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What is your rating scale?

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  December 18, 2012 11:19 AM

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In rounding up some of New England’s most underrated ski areas, we realized just how many gems go under the radar. But really, what is underrated? One of the mountains I had originally planned to add to the list was Smuggler’s Notch, but ultimately cut it because the popular resort didn’t seem a key ingredient in being “underrated.”

However, the Jeffersonville, Vt. resort did get a nod from one reader, who simply stated, “It’s not just for kids.” That just about sums it up. Clearly, Smuggs is marketed as a family resort, but anyone who has ever skied or ridden there can attest to the area’s gnarly and challenging terrain. Yet we tend to think of it as a genteel spot because of the family angle. Smuggler’s Notch really is one of the best spots in New England for skiing families, but the place has teeth too.

Whether it be the image the resort wants to portray or whatnot, we assume certain characteristics on places that truly may or may not be a fair assessment. Family-owned mountains such as Black and Saddleback (got $12 million?) simply don’t have the revenue needed for an all-out marketing blitz in the Northeast, yet they deliver two of the most rewarding skiing and riding experiences in the Northeast. The list goes on: Gunstock, Pat’s Peak, Bromley, Ragged, Berkshire East…

Underrated ski areas are like a secret stash, for your eyes only. You know where the goods are and know how to get them. But even New England’s largest ski resorts can be underrated in their own way. It’s all about perception, of course. I try to visit one new place each year in order to soak up different skiing environments and cultures. While the number of spots I’ve yet to visit begins to dwindle with age, it is that variety and knowledge of varying degrees that makes us go outside the box and learn more about places we may overlook because of what’s in the back of our minds about them.

Got any overlooked spots that other skiers and riders should venture to? Share with the class. Or, if you feel the need to keep things on the down low…don’t. We understand.

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Eric Wilbur is a lifelong recreational skier who spends most of his winter and spring in the mountains of New England. He does not ski in jeans. You can read more of Eric's work here.

Heather Burke is an award winning ski journalist with over a decade of ski news coverage. As a former ski instructor and a ski parent, she knows the ski biz from the inside out. She and her family visit New England ski resorts, as well as the West and Canada, to report on the latest trends and their best family finds. Her husband Greg takes all the accompanying photos, and their work can be seen at www.familyskitrips.com and www.luxuryskitrips.com.

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