated to compensate you for cancellations. If weather’s the problem, they must get on on the next available flight, but they’re not obligated to put you on another airline. If it’s non-weather related, they must put you on the next available flight.

Go online. If you used an online travel agency to book your reservation, try to reach them. And don’t forget about your  hotel or car reservations, either. Cancelled flights have a ripple effect, and your other travel providers may need to be notified, too. You can rebook, or they may give you a partial refund.

Find out if there’s a compensation package. You may be entitled to something: a hotel room, a refund. If you have a smart phone, an app called Hotel Tonight is a great way to find last minute hotel room.

More importantly, stay calm. You’ll think more clearly, and it’s a lot better for your general well being. Remember, there are things a lot worse that could happen. I know it’s hard to keep this in mind, but try.

Keep your fingers crossed for me. I’ll get there, eventually. The Ski Divas are calling, and I must go.

 



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Have you ever ski biked? I have — and it’s a blast!

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I’m willing to bet that most of you haven’t heard of ski biking. Well, until recently, neither had I. But if you’re looking for some laugh-out-loud, just plain silly fun, this is the thing for you. I know, because I tried it last week at Killington Mountain Resort. And I laughed, whooped, hollered, and giggled all the way down the hill.

You clip into short little skis.

You clip into short little skis.

What’s a ski bike? As you can see in the photo above, it’s essentially a bike frame with a long, low seat and two skis: one in the front, and one in the back. There are no brakes, chains, or gears, either. You clip your feet into two short skis, straddle the seat, and you’re good to go.

Although ski biking is pretty new in the East, it’s been around for decades, primarily in Europe and more recently out West. The bikes used at Killington are made by Brenter, a family business in Austria that’s been making them since 1949.

Killington is the only resort in Vermont with ski biking, which it offers in partnership with Alpine Bike Works. The mountain has 12 available in three different sizes — kids, medium, and large — and it can adjust them to your physique.

Once you’re fitted, you’re given some instruction on how to stop, start, turn, and get on and off the lift. To be honest, getting on the lift was my biggest challenge. The bikes really aren’t heavy — they weigh less than 20 pounds — but they are a bit cumbersome. You hold them in front and keep them in place using your foot, knee, and the lift’s safety bar. And while I managed to get the hang of it after a couple times, I’ll admit that it made me a bit nervous at first.

Ski biking, on the whole, is a low impact, easy way to have fun. The learning curve is pretty fast, which probably makes it great for people who want to get out on the snow but don’t want to spend a lot of time taking lessons, or for people who have physical challenges, or for those of us just looking for something fun and different to do. Turning involves simply shifting your weight. To stop, you turn into the hill. And to have fun, you just point yourself down the hill and GO.

Here I am coming down the learning hill. As I’m sure you’ll note, conditions were sort of challenging. We’d been through a spring-like warm-up, and the snow was a mushy-gushy, piled up mess. But that didn’t stop me from having fun!

Right now Killington limits ski biking to two areas on the mountain: the Snowshed learning area and Ram’s Head, though this could change in the years ahead. My instructor said it’s great in all sorts of conditions, too, so I think I’ll have to come back and find out for myself.

So what’d you think, Ski Diva?

Two ski poles up! I can’t recommend this highly enough. Definitely give it a try.

And now, for Killington’s ’18-’19 season…..

After an afternoon of ski biking, I attended Killington’s annual Resort Update meeting. Everyone in the community is invited, and it’s a great way to learn about what the mountain is planning for the summer and next ski season. Killington deserves a lot of credit for being so forthright and transparent about what’s going on. The mountain’s General Manager, Mike Solimano, had a lot of great things to announce. Most noteworthy: $16 million of improvements, which include the following:

• RFID technology at lift access points for both Killington and Pico;
• Upgrades on the K-1 Gondola, including new gondola cabins;
• A 6-person bubble chairlift to replace the current Snowden lift;
• Installation of a quad chairlift on the mountain’s underserved South Ridge area;
• Trail intersection improvements;
• Creation of a dedicated race training venue.

For more details, go here.

 

 



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Mount Snow: Still going strong at 64.

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When you look into Mount Snow’s history, one of the most interesting things you learn is that its founder, Walter Schoenknecht, petitioned the Atomic Regulatory Commission to detonate an A-bomb on the mountain’s backside to increase its vertical.

This was back during the Cold War, and fortunately for all of us, his request was denied. But that doesn’t minimize the role that Schoenknecht played in creating a lasting legacy in eastern skiing. This year, the mountain celebrates its 64th anniversary. And although it’s been through several owners — Schoenknecht sold it in the early 70’s — Mount Snow been part of the Peak Resorts family since 2007.

Mount Snow is the first major ski resort you hit when you enter Vermont from the south, so its easily accessible from major population centers in the Northeast. But the mountain has more going for it than just proximity. Peak has made significant investments designed to keep people coming back, year after year. Here are a few I learned about during a recent visit:

 

Snowmaking Photo courtesy of Mount Snow

Snowmaking
Photo courtesy of Mount Snow

A new $30 million snowmaking system
Resorts in the east live and die because of snowmaking, and Mount Snow just gave itself an enormous boost with a $30 million upgrade that doubles its previous capacity. This has been years in the making. The mountain constructed an entirely new reservoir, installed a new pumping system complete with 3 pump houses and 18 miles of pipe, and added 220 new higher-efficiency snow guns. The result: a lot more snow, faster and more efficiently. Which means more snow on more trails earlier in the season, and faster recoveries from wild weather swings.

 

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The Blue Bubble
I’m no wuss (well, maybe I am), but riding a lift while being hammered by the wind is not my idea of a good time. The Blue Bubble, otherwise known as the Bluebird Express, has a shield you can pull down for protection from the elements. And yeah, it makes a huge difference. Mount Snow installed its six-pack bubble chair in 2011, and it’s the go-to lift on a blustery day.

 

Carinthia Terrain Park, courtesy of Mount Snow

Carinthia Terrain Park, courtesy of Mount Snow

The best terrain park in the east.
I don’t play in the park, but if I did, this is where I’d come. Newschoolers.com named Mount Snow’s Carinthia Park #1 in the East in 2018, and it’s made top ten lists all over the place ever since it opened in the ’08-’09 season.  The park encompasses 100 total acres of terrain with nine different terrain parks ranging in size from small features to extra-large features, plus a 400+ foot superpipe with 18-foot walls. Mount Snow was cohost of the first Extreme Games in 1995 and host of the Winter X-Games in 2000 and 2001.

 

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New Carinthia Lodge under construction Photo courtesy of Mount Snow

And coming soon, a huge new lodge
If there’s been a shortfall at Mount Snow, it’s in the base lodge department. The main lodge has been around for a long, long time, and truly, it wasn’t built to handle the amount of traffic it gets, particularly during weekends and holidays. Mount Snow is working big time to change this by building a $22 million dollar 42,000 square-foot lodge. Slated to open for the ’18-’19 season, the lodge will have seating for 500 people and house a full-service restaurant, a cafeteria, two bars(!)  and a coffee counter. It’ll also have a rental shop, a tune shop, lift ticket and ski school sales, a retail and convenience store, and bag storage. The area will also feature a new parking garage as well as 102  2-3 bedroom rental units measuring from 1,600 to 2,800 square feet.

Haven’t been to Mount Snow? Here are some stats:

Total acreage: 600
Base elevation: 1,900′
Summit elevation: 3,600′
Vertical drop: 1,700′
Ability level: 16% green, 66% blue, 18% black
Average annual snowfall: 156″
Trails: 86
Lifts: 20
Longest run: 3 miles

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I had a great day skiing Mount Snow. The terrain is lots of fun, the mountain easy to navigate — the blues are in one section of the mountain, the blacks in another, and the terrain park entirely separate —  and the people who work there are friendly and engaged. If you’re looking for a place to ski in southern Vermont, this is it. Give it a try.



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Yes, I love skiing. But here are some things I’d change.

SkiLove

Let me start by wishing skiing a very Happy Valentine’s Day. Yes, skiing, I love just about everything about you: the activity, the culture, the weather, the scenery. To me, skiing has been a gift that has enriched my life in oh so many ways. Yet true love doesn’t mean unconditional acceptance. You can love something and still recognize its flaws. In fact, the more you love something, the more you want to make it better.

So this week, I thought maybe it was time I took off the rose-colored glasses and addressed some of the issues the ski industry needs to work on. No, I don’t have the answers. These are complicated problems that many people have been puzzling over for years. But as a (very) interested observer, here are some of the things I would change, if only I could:

• Greater affordability, particularly for families: There’s no denying that skiing is expensive. Sure, there are ways to cut costs: ski clubs, buying tickets in advance, ski swaps — all of these can do a lot to make it more affordable.That said, it’s a wonder that anyone can afford to be out on the slopes. At $189, Vail’s walk-up rate is firmly in nose-bleed territory. And while that may be an extreme example, it still demonstrates that the industry is pricing a lot of people out of the sport. When I see a family on the slopes and I think about what they’re paying for lodging, food, gear, lessons, and lift passes, I’m frankly at a loss to know how they do it.

• Better pay and benefits for instructors.* Anyone who takes a lesson knows you pay a pretty hefty price. But what most people don’t realize is that instructors only receive a very small portion of that amount. Typically, instructors are only paid about 10 to 20% of the revenue they generate for major US resorts. Sure, they get perks: the free pass is nice, and they may get discounts for food or gear. But the amount they receive is way out of whack when you look at what’s being charged. *Oh, and while we’re at it, let’s up the pay and benefits for patrollers, too.

• More affordable housing for ski resort employees. The problem with working in a ski town is living in a ski town. The market for high-end vacation homes has made affordable housing nearly impossible to find. So what’s the average liftie/instructor/food service worker to do? Typically, commute in from farther and farther away. You can read a good article about the problem here, but it’s a crisis situation that needs to be addressed.

• More diversity on the slopes:  From 1974 to 2016, the percentage of Americans skiing fell from 25 percent to 17 percent. And while the number of minorities in the country is continuing to rise — by 2060, the US will be a ‘minority majority’ nation — 73% of skiers are white.  What’s more, a key demographic — the Baby Boomers — are aging out. If skiing is going to survive, we need to bring younger, more diverse people into the sport.

• A viable model for smaller, family-friendly resorts. Since the 1980’s, roughly 33% of US ski areas have gone out of business, and up to 150 more are considered threatened by industry experts. It breaks my heart to see these places close. Small hills play an important part in skiing. These are where many of us get into the sport, and are an important, affordable place for families to play. Keeping these areas going is essential for the life blood of the sport. I’ve written about one solution, Mountain Rider’s Alliance, here. But there need to be others, too.

• And while we’re at it, a little less sexism. This covers a whole lot of ground: everything from relegating women to soft goods sales in ski shops, to only paying attention to women racers who look a certain way, to producing skis in girly colors with flowers and butterflies (thankfully, this is a trend that’s disappearing). It’s simple: Women want to be appreciated as the athletes we are. We don’t want to be talked down to like children or treated as sex objects. The industry has made a fair amount of progress in this, but it still has a long way to go.

 

 

 

 



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On sexist ads and skiing.

I’m writing this during the Super Bowl. No, I’m not watching. I never do, no matter who’s playing. Football just isn’t my thing. But I may have to break that rule if they continue to run commercials like the ones I’m going to mention below. Chalk it up to the Winter Games, chalk it up to the #metoo movement, but there are a number of ads that show women skiers as the powerful, exceptional athletes they are instead of just scantily clad sex objects with minimal athletic chops.

This is an outstanding development. For far too long, women have been depicted in ads like this:

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Or this:

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Unfortunately, Lange Boots has a long history of running these ads, and in all fairness, I think they’ve stopped. But it drove me nuts back in the day. I mean, I get it. People like to look at women’s bodies. They’re beautiful. But this isn’t about beauty. It’s about depicting women simply as sexual toys. And yes, I find that demeaning.

Sexist ads aren’t just from the dark ages. It wasn’t that long ago that Toyota ran this gem, implying that men are experts and women, well, they’re pretty much relegated to intermediate terrain:

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And recently Unofficial Networks, a popular ski website, posted this on Facebook with the caption ‘Best Ad Campaign Ever?’ The backlash was intense, and they ended up removing it pretty quickly. But it’s a sore reminder that this sort of attitude is still very much part of our culture:

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And if these ads weren’t bad enough, it’s even worse when they feature world class female athletes. Sorry, Julia Mancuso, I love you, but is this really necessary?

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Some people argue that this is an athlete’s prerogative; that they’ve worked hard to develop fantastic bodies, and it’s their right to profit from their efforts. After all, their time in the spotlight is so brief  that they might as well make money any way they can. And if they find it acceptable to pose in skimpy outfits, well, it’s legal and they’re adults and free to make their own choices.

All this is true. Nonetheless, I find if profoundly sad that they even find it necessary to do this at all. It’s demoralizing when a woman who’s an Olympic-level skier poses suggestively in an ad for ski gear. These are world class athletes who should be celebrated simply for their abilities — not because they’re posing with their butt hanging out of a thong and a suggestive look in their eyes. I think it objectifies them and diminishes their accomplishments. What’s more, I don’t think it does anything to sell to the women’s market — if that’s the intent — and only sexualizes them to men. I mean, I’d buy ski boots a lot quicker if I saw a woman using them to rip down the mountain, instead of posing half undressed.

All this brings me back to the Super Bowl, because there were some really great, inspiring ads that highlighted the strength, perseverance, and excellence of women skiers instead of how they look in a provocative pose.

So it’s with great pleasure that I present these commercials below. Let’s hope there are a lot more to come.



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