Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Learn to ski & snowboard - January 2014

Friends shouldn't teach friends to ski! It's a recipe for trouble... teaching your friend to ski or snowboard can send your relationship downhill, fast! Haven't you seen the boyfriend teaching his gal to ski and she's crying? How about the snowboarder dude watching his buddy flounder and fall on the bunny slopes without a clue about what to do?

The best-friend thing to do is to get your friend into a proper lesson, therefore reducing the risk of injury, shortening their learning curve, and improving their enjoyment of the snow sport. Side benefit for friends -  keeping your friendship intact. January  2014 is "Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month", now in year 6 thanks to the National Ski Areas Association, the Professional Ski Instructors of America and the National Ski Patrol. Ski resorts across the country are offering great incentives for discounted first time ski and snowboard packages, plus lift ticket deals and rewards for sharing skiing and snowboarding with friends.
Throughout New England ski resorts and the Western Rocky mountains are many Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month ski and snowboard lesson specials. If you introduce a friend to snowsports - or two or three, you can enter to win prizes as the ambassador at Bring a Friend that brings new friends to the sport.

So don't break your friendship with a bad intro to the sport you love, bring a friend to a ski or snowboard lesson in January and you will both win. Meet up for apres ski stories and hot tubs, still friends, after their lesson and your laps on the high speed quad! For more ski resorts with Bring a Friend deals in January, check out www.SkiAndSnowboardMonth.org
For tips on what to pack for skiing and how to dress properly for a day of skiing, see our Family Ski Trips guide to skiing and snowboarding!

Happy Trails in 2014!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A few of my favorite ski things!

Our Family Ski Vacation and Luxury Skiing Vacation blogs have moved, follow us at Luxury Ski Vacations and Family Ski Vacations! Thanks!

Like Oprah has her favorite things, here are my must-haves, winter warmers, ski niceties on the mountain, to enhance your ski day, ski vacation and vertical time!

Skiing comfort starts from the inside out. I love Hot Chillys as a base layer bottom -  great technical fabric with a seamless finish. SmartWool ski socks are a favorite too. Make sure your layers are smooth from your long undies to outer layers, no gaps or wrinkles - which get worse throughout the ski day. I just discovered adea, a Shrewsbury Mass company, they make beautiful base layer tops with Italian style and quality. Their tops are silky soft, but offer moisture wicking and  UV protection, and the microfiber doesn't pill, fade or lose its shape. The base layers are super light, perfect for travel as they are stylish enough to wear to après ski, and you can hand-wash them and they dry in an hour (read: less packing).

My Sugarloaf friend Julie Swain invented the warmest bra on the planet, really! I challenge you to find a warmer boulder holder on the mountain than this Polartec fleece bra. Leave it to a Loafer to come up with this, but its wicked warm, 100% fleece, soft and fuzzy on your skin too. You can find the Fleece Sports Bra on Amazon or Etsy.

For the cheap but thoughtful date, I still swear by disposable pocket hand warmers and toe warmers. HotHands  fire up heat inside your gloves and boots for 8 hours, great ski value at a buck a pair, even cheaper by the case, saving you potentially costly trips inside the lodge between runs. I admit I have a pack a day habit.

The Serius Snowdana is my security blanket neck warmer, it looks as stylish as possible and provides important face protection, lightweight cover from the wind and cold, and SPF. It's easy to wash and pack. 

For your ski man:
The Ski Bumper is a magnetic strip that you place on your car to keep your gear upright when you are unloading and packing. Haven't we all watched our skis slide along our car, scratching the paint job before hitting the ground?  Bo from Colorado's ski Bumper is $16, magnetic, totally detachable and eliminates that problem. All about the snow Bo also invented the Prep Pad for $13 for you to stand on in the parking lot while putting on your skis boots- keeping your ski sox, boots and your car carpet clean - priceless.  

For the Kids in your ski car:
My kids loved skiing Legos and wicky stix, bendable ski figures that take up minimal room in the car, ski bag, condo, but allow the kids to use their big imagination. My ski kids are grown up now but they would have loved Shredz, pose-able snowboarding action figures with their own detachable helmet, snowboard, and ID card. Shredz start at $10. You can takethe snowboard action toys inside or out on the snow, and they have free ride dud handles like Brody, Chase, Luke, and Shane.

Enjoy your family skiing, stay warm stay happy & healthy! 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Early December snow, ski fests and ski racing wins!

Our Luxury & Family Ski Vacation blogs have moved, follow us at Family Ski Trips and Luxury Ski Vacations! Thanks!

What a great early December ski weekend across the US, with snow, unseasonable cold, and victory for our US Ski Team.

In New England skiing, 210 Santas took to the ski slopes at Sunday River Maine, part of the 14th annual Santa Sunday - a local fundraiser that brings out skiing and riding Santas dressed all jolly and jovial. The Santas ski free with a donation to the local rotary, and get a 2nd free lift to use before Christmas after they participate in an 11am photo shoot. If you have never seen 200 Santas schussing the snowy slopes... well, it's a White Christmas sight! Sunday River also launched their new T72 Trail this weekend, the longest jumpline in the East. This terrain park trail is the brainchild of Simon Dumont, X-Games freeskier from Sunday River, who is on his way to compete in the first ever skiing halfpipe at Sochi Olympics 2014.

Out West, snow and cold swept through Colorado, Utah and Montana. The US Ski Team men made a brilliant showing at Beaver Creek's Audi Birds of Prey World Cup - with Ted Ligety winning the GS, and teammate Bode Miller a second behind for silver.

In Utah, a snowy Deer Valley Celebrity Classic brought snow and celebs like Dr Oz sporting cool OSBE Italian made ski helmets. Sponsors of this great Celebrity Skifest, televised on CBS, include Montage Deer Valley, Paul Mitchell, OSBE and Southwest Airlines. Highlights include watching TV stars on skis and witnessing the brother rivalry of  Phil and Steve Mahre in the race gates.

Meanwhile, in beautiful Lake Louise Canada, US Ski Team sweetheart Lindsey Vonn was back in the gates, just weeks after re-injuring her knee at Copper Colorado, and 10 months after her huge Schladming Austria crash. Vonn managed to place 5th in Super GS in at Lake Louise, she's vowing that she's back and better and gunning for Gold at Sochi!

The US women's ski team is bound for St Moritz Switzerland, while the men's alpine World Cup tour heads to Val D'Isère France next. The Road to Russia, and the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics looms ever closer...game on!

Stay tuned to Family Ski Trips and Luxury Ski Trips for all the ski resort and ski racing news you can use!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Sunday River Snowmaker's DNA...

Our Family Ski Vacation and Luxury Skiing Vacation blogs have moved, follow us at Luxury Ski Vacations and Family Ski Vacations! Thanks!

Words from Sunday River's snowmakers:

"It's a sickness. Anyone who makes snow is ill..."
"It takes a lot of Red Bull."
"There's always Plan B"
"If we're shut down, the mountain is shut down."
"We call it the war zone."
"This is not a job for the weak of mind or the weak of the body"
"It's part of our DNA."

"That's why this is the best mountain in America, we don't give up."
"I don't know why I am drinking coffee, I am going home to have a beer" at 6am...

See more of Man vs. Weather in Rory Strunk's video featuring Sunday River's snowmakers.... and the legendary White Heat trail turning white with 10 millions gallons of water in a 24 hour, 3 shift snowmaking day.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving Skiing!

Feels like winter. I don't know about you, but I am thinking Black Friday should be redubbed White Friday!

Cold temperatures and snow are sweeping across the nation, predicted to continue this Thanksgiving week. Mother Nature has obviously flipped the weather switch to winter. Skiers can give thanks this year as Turkey Day will be particularly chilly, and Black Friday more and more ski resort in the East & West are open for skiing and riding. 

18 New England ski resorts have already opened for skiing and riding this November, compared to only 9 at this time last season. Out west, Grand Targhee Wyoming is wide open with fresh snow, as is Wolf Creek Colorado. Big Sky Montana already has significant base and opens Thanksgiving day, ahead of schedule.

In New England, Killington has the most trails open (29), Sunday River and Sugarloaf in Minae are skiing on 21 and 22 trails each. New Hampshire's Bretton Woods, Loon, Waterville Valley, Wildcat are all open, Cranmore will reopen Friday. Vermont has the most ski resorts currently spinning lifts: Killington, Stowe, Okemo, Mount Snow, Stratton, Smugglers Notch and Sugarbush. Bromley and Jay Peak will re open Friday. Wachusett in Massachusetts is open, Jiminy Peak will reopen Friday.

Wouldn't you rather celebrate White Friday in the mountains on fresh snow and fresh air, than the BlackFriday rat race?! Burn calories from over stuffing yourself on Thanksgiving day.

Stay tuned for Black Friday lift ticket deals, call 'em White Sales, in your inbox in the next few days as ski resorts lure away from the shopping mall blow outs to their snowy alpine slopes!

Happy snowy Holidays!   See you on the slopes. Heather @ FamilySkiTrips & LuxurySkiTrips

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Lindsey Vonn's ski verdict twists in the knee

Our Family Ski Vacation and Luxury Skiing Vacation blogs have moved, follow us at Luxury Ski Vacations and Family Ski Vacations! Thanks!

Nov 19, 2013 at Copper Mountain in Colorado, Lindsey Vonn left the ski slopes in a ski patrol sled. Hardly the exit she has been training for. Vonn was training downhill and had just tweeted a great photo catching air on her Head skis. @lindseyvonn Catching some air today in Downhill training @gopro #headwhatsyourlimit.

The next day's ski training she crashed. Vonn was seen standing after the fall, non weight bearing and with support from coaches under both shoulders before being loaded into the patrol sled to be sent for a diagnostic MRI.

Lindsey Vonn, our great girl hope for the U.S. Ski Team, had successfully returned to the slopes a few months ago,  following extensive rehab and recovery from her dramatic knee injury (MCL, ACL, fractured tibia, etc) on February 5, 2013 at Schladming Austria. After that horrific accident, Vonn was medevac'd off the mountain, then flown home on Tiger Wood's private jet to the Sports Medicine Ortho Clinic in Vail, Colorado- her hometown.

Tom Kelly, US Ski Team spokesperson, said the ski patrol toboggan was standard procedure. 29-year-old Vonn saw her Vail doctor and a statement was issued today, Wednesday, that she partially tore her ACL and  strained a  ligament in that same right knee, in addition to shoulder contusions and mild facial abrasions.

Lindsey Vonn was expected to make a return to World Cup ski racing next week at Beaver Creek, with further plans to compete in Sochi Olympic Winter Games in February 2014, defending her Downhill Gold Medal. Now that is all a big question mark.
Sunday night Lindsey Vonn was spotted with boyfriend Tiger Woods at the Chiefs-Broncos game. Last week Woods and Vonn were seen skiing at Breckenridge Colorado.
Stay tuned for word on what Lindsey's ski future is... and her dating status...we still contend she should dump Tiger the cheater, and focus on not dumping on the slopes.. ouch!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ticket To Ride & Ski this November

Typically November is my least favorite month, its dark, no leaves left on the trees, and daylight savings doesn't really SAVE any daylight - it just takes it away from 4pm and moves it to 6am..whatever.  And then there's the #NoShaveNovember trend... I am all for men's health awareness but not a big fan of facial hair, scraggly beards, macho mustaches, goat t's - not for me! Skin to win is my motto.  Grooming is the new social media. Even the Red Sox knew when to shave off their beards.

The one promising aspect of November is that ski season is coming. November means ski resort openings, Warren Miller movie showings, Ski Shows in major cities (my personal favorite is the Boston Ski Show Nov 14-17)  where ski resort reps give out swag, lift tickets and you get to meet your ski icons like Seth Wescott, Dan & John Egan, Wayne Wong, and US Freestyle, Snowboard and US Ski Team racers on their road to Sochi Russia's Winter Games. Cool!  

This year's Warren Miller movie Ticket to Ride looks like just the ticket to get stoked for ski season with ski celebrities and pro snowboarders like Maine snowboarder Seth Wescott, freeskier Colby West, US Ski Team's Ted Ligety and Julia Mancuso, legendary ski mountaineer Chris Davenport, and the beautiful Gretchen Bleiler. This 64th Warren Miller Entertainment film takes you to exotic ski locales like  Valdez Alaska, Montana’s Big Sky, Switzerland's Eiger in theJungfrau, and the remote mountains of  Kazakhstan, Iceland and Greenland.

For November skiing, make tracks next weekend at Killington, Sunday River and Loon. In the Western Rockies,  you can ski at Loveland, Arapahoe Basin, Copper, and  Keystone. Europe has skiing at Solden Austria, Zermatt and Saas Fee Switzerland and Tignes France.

Instead of NoShaveNovember, how about GoSkiNovember?! See you on the slopes.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pre- Halloween skiing?

Bretton Woods opened today for top to bottom skiing, the day before Halloween. best of all lif tickets were free ... all treats, no tricks or gimmicks on this sunny but brisk October 30 ski day. Skiing and Riding on Range View trail is for today only service by the Zephyr high-speed quad from 9am- 4pm.
Bretton Woods is New Hampshire largest ski resort, and first in New Hampshire to open this season. So far for early season skiing in New England, Vermont's Killington and Maine's Sunday River both opened to the public Saturday, Oct 26. Killington has remained opened this midweek, and will offer Halloween skiing October 31, their early season lift ticket is $49.  
In the Rocky Mountains, Loveland and Arapahoe Basin are open for skiing and riding. In Europe Austria's Solden is open, in fact US Ski Team Teg Ligety already won his first World Cup there (Bode Miller finished 19th - former Director of Skiing at Bretton Woods - btw). Switzerland's Saas Fee and Zermatt are open for glacier skiing. Time to plan your family ski trips now, this is going to be a big snow winter.
Enjoy those early season turns! Any skiing in October is a bonus... So is watching the Boston Red Sox in the World Series Game 6! Go Sox... Go Skiing!

Family Ski Trips and Luxury Ski Trips

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

100 Days to Sochi & US Ski Team #Winning

We are 100 days away from Sochi 2014 Winter Games. NBC and the Today Show want you to know, as they bring you their throw down show down countdown. US Ski Team's Ted Ligety is in New York City today, Oct. 29, accepting the U.S. Olympic Committee's Olympic SportsMan of the Year Award exactly 100 days out from the Winter Games.

Befitting since the handsome, humble Ligety already won the ski season opener World Cup last weekend in Solden Austria, a promising start to his ski racing season. Bode Miller raced in Austria too, but couldn't catch Ligety split in his best GS event, Ted has won this GS three years straight on the Rettenbach Glacier in Solden Austria. Bode Miller got 19th, his first World Cup race since Feb. 2012.

U.S. Ski Team women Mikaela Shiffrin and Julia Mancuso placed sixth and 27 in Solden.  Lindsey Vonn did not compete in Austria, she was in NYC on the Today Show yesterday and late night with Letterman. Tiger's girlfriend (for now- remember I predicted she cut the Woods out come ski season)  is expected to return to the snowy gates Nov. 29 - Dec. 1 at Beaver Creek, Colorado's World Cup.

NBC is building up to  their coverage of the  XXII Olympic Winter Games from Sochi, Russia, which begins Feb. 6, 2014. In 100 days, NBC will kick off the first night of Olympics with the debut of men's and women's snowboard slopestyle in the Winter Games, starring my favorite snowboarding ginger Shaun White. The following night will be the Opening Ceremonies, in a change of format and formalities. Look for more NBC human interest stories, brought to you by Bob Costas, on alpine skiers, snowboarders and winter Olympic athletes on their Road to Sochi, Russia.

Meanwhile enjoy  The World  Series, get out and ski at Killington, Arapahoe Basin & Loveland, and check back here for World Cup news!

Go Red Sox, Go US Ski Team!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Skiing before Halloween!

Sunday River and Killington both opened for skiing to the public Oct 26, 2013. These two snowmaking super powers continue to dominate early season skiing in New England.
Killington had opened two day prior for season pass holders only - a nice pass perk, for sure! Sunday River has suspended midweek operation until next weekend, so no Halloween skiing there this year, but skiers and riders will be able to make tracks Nov 2-3.

The Big K, Killington remains open this week with the K-1 Express Gondola and North Ridge Triple accessing skiing on Great Northern and Rime trails, uploading and downloading from 9:00 a.m-3:30 p.m. Halloween skiing in Vermont, stay tuned for any costume discounts, as Killington has been charging $49 a day for lift tickets since opening.
Another early snow storm is hitting the western Rockies. California's Heavenly and Squaw Valley are getting snow, as is Big Sky Montana. So far only Arapahoe Basin and Loveland are open for skiing in The Rockies
Time to get you gear out and get ready to ski! #Winteriscoming! See more on Family Ski Trips and Luxury Ski Trips to plan your winter alpine assault!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Beast of the East 1st to Ski in the East

It's official, Killington Resort in Vermont opened today, October 24 at 1:30 first in the East for skiing. The Big K for the third consecutive year, spins the first lifts, the K-1 gondola ahead of all other New England resorts. Killington opened exclusively for season passholders and Express Card members today & Friday- making the pass privilege very real! Last season Killington gave their pass holders the longest ski season by opening first Oct 14 and staying open thru Memorial Day weekend!  Killington will open skiing to the public Saturday Oct 26, 2013 for $49 lift tickets, and some pre Halloween skiing in Vermont while the fall foliage still clings to the trees. The K-1 Express Gondola will offer uploading and downloading with advanced and expert skiing on the Rime trail. The KBL, Killington Base Lodge, will be open with skier service, food and bar. Killington's new summit Peak Lodge is not scheduled to open til December of 2013.

Who will open next for early season skiing in New England? My money is on Sunday River in Maine. They just announced they will open Saturday October 26, 2013  on Sunday River's T2 and Upper Punch. Speaking of Upper Punch, If The River opens an hour earlier to the public than Killington (8am in Maine versus 9am in Vermont), does that mean Sunday River scooped the Big K on their big public opening day?! I love the battle of snow guns, don't you?!

Out west in Colorado, Arapahoe Basin opened October 13, 2013 and Loveland nearby opened the following week on Oct 17, 2013. These Colorado high elevation resorts are perennial favorites for first tracks in the Rockies

Time to hit  those early season ski swaps and sales, get your family's ski gear ready to roll and do those leg squats - #winteriscoming! The Farmers Almanac is predicting a real snowy cold winter. You can be skiing before Halloween, costumes and all! Boo ya!

See you on the slopes !  For more tips on family skiing and for planning a luxury ski trip... check out our ski sites!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Columbus Weekend at Ski Resorts!

Don't you love this time of year? Autumn & anticipation... Fall foliage, brilliant red maples in New England or golden aspens out west, ushers in the promise of winter as the next season on tap.  Already the Almanac is promising an exceptionally cold and snowy winter for skiers and riders. The snow flurries have begun in Idaho and Montana - confirming I made the right pick booking a January ski trip to Big Sky & Moonlight Basin- the biggest skiing in America! How about you? Have you planned a ski trip out west? Have you invested in a ski pass? Bought new ski gear? Tick tock...

Columbus Day weekend many ski resorts take advantage of the three- day holiday to build winter anticipation with fall foliage festivals, ski sales and season pass promos.

Sunday River has a fun fall festival with chairlift rides, Maine food tasting, a craft fair and their zany must-see Wife Carrying Competition! Peak foliage in the Maine mountains is capped off with couples competing in a down and dirty obstacle course for the wife's weight in beer and some serious cash.

Sugarloaf hosts homecoming weekend with fun, food and foliage and an Uphill Mountain Climb as well. Mt Abram and Attitash host Oktoberfest - pre season parties with beer and the best deals on passes and gear.

These are all great reasons to head to the mountains, chill with your ski peeps - some of whom you haven't seen since March or April. Time to get stoked for the fast approaching ski season. You can ride chairlifts, drink beer at the base lodge and even wager on which New England ski resort will open for skiing first? Will it be Killington again, or Sunday River? Halloween skiing? Out west, will the first chair go to Loveland, Arapahoe...or who knows? Give me your best prediction for ski season 2013-14! 
See on the slopes very soon...follow us on Facebook & Twitter until then! 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Skiing, Tiger Woods, Lindsey Vonn and the National Enquirer?

Our Family Ski Vacation and Luxury Skiing Vacation blogs have moved, follow us at Luxury Ski Vacations and Family Ski Vacations! Thanks!

Ski girl confession: I just read the National Enquirer. I need to shower after touching the trashy tabloid now but first I need to blog and vent. After three decades of being a respectable ski journalist and writer, I caved. It was the 9/11 issue to be truly tasteless. Ski Mag tweeted out the cover story and I was intrigued, "Tiger's girl caught cheating." Later that day, there it was at the supermarket check out, the aforementioned rag with my ski idol Lindsey Vonn on the cover (next to OJ &  Brangelina).

First, that never happens, popular media has zero interest in ski racing as a cover story, except maybe when Bode Miller admitted to skiing Drunk at the Olympics.

Second, the Enquirer scoop "confirmed" that Lindsey had been seen cheating on Tiger..say what?! Sounded too good to be true. “They wouldn’t print it if it weren’t true” mantra flashed through my mind as I tore open the déclassé magazine.

Let me clarify I am not a big fan of the Lindsey Tiger relationship (I facebooked about it in February when he sent his private plane to pick her up in Austria after her ski injury). I guess I do judge and subscribe to the "once a cheater always a cheater" sentiment. This is not racial, it's reputation.

Along with my embarrassment for peaking inside the piece of crap mag, I was admittedly excited about the news. I love Lindsey and don't feel good about her dating Mr. Woods...Didn't he have a beautiful Swedish supermodel that he couldn't remain faithful to?! Lindsey needs to have her eye on the prize, rehabbing to return to the Olympics and winning Gold at Sochi Winter Olympics in February 2014. She's returned to the ski slopes, practicing in the gates. Goofing around with the philandering golfer didn't seem like a fit to me. So if she's seeing someone else on the side? I guess that is rich irony for the Tiger.

Well, so that you don't have to buy the Enquirer yourself, don't worry I didn't (I swear - I'm a speed reader - had it read before my Chardonnay and cheddar cheese were bagged), Miss Vonn was seen backstage at a Jason Timberlake JayZee concert in Miami last month in a "long session of deep kissing with a tall good looking man," very sensation details right down the "gripping her rear." Photographs showed Vonn's fabulous gams from a million miles away - and I would never exaggerate nor would the Enquirer, right?! Though I did smile at the subtitle, "Is Woods finally getting a taste of his own medicine?!" and the Sexpot Lindsey label. #Lol
Enquiring minds don't really need to know.

Go Lindsey, stay focused and fast, stay on the snow and stay out of the woods - #lol. I'm going to rinse the naughty newsprint off now.

Heather Burke Editor of www.FamilySkiTrips.com and www.LuxurySkiTrips.com

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Are you ready for a Ski Nation?!

Ok, so maybe we don't need another mobile app, or another ski app for that matter...but here goes. Ski Nation launched today. Sounds like a season pass good across the globe, like the Epic Pass now valid at 26 major ski resorts  - but no, it's a group of Olympic and X Games gold medalists and world champions who are pooling their talents and promoting a mobile application and independent skier network,  to debut this winter  2013-14 ideally timed for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.  

Ski Nation is a $300,000 so-called "crowd-funding" campaign. The Ski Nation mobile app creates a lifetime record of places where you have skied, while allowing ski biz peeps and companies to provide information and offer discounts once you have opted in. Ski Nation is free, and available at most major ski resorts  and Nordic centers. The app is unique since it is not marketed or featuring one resort, its a free-form free-style sharing of ski intel, according to our friends at Ski Area Management.

"Ski Nation is for all skiers regardless of age, experience, skill, or their home mountain," said Olympic gold medalist and four-time World Champion Ted Ligety, co-founder of the group.

Other Olympic and World Champion athletes involved include  Bode Miller, X Games freestyle Champion Sammy Carlson, Tanner Hall, Simon Dumont, Tom Wallisch, speed skiing champ Franz Weber, and extreme skier Wendy Fisher, and free style medal hopeful Hannah Kearney.
Jack Turner is one of the founders, we loved his work with SnowMonsters as ski safety education for young skiers and riders, by the way, and the Utah Olympics.

 You can pledge support  (ok, dough) at www.SkiNation.com and be part of the initial movement  with special lifetime benefits and input to the finished product. You can also follow their progress on Facebook
You heard it hear first at Family Ski Trips... soon we'll be skiing!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Biggest Skiing in America - Yellowstone, Big Sky, Moonlight - Boom!

I hate to say I told you so, but I did. I tweeted, on July 26, 2013 - ‏"@FamilySkiTrips26 Jul The Yellowstone Club to buy The Club at Spanish Peaks with Big Sky Resort! Good ski news! What's next? Maybe they buy @MoonlightBasin too #BiggestSkiinginAmerica #Boom http://fb.me/QLf1vITJ  "

Prediction come true: on August 15, 2013 Yellowstone Club owner CrossHarbor Capital, in partnership with Boyne Resorts, who owns and operates Big Sky Resort, announced that they are acquiring Moonlight Basin from Lehman Brothers Holdings. 

Big Sky will manage Moonlight Basin, they already share a lift  - the Iron Horse quad, share flanks of  Lone Peak's awesome terrain, and offer an interconnected lift ticket. For the past three seasons,  Big Sky & Moonlight Basin have marketed the Biggest Skiing in America.... a combined area of 5,700 ski-able acres, 4,350 vertical feet and 23 chairlifts. These stats eclipse Vail's 5,200 and rivals that of Whistler/Blackcomb.

Well, that big Montana ski experience just got bigger if you consider Moonlight Basin abuts Big Sky which neighbors Yellowstone Club and Spanish Peaks - another private ski community with lifts and lodges including the Pinnacle atop the Ram Charger lift at Big Sky. I don't see Yellowstone Club dropping their secure boundaries and letting the riff raff in anytime soon, but the  modest terrain at Spanish Peaks will likely become fair game.

I am a huge fan of Big Sky - one of my favorite ski resorts anywhere. Moonlight Basin also makes my list - it has been a sleeping giant, no big crowds and pretty amazing terrain - comparable to neighboring Big Sky.  Moonlight has its own community of stunning slope side homes and a gorgeous mid-mountain Lodge but struggled through foreclosure with Lehman Brothers. I believe the Moonlight giant is about to be awakened. Boyne (who owns Sunday River, Sugarloaf, Loon, Boyne, Boyne Highlands, and Brighton) is big on quality lifts, grooming and snowmaking, Yellowstone is all about posh lodging and exclusivity. An interesting Montana match made for skiers.

Stay tuned.. and be sure to follow family ski trips on twitter - for breaking news in the ski biz! 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Back to School - Ski bargains for College Students!

Ok, so I wish I could go back to college. I see the excitement in my two kids' eyes as they pack and plan for their fall semesters on campus.  New curriculum, seeing their classmates, and of course the anticipation of keggers and crazy times . My envy really piques when I see the annual season pass deals that roll out for college students. Certainly incentive to roll out of bed on weekends and hit the ski slopes.   

Here is a "new"  New England pass deal for college students - the 4.0 College Pass. Clever name, and an impressive conglomerate of 4 mountains - Okemo Mountain Resort, Killington Resort, Pico Mountain and Mount Sunapee Resort. And the price is nice at $369, if you purchase (or Mom and Dad do) by December 15, 2013. Even better scholastic news, the pass has no blackout dates - so you can ski during holidays, college break, Presidents weekend, you get the drill. There is also a buddy bonus, you can bring up to five college friends for 50% off tickets. Sounds like a plan, and an après ski party! The 4.0 College Pass gets students 378 trails or 150 miles of skiable terrain with 8,727 vertical feet at the 4 ski resorts, 19 terrain parks and 59 lifts - how's that for some Econ 101. Vermont and New Hampshire road trip anyone?

A smart student should compare that 4.0 pass to the College New England Pass, which is $349 if you buy before Nov 30, with unlimited skiing at Sunday River,  Sugarloaf and Loon. These three ski areas combine to give students  347 trails, 42 lifts, 2,265 acres and 7,260 vertical feet, to weigh in to their winter decision making.  Obviously ideal for students in proximity to Maine and New Hampshire ski slopes.  

Jay Peak and Burke Mountain have a Judge Pass for just $199 at the Northern Vermont sister ski resorts, but you need to jump on that price by September 5.

So make Dean's List, and make a decision on where to do your downhill thesis this season. The college pass deals will be making a splash at college fairs everywhere. Enjoy the student discount during those sweet four years before reality, careers and real ski sticker shock sets in.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Summer fun for skiers - bike, hike, zip!


Just because you are jonesing for snow and ski season to return...doesn't mean you can't make the most of the mountains and summer months with alpine alternatives. Ski resorts are rolling out summer amusements to retain business between snow seasons.

Mountain biking at ski resorts is a cool option, particularly when you can ride the chair lift up with your bike and enjoy an adrenaline rush ride down. Just be warned that green circle ski trails are more like black diamond descents on a bike - the surface is not soft carve-able snow - its dirt and rocks, grass and gravel. A full suspension bike is recommended and riding experience is essential for big mountain biking. See Heather's article on Sunday River's mountain bike park that offers 30 trails, lift accessed.

Hiking is another option, and ideal with a chairlift ride, up or down - your choice. Again, hiking bots are better than sneakers. You will be surprised how much steeper and uneven the trails are without snow cover. The reward is seeing how long, scenic and sprawling the mountains are in summer.

Ziplining is one of the coolest 21st century add-ons at ski resorts. The chairlift brings you to the summit, or at least up the mountain, where you harness in and zip down a cable from platform to platform with amazing views and a rush of a ride. I love Gunstock's zipline in New Hampshire - you control your own speed, and the scenery of Lake Winnipesaukee is amazing!

Okemo in Vermont has a zipline tour and a Timber Ripper mountain coaster - which is like a mini-railroad cart that swerves down the mountain on a track... very fun.

So don't dismiss the ski mountains in summer - there's plenty of fun pastimes and pretty spectacular scenery too! Ski season will be here soon enough!

Monday, June 3, 2013

SAM's best & worst in ski marketing for 2012-13

Ski Area Management magazine is like the Bible for ski industry peeps, and the Sammy's are the Oscars, Emmy's and ESPY's of alpine awards! I am always excited to see the cheers & jeers for this year's ski ad campaigns from SAM magazine.

These are funny but usually right on! SAM features their best and worst in their May issue after the snow melts and ski area managers have met at the NSAA annual gathering in some sunny resort devoid of snow! This year it was Palm Springs...

On the East Coast, some of our favorites, Stowe, Sugarloaf, and Killington got kudos for their ski ads in print and online. Meanwhile a few got demerit marks, like Bretton Woods for a blurry ad and Stratton for a stuffed bear hucking off a jump. You just never know what's going to be brilliant and what is deemed "not your best work!"

See Heather's ski blog on Boston.com for this year's ski resort winners including props for learn to ski and season pass promos in the East this year!  And we'll see you on the slopes ...in the fall.

Until then we'll be biking and waterskiing to stay in top ski shape!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Beast of the East...ski season ends for 2012-13!

Killington wins the longest ski winter 2013 for the East! Killington opened first this ski season on Oct 13 exclusively to passholders - ahead of perennial rope dropper Sunday River for a second year in a row.
The Big K, Kmart, #BeastoftheEast, had hoped to ski till June after such a good snow winter in New England...well, they outwitted, outplayed and outlasted the rest...but Sunday May 26 was their last day! In classic North East fashion - it rained then snowed for closing weekend, but there was no charge for skiing and riding on the Superstar Quad and Trail - some walking required, but now whining - it was a valiant finish. Did I mention it was free skiing?

The last time Killington stayed open into June was June 1, 2002. The latest the Beast has been skied was June 22, 1997 with that year's bounty of 301-inches of snow. This winter's snow accumulation was about 250-inches.
For decades Killington was The Beast with the longest ski season in the East, then Sugarloaf, Sunday River, and even Jay Peak, gave it a run. Looks like the Beast is back, and the European style umbrella bars, added in 2011 after Irene damaged the Superstar Pub, are the perfect complement to spring skiing in Vermont.

So now we start to wager who will open first? Halloween skiing? Till then, enjoy your water skiing, hiking, biking, boating, whatever you do to stay sane in summer! Stay tuned to Family Ski Trips

Saturday, May 11, 2013

How was your ski season 2012-13?

Killington is still spinning, perhaps through June - and The West just got dumped on - a foot of fresh at Arapahoe Basin. But I have switched gears to biking. Next week we launch the ski boat for some h2o skiing.

With a  hint of melancholy - here's my best and worst of this 2012-13 ski season:

The best was the SNOW, plenty of consistent snow fall East and West, and no big January thaws. So much better than the previous winter...thank you Mother Nature for quieting the global warming gurus.

The Weather Channel won respect with their crazy snow storm - very well timed for a bountiful snow year. Who will ever forget Nemo and Euclid's big dumps?! Network meteorologists resisted the urge to whisper the Weather Channel names! Brilliant branding.

There were monumental mountain birthdays - Vail hit the big 50, Loveland 70, NH's Gunstock, Cranmore and Cannon all turned 75. Dumont Cup at Sunday River reached 5 years - an event I have covered since Simon first hucked himself 75' in 2008 to break the world record. Hard to believe Sugarloaf's Reggae Fest turned 25!

My son passed his Level 2 PISA certification, while attending school full time at MSU and teaching skiing on weekends at Big Sky Resort in Montana. I am so very proud of his successful balancing act. I also admire how beautifully Ian skis - both technically and joyfully. He truly loves the sport we shared with him 19 years ago, starting at 23 months old. He has taken in to the next level - literally - PSIA Level 2! Those in the know recognize the alpine rigors of this examination process and the professionalism required.

Greg and I had amazing adventures, as usual, but I never take for granted our travels. We skied our way up the St Lawrence Seaway in Quebec over New Years. It was frigid cold, but the fantastic scenery and hospitality in Quebec City, Mont Sainte Anne and Le Massif were worth the chill.

Our ski safari to southwest Colorado unveiled new stashes, Telluride being a new favorite, Durango a close second, plus Crested Butte, Monarch and Wolf Creek. A refreshing detour from the big resorts and crowds of Summit County.

A romantic getaway to Bretton Woods and the grand Mount Washington Resort Hotel was a lovely reminder that New England has some top lodging, skiing and scenery - where you can sneak away even for a night and feel exhilarated.

Ending the ski season in the Swiss Alps, yeah that was cool too. Seriously, Switzerland is the king of skiing and we hit five of the best, from charming Adelboden and the vast Aletsch Arena, to the spectacular glaciers at Saas Fee, the steeps of Verbier, and the grand finale - Zermatt! Greg had proposed to me 27 years ago at this legendary ski resort...returning for three days of sun and perfect snow did not disappoint! A vow renewal...we love each other and skiing... still.

This ski season was slightly blemished by my tibia fracture, time stamp 1/28/13 11:30. I kept skiing - amid the 12 day assignment, stoic or silly? In my skier's silver lining playbook, I had the upside of a same season comeback, squeezing in 44 ski days. Already looking forward to next year's 47! Need to start skiing my age in days...and you?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Swiss pass...for skiers on the go!

We recently traveled to Switzerland, the ultimate ski country, a destination we had not visited in 27 years... since photographer Greg proposed to ski writer Heather in 1986 in Zermatt...

Well, another happy chapter ensues as the editors of FamilySkiTrips and LuxurySkiTrips toured five fantastic Swiss ski destinations - traveling entirely by Swiss trains, buses and ski lifts all part of their Swiss Pass.  The trains worked with Swiss watch precision, the snow in April was amazing and the scenery was fantastic! So was the fondue ...
See our review on how to pack for two week ski trip when you are carrying your skis, boots and luggage for a  five ski resort odessey, see photos of the Swiss ski resort of Adelboden, Aletsch Arena, Saas Fee, Verbier and the legendary Zermatt.

We are home safe and sound, glad we flew into Logan airport and Boston the day before the  horrific Boston marathon massacre. We are blessed and send our best thoughts to all peace loving skiers and runners and doers across across the planet. Work hard, play hard, celebrate often!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Best Easter skiing in years!

If the Easter bunny is a skier, he's been spotted him on the slopes in past seasons, he has to be stoked for this Sunday! Easter weekend is as early as it gets on the calendar, and the skiing is as good as it gets all around the country! 
You should consider taking the family to the ski mountains this weekend. The snow covered mountains are very spiritual, and many ski areas provide Sunday sunrise service. As a bonus, there are egg hunts on the ski trails, costume parades and even ticket deals if you dress the part. It's going to be an epic Easter weekend to ski. Next winter Easter is late again, April 20...

Read Heather's ski blog on Boston.com for Easter ski events in New England. And get out your Easter bonnet, and your best spring ski outfits for sun and fun on the snow ...April is going to be great - no April foolin!
See our Top Ski Resorts for Spring Skiing in New England at Family Ski Trips and our Top Ski Resorts for Spring Skiing Out West on Luxury Ski Trips.

We'll see you on the slopes.

Don't forget the SPF! 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Thank you for being ski friends...

"The fact that you are back skiing so soon speaks to the passion that you have for the sport and for your ski writing," said my editor friend Susan Grisanti from Maine Magazine. Fellow ski writer Amy Patenaude (of the Pats Peak family) said, "Heather, I believe you have never taken for granted how much you love to ski and that you didn't need an injury to remind you how much you love to fly downhill! You are strong and fast and fun, and we all want you back on the slopes!"

Comments like that make me grateful for what I do, and for the people who share my passion. I am also thankful that my tibia fracture did not sideline me for the entire ski season - just 5 painful weeks. The physical discomfort was nothing compared to the emotional frustration and fear of losing what I love. Writing about skiing from my desk looking out at the continually accumulating snow was anguish. But I had friends sending me texts and messages that they were skiing my favorite runs for me, keeping me in the alpine loop  in my absence. I appreciate that more than I can express.

This weekend at Sunday River, being able to ski wall to wall corduroy, cranking arcs on a white welcome mat of soft snow with friends was amazing. We skied 45 runs and logged 54,000' of vertical in two days - which is way more fun that rehabbing on a stationary bike!  Shout out to to Sunday River's groomers for the seamless carpet from Jordan Bowl to White Heat.

I thank all of you, friends and followers for your kind words of encouragement, for reading my blogs, even when I was fractured and freaking out, broken and blue, and for the big smiles when you saw me back on the slopes.

And finally to my husband, my forever ski date and photographer, thank you for shoveling all that powder snow that fell in February and for not pointing out the obvious - that I jammed up our winter plans with my injury. But the rest, and the best, is still to come this ski season. Stay tuned.
See you on the slopes!