To everyone that thinks working at a ski resorts sounds like a dream job, picture this week. They'll be working extra hours, including Christmas day, to assure vacationing families and skiers the best possible holiday. A week ago, ski resort operators rejoiced over a foot of fresh snow. Then the first day of winter brought warmth and the four letter word that starts with R and ends with N. Now ski areas are watching the thermometer and sending their snowmakers back out to resurface trails that lost snow cover. It's never dull in the ski biz, and holidays often mean time away from their families. Ski resort employees are consistently faced with the challenge of winter weather inconsistency, particularly around the important Christmas New Year's holidays. As Sunday River's snow report says, "Our snowmakers are back at it tonight working harder than the elves at Santa’s workshop. The elves make toys while we make snow!"
It's still a White Christmas at ski resorts throughout New England, a veritable winter wonderland, with sparkling trees and many snow blanketed trails. In fact, Okemo is 60% open, with the most ski terrain in the East - 72 trails on 438 acres. Killington has 55 trails and 309 acres of skiing. Stratton, Stowe, Mount Snow and Bromley all have over half their terrain open. In Maine, Sunday River has 56 trails and almost 300 acres of terrain, Sugarloaf is skiing on 26 trails and 202 acres. In New Hampshire, Cranmore, Attitash, Sunapee, Loon, Waterville Valley and Gunstock all have about three dozen trails and top to bottom skiing. There are also plenty of festive events planned, après ski bonfires, fireworks, skiing mascots out for photos. This year's Christmas New Year's holidays falling on Wednesday provides many New England ski families with two weeks of no school for the kids. I can't think of a better excuse to spend some of that time on the ski slopes.
Just remember that last weekend's warmth followed by a return to freezing temps will make for some fast ski conditions. Look for trails counts to start to climb as ski resorts work hard to freshen their slopes with manmade snow and all important grooming. Ski with care and have fun on the slopes.
Happy Ski Holidays! See you on the slopes.
Photos of Killington and Pico Vermont by Greg Burke Dec 19-20, 2013
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.