Monday, April 14, 2014

Ski season continues through easter & Patriots Day

If you were prepping your taxes or raking your yard last weekend, you missed some of the best skiing all year. Sunshine, soft snow, spring parties and pond skimming, and then it snowed on Sunday in the higher elevation mountains. So have no fear, there is still more New England skiing on tap. 14 ski resorts are still spinning in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Last year  on Tax Day there were only 9 ski resorts remaining in the game.

Easter Sunday will be the grand finale for most, although given the quaintly of snow, a few ski areas have pledged to keep going beyond Patriots Day Monday April 21.

In Maine, Sugarloaf, Sunday River and Saddleback are all open and planning fun events for Easter Sunday.  Sugarloaf has East Coast Pond Skimming next Saturday, and $59 lift ticket for the remainder of the season.  Sunday River will have free skiing Patriots Day Monday April 21 as their season finale.

For New Hampshire ski areas, Bretton Woods is closed midweek, but will reopen for April 19-21 with special Patriots Day ticket prices of $17.76 on Monday April 21 including a bonus voucher for early season next winter.  Cannon and Loon are both 61% open this week through Easter weekend. Wildcat vows to keep going, but will close Tuesday April 15 given the forecast, reopening Wednesday with $40 midweek tickets.

In Vermont ski country, Jay Peak, Mount Snow, Smugglers Notch, Sugarbush, Stowe and Stratton are still skiing on more than 50% of their terrain. Stowe will host its 60th Easter Sunrise Service, and lift tickets through April 20 are just $49 - a steal for Stowe. Killington  is on ski day 174, and plans to keep going as late as snow allows, with Nor'Beaster Pond Skimming this Saturday and Easter services Sunday.

Be sure you know before you go, as conditions and operating hours change unexpectedly in spring. These are the bonus days of winter, especially when the snow softens to creamy corn and you shed layers and feel the sun shine in. Watch the forecast, as the right temperatures and clear skies make or break a spring ski day. 

See you on the slopes. As published on www.Boston.com/ski 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Skiing the Ravine - Tuckerman's Spring Ski Ritual

Now's the time of year more and more skiers head into Tuckerman's Ravine on Mt Washington to enjoy true spring skiing, au natural, no lifts, no grooming, just the great White Mountains under a blanket of winter's snow. The sun comes out, the partyers do too. Trekking the 2 mile ascent up from Pinkham Notch into the bowl to be surrounded by snow, like minded skiers, and folks who are eager to celebrate the essence and the end of the sport of skiing for the winter.  Tuckerman's is an Eastern skiers rite of passage, certainly the passage from winter to spring.
Tuckerman's has been attracting skiers since the 1930s, the first Inferno race was held on these Mt Washington south slopes in 1933. Tony Matt made it famous tucking the headwall in 1939. Today you see other crazy stunts, costumes and hard core skiers attempt the snowfield, the headwall and Hillman's Highway.

Me, I prefer riding the high speed Wildcat Express across the valley, enjoying my cushy quad ride, resting my quads and doing 2,100' vertical laps on groomed snow that softens to perfect corn in the spring. Why hike when I can ride a 6 minute lift? I get the allure of Tucks, I did it as a teenager. Its a lot of ski gear to carry up the Fire Trail for those few runs. The party is fun, but its kind of a freak show on weekends these days. With as many as 4,000 people on a sunny spring Saturday, dare I say some don't know what they are doing up there, which scares me.

I urge folks to know before the go... check the avalanche danger, be prepared for the natural elements, changing weather, and don't put yourself or other skiers and riders at risk. PS: remember that you have to carry your empty beer cans and yourself out at the end of the party.

See more on Skiing Mt Washington's Tuckerman's' Ravine and skiing at Wildcat at Family Ski Trips!

Monday, March 31, 2014

What a ski winter! Ready for spring skiing?

What an amazing snowy winter for skiers. Like pennies from heaven, snow storms have been very kind to New England ski resorts, and much of the west. The big winner for snow out west is Big Sky Resort -planning to keep skiing through Easter April 20! Snow season started late for Lake Tahoe, Mammoth, Colorado and Utah, but now they are catching up and catching fresh tracks. with more frequent snow

In New England, cold temps and continuous snow fall has assured skiers of a great ski season. I am at day 44, counting well over a 1,200,000 vertical feet!  And I am not done skiing... could make 50 days! Ironically I have not enjoyed some of the best skiing in New England, travelling from The Alps to Oregon's snowy volcano. And still to come  is my favorite part of ski season - Spring!

How did I miss out on much of New England's snowy winter? Let's see, we skied Big Sky Montana in January- enjoying the new Big Sky Moonlight ownership for the biggest skiing in America.

Early February we hit Western Canada to discover new ski resorts Kicking Horse and Revelstoke - both steep scenic exciting mountains in British Columbia. We also had the adrenaline fix of heli skiing inthe Purcell Mountains with Purcell Heli Skiing and the legendary heli ski terrain of the Monashees with Eagle Pass Heli Skiing.

March we made the epic trip to the Swiss Alps, our second visit there in two years! Skiing the Jungfrau Region was amazing, we'll not soon forget the White Hare off piste run at Wengen, racing down the Lauberhorn or fresh snow of the SchilthornPiz Gloria - very James Bond 007! Gstaad was a surprise - the ski region is spread out over 14 villages, and seven ski sectors - here we stayed at the best Swiss ski hotels - 5 star and fabulous. Two unexpectedly great ski resorts we enjoyed were Engelberg Titlis and Haslital - both incredibly scenic and not yet on most skiers lists...but they should be.

Last but not least, we skied a volcano! Mt Bachelor Oregon delivered fantastic skiing - you can ski all 360-degrees of this conical dormant peak. We had sunshine and superb views two days then got dumped on with 8 inches of dense powder the last two. Staying in the cool town of Bend kept us amused apr├Ęs ski - this great town has the most breweries per capita of any! Cheers to beers after skiing Bachelor's volcano !

So I will see you on the slopes. Sunday River still has all their trails open, 800 acres of springs skiing. Sugarloaf is the King of Spring - Reggaefest and Easter skiing are the Loaf's most loved events of the entire season. Killington has brought the Beast of the East back to life, indicating they will keep lifts spinning as long as they can to reclaim their longest ski season title.

How many days of skiing have you had this winter? Can you calculate your vertical feet accumulation? Or are you just grateful for any and every day on the snowy ski slopes? 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sochi ski success for US Ski and Snowboard Teams

The most expensive Olympics ever is over. The Sochi experiment paid off with the motherload of medals for Mother Russia. Vladimir's Russian athletes won 33 medals -13 of them Golds. While the US was tied for a while, we ended up fourth behind Norway and Canada. Of the 28 US medals, 8 of the 9 Golds were earned in skiing and snowboarding. 

Sage Kotsenburg kicked it off for the US winning the first Gold of the Games, in the first Olympic Snowboard Slopestyle, going huge after Shaun White had second thoughts and withdrew.  Jamie Anderson won Sochi's Snowboard Slopestyle first for the females.

The highlight for me was Joss Christensen, Gus Kenworthy and Nick Goepper sweeping the Men's
Slopestyle Skiing for the US in the first ever Olympic ski venue. Devin Logan won Silver on the ladies side. David Wise and Maddie Bowman won Ski Halfpipe for the US, and  Kaitlyn Farrington grabbed Gold in Snowboard Halfpipe. Alex Deibold won Bronze in Snowboard Cross. Mogul Skier Hannah Kearney took Bronze. No US aerial or ski cross medals this time around.

Ted Ligety and Mikaela Shiffrin won Alpine skiing Golds in GS and Slalom. Mikaela filled Lindsey Vonn's fast and fabulous boots with beauty and poise. Andrew Weibrecht took Silver in Super G. Bode Miller got Bronze,gained the the title "oldest Olympic Alpine medalist" at 36, and became the most talked about for his about post race emotions as Christin Cooper probed about his passed brother Chilly. Julia Mancuso brought home Bronze in Combined Slalom.

In my opinion, Ralph Lauren redeemed the US athletes at the Closing Ceremony, the navy pea coat with red stripe was more patriotic and less ugly Christmas sweater party than the Opening outfits. NBC's coverage was trying at times, too many ads - we nicknamed the Games "The Adlympics, and too much talk of Bob Costa's pink eye. To top it off, last night's ludicrous 90-minute rehash of the Tonya Harding Nancy Kerrigan scandal should have been iced, and never aired on Primetime. Really?! to quote Seth Myers.

Russia's $50 billion venues host the Paralympics at Sochi this week. Then the thousands of expensive hotel rooms at Sochi, the ski slopes and gondola cars at Rosa Khutor Ski Resort are wide open. Can you say ski trip to Sochi? Not me... not just yet. More friendly Swiss Alps to ski  first...

See more reviews and news at Family Ski Trips and Luxury Ski Trips

Friday, February 21, 2014

US Ski and Snowboard events at Sochi win most medals

Freestyle skiing and snowboarding now account for 12 of the 26 Olympic medals at Sochi - putting Americans in the lead for now, with US alpine racing contributing five more to the medal count with Ted Ligety & Mikaela Shiffrin's Gold in GS and Slalom respectively, Andrew Weibrecht's Silver, Bode Miller and Julia Mancuso's Bronze.
David Wise and Maddie Bownman won the first ever Olympic Skiing Halfpipe Gold for the US. Joss Christensen, Gus Kenworthy and Nick Goepper swept the podium in Men's Ski Slopestyle, while Devin Logan won Silver - also the first ever Winters Game to allow Ski Slopestyle as an official medal sport. Sage Kotsenberg won Snowboard Slopestyle, while Kaitlyn Farrington won Snowboard Halfpipe, Kelly Clark grabbed Bronze.
The ski and snowboard events at Rosa Khutor have been a stage of sunshine an soft snow with 60 degree temps to start the games, then fog and freezing rain which delayed certain alpine and free skiing events. Some athletes criticized the Extreme Park halfpipe and skier cross courses as dangerous. But the overall medal haul has been worthy!
Go Team USA. See more on Family Ski Trips and Luxury Ski Trips

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Can snowboarders sue Alta Ski Area, seriously?

Three ski resorts remain in the US that ban boarding, Mad River Glen, Deer Valley and Alta. Taos New Mexico lifted their snowboard ban in 2009. Now Alta's boarding ban is up for litigation grabs.
Alta is being sued for unlawfully prohibiting snowboarders on US Forest Service land. The January 15 2014 lawsuit filed by Wasatch Equality, a non-profit group formed solely for this purpose, states Alta's snowboard prohibition violates the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.
Jonathan Schofield Wasatch Equity's Attorney, said “Alta is one of only three ski resorts in the US that does not allow snowboarding, and Alta is the only one that is operated on public land controlled by the Forest Service. Alta’s actions must comply with the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. Alta’s prohibition against snowboarders excludes a particular class of individuals from use and enjoyment of public land based on irrational discrimination against snowboarders, which denies them equal protection under the law as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.”
Alta Ski Area has guarded their  Ski Area moniker and snowboarding  ban since the 1980s. Alta is interconnected to Snowbird, which allows both skiers and snowboarders, but signs at the resorts' shared border turn away unwelcome boarders - back to The 'Bird. 
"Are people still snowboarding? I hear that sport is dying," said Mad River Glen marketing director Eric Friedman.  "I don't think they have a leg to stand on with this Alta lawsuit, but I am not a lawyer. What's awesome about our situation at Mad River Glen is we are on private land, and our snowboarding ban is up to the co-op (since 1995). If our owners, the shareholders, wanted to allow snowboarding, they could tomorrow. The attitude was waning at one point, but after Burton did their poach challenge in 2008, that turned everyone off." Vermont's  Mad River Glen first allowed snowboarders in 1986, then banned boards beginning in 1991.
There are 486 snow sports areas in the US that allow snowboarding, 197 are on US Forest Service land. Does the Alta snowboard lawsuit have merit or is it mere frivolity clogging the US court system?  Is it irrational discrimination to prevent them from riding on US Forest slopes? Can snowboarders argue that they are a "protected class" within the meaning of the Constitution? Besides, isn't there enough terrain in Utah for snowboarders that they don't need to sue this last skiers' vertical vestige - a ski area that expressly doesn't welcome or want their presence or their purses? I'm going skiing... maybe Mad River Glen - there slogan "ski it if you can" has a wonderful double entendre.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Aspen X Games are over, exit to Sochi!

The Winter XGames from Aspen are wrapped for another year. ESPN has continued the contract to the coveted Ski, Snowboard and Snowmobile Games til 2019! Sweet gig for Aspen's Buttermilk, the smallest of Aspen's four ski mountains including Ajax, Highlands and Snowmass. This season, skiing and snowboarding's best athletes brought big tricks to a boisterous Colorado crowd. For many athletes, this year's XGames were  stepping platform to the performance in the Sochi Olympics February 8 2014. The XGames are like the MTV Awards to winter sports, edgier than the Olympics or the Grammy's -which aired simultaneously with the XGames last night.  We you channel flipping from ESPN in Aspen to ABC's Grammy coverage from Hollywood?

Big winner at Winter X include Kelly Clark, the 30-year old snowboarder from Vermont won her fourth X Games Gold in Snowboard SuperPipe. Clark is going to Sochi to compete in Olympic Halfpipe with teammates Kaitlyn Farrington - who took XGames Silver at Aspen, and Vermont's Hannah Teter.

In Men's Snowboard SuperPipe, Danny Davis won Gold, with Louie Vito earning silver and Greg Bretz bronze. Gold medal winner 6x Shaun White did not ride in the XGames, saving his snowboard strength for Sochi. You will see White compete against his teammates Danny Davis and Greg Betz at Sochi's Rosa Khutor on Feb 11 in Olympic Superpipe. Shaun White will also perform in the first ever Olympic Snowboard Slopestyle on Feb 8.

In Men's Ski Slopestyle, Nick Goepper won his 2nd X Games Gold. He'll compete at Sochi  in the first ever Olympics ski slopestyle, along with teammates Gus Kenworthy, Joss Christensen and Bobby Brown. If you have been to the Dumont Cup at Sunday River, you have seen these guys compete alongside Simon Dumont. Unfortunately, Dumont injured his ACL, sidelining him from both the XGames and Olympics.

In Men's Ski Halfpipe, David Wise won his 3rd XGames Gold, he'll head to Olympic Ski Halfpipe's debut along with Torin Yater-Wallace - the 18 year old super skier from Aspen. In Women's Ski Halfpipe Maddie Bowman won Gold, she is competing in Sochi's first Women's Olympic Ski Halfpipe, along with Andover, Mass. teammate Annalisa Drew.

In Men's Snowboard Cross, Nate Holland won his 6th Gold, beating fellow Olympic bound SBX Alex Diebold and Trevor Jacob. In a surprising twist, Sugarloafer Seth Wescott was eliminated early at Aspen, and unfortunately did not secure a spot on the Olympic Snowboard Cross team to defend his two Gold medals. Nick Baumgartner will go to Sochi as the 4th man instead.

In Women's Snowboard Cross Lindsey Jacobellis won her 8th Winter X Games Gold. Jacobellis is going to Sochi, you may remember she hit a gate and was disqualified at Vancouver 2010 Olympics, and missed Gold at the 2006 Olympics when she led the pack but went for a victory grab on the final jump and fell, grabbing silver instead. Next up Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia...this should be very interesting! I think these USA athletes and the  US Alpine Ski Team should haul some serious medals at Rosa Khutor. Game on Team USA...