Thursday, May 22, 2014

Things are hot in Park City, The Canyons and Vail...

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The snow has melted, and things are heated in Utah's Park City. After months of deliberation, and years of an ongoing dispute between Talisker and Park City Mountain Resort, a Utah  judge ruled May 21, 2014 that Park City Mountain Resort missed its ski terrain lease renewal in 2011, and the three subsequent years.

The judge also ruled that Park City Mountain Resort ’s owner, Powdr Corp, was not denied the first right of refusal to operate Canyons Resort prior to Talisker reaching their deal with Vail Resorts. Talisker owns much of Park City Mountain Resort 's ski terrain,  and operates the abutting Canyons Resorts  which they recently leased to Vail Resorts.

According to Ski Area Management, CEO of Powdr John Cumming said in response to this court decision “Even if Vail ultimately prevails in this litigation, it cannot possibly operate a resort on the leased property. They do not own the adjacent lands and facilities that are essential for ski operations to take place. And they are not for sale.”

There is no dispute that Park City Mountain Resort does own the base facilities where Park City Mountain Resort 's ski lifts emanate from. But as a result of this ruling, it cannot operate on the majority of the ski terrain - for which a $150,000 a year lease was offered in 2011 but not renewed by Park City Mountain Resort. Therefore any rate, term or right of access has expired according to the judgment. In an open letter in March of 2014 by Robert Katz ,Vail Resort CEO, Vail Resorts had been "willing to purchase the base and parking facilities from Park City Mountain Resort " at fair market value. Powdr Corp continues to appear to have no interest in this. Re: Powdr, that's not a typo- that's how the corporation name is spelled - not Powder.

Powdr and Park City Mountain Resort have referenced Vail as a bully, saying Vail was looking for a "steal of a deal" and that Vail would monopolize this Utah ski region if they operated two of Park City’s three ski resorts.

Powdr and Park City Mountain Resort will appeal, and say they plan to operate this season as usual. Meanwhile Vail Resorts and Talisker are looking for a negotiated settlement and back rent for the unpaid lease of terrain dating back to 2011. While Vail owns and operates 10 ski resorts - Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado ski country, and Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in California, Powdr owns 9 from Mt Bachelor in Oregon to Pak City Mountain Resort, Ski Las Vegas, and Killington/Pico in Vermont. Ian Cumming, founder of Powdr, recently bought majority share of Snowbird Utah in May from Dick Bass... but that deal reportedly will not be part of Powdr's ski resort conglomerate...

As for future plans at Park City Mountain Resort, Vail Resorts expressed full support of One Wasatch, Ski Utah's proposal to interconnect  seven Utah ski resorts,  Snowbird, Alta, Solitude, Brighton, Deer Valley, Park City Mountain Resort, and Canyons using six lifts, all on private land and with private funding, on one ski pass. ONE Wasatch if approved by public and state permitting would be European like in its vast ski connection of unique resorts, to include 18,000 skiable acres, 700 trails, and 100 lifts connecting Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons and Park City.

Currently, Deer Valley and Alta, while willing participants in the Wasatch interconnect, do not allow snowboarders. But that's another pending lawsuit  in Utah - snowboarders claiming that Alta's snowboard ban is discrimination on US Forest Service land. Wow, can't everyone in Utah get along? Do we need a ski group hug?

For the latest ski news you can use, be sure to check our websites, Family Ski Trips and Luxury Ski Trips till snow flies again.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Longest ski season in the East and West!

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Bragging rights are earned in the ski biz by claiming the longest ski season. A serious commitment to snowmaking and man power are required to ski from Halloween to Memorial Day, Mother Nature's cold support helps too.

Killington has stepped up to the plate the past few seasons. This winter, Killington hosted the most skiing in New England, 199 days from October 24, 2013 to May 18, 2014. The Beast of the East had an even longer season the previous year, October 14, 2012- Memorial Day May 27, 2013.

For other late spring skiing resorts in the East, Jay Peak stayed open for Mother's Day skiing closing May 11, 2014. Sugarloaf closed May 4, Sunday River's last day of skiing was April 20 and Bretton Woods gave free skiing on Patriots day April 21. The good news for New England skiers and riders is that Killington, Sunday River, and now Jay Peak and Sugarloaf are all vying for longest ski season bragging rights. The winners - skiers!

2013-14 was a super cold and snowy winter for much of the North East. The Weather Channel exhausted its A-Z snowstorm names across the country starting with Atlas, to #26 Zephyr that dumped 43 inches of snow in Colorado May 10-13. That became rain that wiped out the East remaining skiing.

Still skiing out west is Arapahoe Basin in Colorado, Mt Hood Timberline and Mt Bachelor in Oregon, Mammoth in California, and Snowbird Utah. Aspen's Ajax will reopen for Memorial Day weekend skiing since they have so much snow.

After those last sweet spring corn snow turns, pack your snowboard and ski gear away properly, clean & dry, so you are ready to ski next October. Halloween skiing is just a few months away!

While you are waiting for next winter, check out our Family Ski Resort Vacation Guide and our latest Luxury Ski Vacation recommendations to plan your next ski vacation.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Storing your ski gear for summer

Mt Bachelor Oregon
Our Family Ski Vacation blog has moved, follow us at our Family Ski Vacations blog!

Ski season is over for most of us. We at Family Ski Trips ended with 50 ski days, 26 ski resorts in 3 countries. That made for well over 1.3 million vertical feet skied and some amazing adventures - no bad days as they say. We are grateful and we are packing it in... How about you?

Yes, there are a few ski resorts still spring skiing this May - Killington and Jay Peak in the East, and in The West - Mammoth California, Arapahoe Basin and Loveland Colorado, Snowbird in Utah and Mt Bachelor in Oregon will keep going into May at least. In Canada Whistler Blackcomb and Lake Louise are still skiing. In Europe you can keep skiing in Zermatt, Saas Fee, Adelboden, Davos, Ischgl, Gstaad Glacier 3000, and Solden, and Val D'Isere.

Only the most intrepid skier are still carving turns or hiking to ski Tuckerman Ravine - earning their ski turns. Most skiers and riders got their fill of snow and skiing during this epic snow witner and have turned the page to warm weather activities of golfing, biking, boating....

Switzerland's Jungfrau - Murren Schilthorn
But before you fast forward to summer sports, don't forget to store your ski gear properly. You don't want to toss everything in the basement in May only to find rust on your ski edges and mold on your ski clothing come fall. See our helpful ski storage tips and how to pack your ski gear away properly to prevent damage and protect your prized ski possessions.

See you on the high seas, until I see you on the slopes next winter! We have big plans for next year's Luxury Ski Vacations to ski Idaho's Schweitzer and Silver,  Whitewater and Red Mountain in BC next ski season, as well as exploring more of Europe skiing the Swiss Alps of St Moritz, Davos Klosters, Laax and Lenzerheide.  Cheers!

By Heather Burke Editor of www.familyskitrips.com  & www.luxuryskitrips.com

Monday, April 14, 2014

Ski season continues through Easter & Patriots Day

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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

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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?

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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?