The Beast of the East, Killington Vermont, wins the last ski resort spinning award again this spring. All the other big dogs of late season skiing have closed, most recently Sugarloaf and Sugarbush last weekend. While Killington is closed midweek, they plan to run the Superstar Express Quad with advanced ski terrain Friday - Sunday every weekend through June 2 if the snow allows. Lift tickets are $39, and if you present a ski pass or ticket from another resort you get 50% off Friday's ticket, 25% off Saturday and Sunday.
Killington was first to open this ski season as well, on Oct 13 exclusively to passholders. The last time Killington stayed open into June was June 1, 2002. The latest the Beast has been open was June 22, 1997 with that year's bounty of 301-inches of snow. This year's snow accumulation is at 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.
By Clarke Canfield, Associated Press
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Buoyed by plentiful snow and good weather, Northeast ski resorts rebounded this past winter from a lackluster 2012 season that was plagued by lack of snow and high temperatures.
For the 2012-13 ski season, ski areas in New England and New York had an estimated 13.3 million skier and snowboarder visits, according to the National Ski Areas Association. That’s up 20 percent from 11 million skier visits the previous winter.
David Behany of Brewer said it was one of the best ski years he’s seen in his 45 years of skiing.
‘‘I’d say it was in the top seven or eight,’’ said Behany, 52. Behany, who works at Ski Rack Sports in Bangor, skied nearly 60 days this winter at western Maine’s Sugarloaf resort; his wife went 89 times.
Nationally, U.S. ski areas had an estimated 56.6 million skier and snowboarder visits during the season, an 11 percent increase over the prior winter and the largest year-over-year gain in 30 years, according to the NSAA’s preliminary year-end survey report. All regions of the country saw an increase. State-specific tallies were not available.
The lack of snow and high temperatures made for a dismal 2011-12 ski season for many New England mountains.
By contrast, this past winter was a snowy one, luring skiers and snowboarders back to the slopes. Portland, Maine, had nearly 100 inches this winter, up from 44 inches the year before. Concord, N.H., had 82 inches, up from 49 inches.
And with a cold April, ski mountains in northern New England stayed open longer than last year, when record-high temperatures in March forced many to shut down. Sugarloaf and Vermont’s Sugarbush and Killington resorts were still open this weekend.
At Bretton Woods in New Hampshire, spokesman Craig Clemmer said the season’s final ticket sales figures are still being tallied, but it looks like the season will stand as one of the top five ever. New snowmaking equipment allowed the resort to open with more terrain than usual, and there were mid-winter conditions consistently from Nov. 15 to April 15, he said.
‘‘Mother Nature smiled upon us and technology backed us up,’’ Clemmer said.
Some years, ‘‘all of a sudden the bottom drops out,’’ when the weather turns warm and the season ends abruptly, he said. This year, the resort considered staying open even longer. ‘‘There was phenomenal snow quality this year,’’ he said.
Although the season started off tentatively with the first major snowstorm not arriving until late December, New Hampshire’s Waterville Valley ended up being open for 147 days, the longest season in its history, said CEO Chris Sununu. Overall, the resort saw a 23 percent increase in skier visits this winter over last year, he said.
The Vermont Ski Areas Association won’t release its official 2012-13 ski numbers until June, but early indications are the season was well above average and far ahead of the 2011-12 season.
Spokeswoman Sarah Neith said the association has gotten a few end-of-season surveys and things are looking good.
‘‘Some are reporting double-digit increases over last year,’’ she said.
One of the keys to the season was that there was snow during all the major holiday periods, she said. Sugarbush set a one-day record for skier visits on Dec. 28, with a 9 percent increase over its previous high.
Scott Brandi, who operates West Mountain in Glens Falls, N.Y., and is president of Ski Areas of New York, said the state’s ski mountains were buoyed by good weather and a March that will be the benchmark for all future Marches. Revenue and number of skiers jumped 3 to 5 percent over 2011-12, he said.
‘‘As a rebound season for us in New York coming off the prior year, which was one of the worst in history, New York state did very, very well,’’ Brandi said.
The season also stretched from 90 to 100 days last year to 120 to 130 days this season, Brandi said.
In Maine, Freeport Ski and Bike shop co-owner Jamie Richardson saw a lot of people get skis tuned that looked like they’d been sitting idle for a while. Beginner ski sales were also up, he said.
‘‘That suggests that people who don’t tend to go skiing were getting out there,’’ Richardson said. ‘‘They’re a big part of it. The hardcore people always find their way to the mountains, no matter how bad the year.’’
Sunday River, Maine’s most-visited mountain with more than half a million annual skier visits, had a 7 percent increase this winter, said spokeswoman Darcy Morse.
‘‘Busy is good,’’ she said.
Associated Press writers Holly Ramer in Concord, N.H., Wilson Ring in Montpelier, Vt., and Rik Stevens in Albany, N.Y., contributed to this report.
Based on some of the images from this trip report, quite a few folks showed up for Sunday River’s final day of the season last month, when the Maine resort offered free skiing and riding. So, the odds are you might expect a similar crowd this weekend when Sugarbush is slated to re-open with free lift service both Saturday and Sunday.
Weather permitting, Sugarbush plans to run the lifts beginning Saturday for one final weekend this season, celebrating the Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo while they’re at it. Simply show up at the ticket window, and you’re on your way. No strings attached, unless you want to donate a few bucks to the Vermont Land Trust to help preserve the iconic Bragg Farm in Fayston.
“In lieu of a ticket, I would just ask everyone to consider a gift of any amount to the Vermont Land Trust to help them complete the conservation of Bragg Farm,” resort owner Win Smith wrote on his blog.” We have donated $10,000 toward this effort but there is still much more money to raise. Your support would be greatly appreciated.”
Skiers and riders can also save time at the ticket window by putting their names on a will-call list.
Sugarloaf also plans to re-open for the weekend, and of course, Killington is still rocking the slopes daily with the hopes that Superstar may even have a few more weeks left.
Hard to believe as spring is in full swing that ski lifts are still spinning. Killington continues to run the Superstar Quad daily from 9am to 5pm all this week and next weekend, then plans to close midweek and reopen for skiing Friday, Saturday and Sunday May 10-12 (conditions permitting of course). Sugarloaf closed for the midweek but plans to reopen this Saturday and Sunday for skiing, and has not ruled out the following Mother's Day weekend for skiing, stay tuned. Jay Peak just announced they will not reopen this weekend as hoped, while Sugarbush decided to reopen May 4- 5 with free skiing with your donation to Vermont Land Trust.
May 4-5 weekend is the Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo as well, so there are plenty of reasons to celebrate on snow. Don a Derby hat and drink mint juleps at après ski on Saturday as you watch the Run for the Roses. Skiing and horse racing all in one day - I may have put my money on Itsmyluckyday. Sombreros and tacos to go with your soft corn snow on Sunday, call it Ski-o de Mayo perhaps?
This late in the ski season, be sure to check the snow report and Killington, Sugarbush, and Sugarloaf's websites before you go. Some walking to lifts may be required, sunscreen and spring skiing costumes are encouraged.
This ski winter was a winner....
1. First and foremost, there was the SNOW. New England received quality and quantity snow much of the season, a vast improvement over the previous. The Weather Channel exhausted their silly snow storm alphabet, with names like Nemo and Euclid delivering big dumps. Skiers that had their downhill days dialed got dozens of western-like powders days here in the East.
2. Sugarloaf was the winner of our Boston.com Skiing Showdown with over 63,000 voters participating. The Loaf rose above the rest - edging out Jay Peak in the end. Sugarbush (last year's winner) and Stowe made the final four, but Sugarloaf fans tipped the scale with their fierce passion.
3. Sugarloaf is beloved and big... big enough to get lost at, just ask Nicholas Joy of Medford, Mass. The fact that JOY survived 40 hours, two cold nights alone on Sugarloaf Mountain, but walked out on his own, definitely makes my top 5 of winners this winter. #MedfordStrong.
4. The U.S. Ski Team gets props for winning crystals globes around the Globe. Ted Ligety won five World Championships medals. Mikaela Shiffrin, at just 18, won World Cup Slalom Gold. Lindsey Vonn won her 59th World Cup and captured her 6th Downhill Title, impressive considering her season ending injury in early February. America's ski team sweetheart is back in the gym like a tiger (sorry, couldn't resist - for anyone out of the loop - she's dating Tiger Woods) training for Sochi's Winter Games. The U.S. Ski Team is looking strong for the 2014 Olympics.
5. For me, getting back on skis in March after a January tibia fracture was my highlight. In a skier's silver lining playbook, an early winter injury can have the upside of a same season comeback. It was indescribable joy returning to my favorite sport and the thrill of carving downhill. I still managed to squeezed in 44 ski days, including a grand finale in the Swiss Alps making this a memorable ski season for me. But, aren't they all?!
Ski season isn't over yet. You can still make turns at Sugarloaf, Jay Peak and Killington.
Still open for skiing out west are Snowbird Utah, Arapahoe Basin and Aspen Highlands in Colorado, Mammoth in California, Bachelor and Timberline in Oregon, and Lake Louise and Whistler Blackcomb in Canada. Photos of Sugarloaf and Zermatt by Greg Burke
Last weekend while New Englanders were slathering on sunscreen, pond skimming and enjoying spring snow at their leisure, speed skiers in Verbier Switzerland were donning tight suits and trying to ski faster than 156mph.
Verbier hosts the annual Speed Skiing World Championships - where European daredevils wear lycra race suits and bullet shaped helmets attempting to break the world record for fastest skiing. The vertical venue is the steep face of Mont Fort's 10,925' glacier. I skied Verbier a week ago and can attest to the crazy sick steepness of this run and mountain. I made many turns - no tuck.
This year, in hot pursuit of the French speed record set at Les Arcs of 156 mph, the crazy Swiss constructed a 110-foot long plastic ramp with a 60-degree pitch above the speed ski track in an attempt to gain more speed. Unfortunately it didn't work.
The fastest ski time at the FIS XSpeedSki Cup was Simone Origone from Italy at 134.84 mph, he is the world record holder and Verbier record holder at 140.31. His younger brother Ivan Origone was 2 mph behind for 2nd - talk about sibling rivalry.
The fastest woman was Swede Sanna Tidstrand skiing the course at 128 mph. Tracie Sachs was the fastest US woman participating, 118 mph for lucky 13th. There were no US men placing.
So the French race track at Les Arcs continues to be the fastest, where Simone Origone clocked his 156.2 mph and Sanna Tidstrand skied 150.74 mph, both in April 2006. The fastest snowboard time of 125 mph also belongs to Les Arcs and Australian Darren Powell. A new British snowboard record was set at Verbier last week, 94.26 mph for Jamie Barrow. He's 20 and told the crowd how difficult it is to keep a snowboard straight at that speed. I bet that's very true at almost 100mph, thanks for that tip Jamie.
Blame it on Verbier's amazing scenery, I took my time and skied Mont Fort much more slowly, maybe 25 mph tops. Having also witnessed Verbier's wild après ski scene on my visit, I can guarantee that even though this season's ski speeding event was not off the charts, the parties were likely off the hook.
Verbier Switzerland photos by Greg Burke
I can't think of a better time to escape to the mountains. If you were about to put your ski boots away, reconsider a retreat to the snowy slopes for mid-winter ski conditions and the serenity that only the high alpine can provide. Lifts are still spinning in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont with serious snow depths and some traditional spring ski festivities. Here is what's happening in the ski hills this week and weekend:
Sugarloaf still has 97% of their terrain open, although they will scale back some lift operation during the midweek. The Loaf will host the East Coast Pond Skim Championships this Saturday April 20, this was postponed from two weekends ago when it was just too cold and wintry. Saddleback is open weekends through April - still sporting base depths of up to 52" of snow, and $29 lift tickets. Sunday River will wrap their season when they reopen this coming weekend, with $39 tickets Saturday April 20 and Free skiing on Sunday April 21 as their grand finale and thanks to their friends and fans.
In New Hampshire, Bretton Woods ended their ski season yesterday. Wildcat will reopen for skiing this Friday for the weekend, with pond skimming Saturday. As of last weekend, Wildcat still had 93% of their terrain ski-able, and they may offer skiing April 27-28 as well.
Vermont ski resorts still open include Killington, Sugarbush, and Jay Peak which is still at 100%. Stowe will ski through Sunday April 21. Mt Snow may reopen this weekend.
I never understand why so many skiers are so eager to ski one skinny snowmaking trail in November, but hang up their boards in sunny April when so many trails are still open with sweet soft snow. Well, it's up to you, but there is still great skiing, scenery, and goggle tanning up in the mountains.
Not every ski day can be “epic” by definition. But today in Zermatt Switzerland had all the criteria, starting with a delicious Swiss breakfast of fresh croissants, salmon, local cheese and muesli at the Hotel Alex before boarding the first train up the Gornergrat to 9,842’.
We had first tracks on fresh snow and fantastic early morning views of the awesome Matterhorn, while everyone else was still sleeping in Zermatt village. By 11, it was time to ski to lunch - in Italy (because we could)! A long tram ride up to the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise at 12,740’, and we were skiing over the boarder to Cervinia for more powder runs followed by an alfresco lunch of fresh pasta in the sun at Chalet Etoile.
With over 37,000 vertical feet of skiing in two countries on wide open powder bowls, perfectly prepared pistes and soft snowy chutes, we felt our après ski was well deserved today. And we just happen to be in the lively village of Zermatt for #ZermattUnplugged – a series of live concerts from noon til late night. Told you it was a great ski day. My only wish for tomorrow: more of the same, and that we not be woken by the thundering roar of an avalanche at 3am. Yes, there is that much snow in Switzerland this season!
Yeah, we said last week was the final ski chat of the season, but there was too much going on really to end things like that. So, we broke down which ski areas are open, which plan to close after this weekend, and which hope to keep skiing into....June?
They’re dwindling. Despite an above-average winter that helped blanket New England’s mountains to the delight of skiers and riders, reality has to smack in the face at some point. Over the last two weeks, local ski areas have been shutting down the lifts, pushing season passes for next season, and preparing for summer activities, all without the benefit of basking in the glorious aura of spring skiing, which has been close to non-existent thus far this March and April, with winter refusing to relinquish its grip in the north.
That appears to be changing, and just in time, as most area ski resorts, if they haven’t halted operations already, have announced closing dates for the 2012-13 season. We hate posting closing dates as much as the next skier, but the good news is that there is still plenty of time to get those final lift-served turns in this season. Here’s a roundup of who’s still open, when they plan to close, and what you might expect at the ticket window.
Sunday River – Open daily through April 14. Will re-open for one, final weekend April 20-21. $49 lift tickets, free skiing for all on April 21.
Sugarloaf - Until further notice
Saddleback – Open weekends in April
Bretton Woods - Open through April 15. $29 lift tickets the remainder of the season, $17.76 lift tickets on Patriot's Day, April 15. In addition, all who ski or ride on the final day of the season will receive a voucher good for a one-day lift ticket this fall prior to Christmas.
Cannon – Open through April 14. Two-for-$70 spring pricing in effect.
Loon – Open through April 14. $49 lift tickets. South Peak closed for
Wildcat – Open through April 14, re-opening April 19-21, with a decision on the following weekend to be made at that time. $40 lift tickets.
Mount Sunapee – Open through April 14. $49 lift tickets.
Waterville Valley – Open through April 14. $43 lift tickets.
Jay Peak – Until further notice
Stowe – Open through April 21. $64 lift tickets.
Sugarbush – Lincoln Peak aiming for its final spring fling weekend, May 4-5.
Killington – Open through May 5, with the possibility of opening weekends only beginning May 11, conditions pending.
Burke – Closed for the season, but may re-open April 13-14. Update: Now officially closed for the season.
Mad River Glen – Closed for the season, but will make the call on Wednesday if it will re-open for April 13-14. Update:Now officially closed for the season.
Mount Snow – Open through April 14. $45 lift tickets
Smuggler’s Notch – Open through April 14.
Okemo – Open through April 21. $65 lift tickets. Update: Due to a lack of business, Okemo has decided not to extend its season until April 21, and will close on April 14.
Stratton – Open through April 14.
Greg and I have skied some kick butt terrain out west (Snowbird, Jackson Hole and Big Sky come to mind), Delirium Dive at Sunshine in Banff Canada, and even Europe. Well, Verbier in Switzerland just moved in to the top slot for steepness, vastness, and sheer craziness.
Our first ride to the top of Mont Gele, we broke above the clouds for incredible views of the Swiss and French Alps. Perched on this jagged 9,917’ peak, we quickly recognized there were no groomed runs, no marked trails, just steep cliffs and NFT (no fall terrain) down 3,000’ vertical.
The only thing that capped that first descent was our second on Mont Fort, at 10,994’, with amazing vistas of Mont Blanc and The Matterhorn, and more sick steep terrain. We skied a crazy cat walk, clinging to a narrow 18” goat path above a cliff, to a delightful mountain Chalet de Glacier Tortin– the Swiss fondue was to die for, almost literally. Verbier is very cool, very challenging and vast - part of Les 4 Vallées with 410 kilometers of pistes (trails) plus more crazy off-piste terrain than you could ski in a winter. Wish I could stay longer, but tomorrow – Saas Fee!
Mid-winter snow conditions and spring ski events make this a great weekend to ski. Sunday River’s Parrot Head takes place this weekend, with Pond Skimming on Sunday. Sugarloaf is set to host the East Coast Pond Skimming Championships today. Killington’s Bear Mountain Mogul Challenge is on, and Okemo’s Slush Cup takes place today at Jackson Gore. BodeFest is happening at Cannon with Bode Miller himself. Bretton Woods lift tickets are $29 today and for the rest of the ski season.
That’s just a sampling of the ski fun going on around New England. So get out there for some spring skiing and sunshine while you can - sure beats doing your taxes!
Sunscreen and sunglasses go together like spring skiing and Sugarloaf's Reggae Fest. The biggest on snow music event in Maine, and New England for that matter, turns 25 this year. For a quarter of a century, this northern ski resort has transformed into Jamaica North, with island bands playing live music all day and night, Rastafarian dress, sunshine, and soft snow. It's a rite of spring that rocks for skiers. The lifts spin, the bands and beer flow, folks dressed in tie dye and dreadlocks dance, and there is a "one world" vibe at this one mother of a mountain.
Reggae Fest predates social media, facebook, and instagram. Back in 1992, a few 100 people listened to a band on a deck. Now the mountain music festival draws over 10,000 people, and eight big-name bands that play day and night, April 11-14.
To commemorate this silver anniversary, Sugarloaf is giving a free trip to Reggae Fest to one winning photo in their #RoadtoReggae promotion. In this social media show down, Sugarloaf will award one Reggae Fest getaway for four people including a two-day ski and stay package with lift tickets and concert tickets.
Want to go to Regga Fest free with your three bffs? Enter the #RoadtoReggae giveaway by posting a photo to Instagram featuring the Sugarloaf logo, using the #RoadtoReggae hashtag.
Every Sugarloaf photo posted to Instagram that is tagged with the #RoadtoReggae will be on display in the Sugarloaf Blue Room, so you can view all of the entries throughout the contest, which ends on April 6. The winning photo, selected at random, will be announced April 8, you must be 21 to enter.
Over the years Reggae Fest conditions have ranged from wall to wall snow coverage and snowfields (that's looking good for this year) to skinny ribbons of remaining snow, and weather has been everything from snow to rain to glorious sunshine at the Loaf. You never know what you are going to get, but many folks go for the music show, not the snow, leaving the slopes fresh for early risers. Base depths are big this season, so the skiing should be awesome - "jah man." And what better après ski than the Sugarloaf beach with live reggae bands playing? Snap a good pic of the classic Loaf logo and you could be skiing, staying and dancing for free with your three buddies at Sugarloaf's 25th Reggae Fest.
It was our final skiing and riding chat of the season Thursday morning, and we all had a good old cry that ski season is coming to an end. Even if it really isn't. Not by a longshot, really.
What a nice surprise to arrive in Switzerland and find they are having an amazing snow year too. Mid February ski conditions in April after a second great snow year in a row, according to our hotelier Martin Müller, at The Parkhotel Bellevue in the delightful Swiss village of Adelboden. Greg had checked the webcams and snow reports for Adelboden Ski Area prior to our trip, there was little news of so much snow or intel about their extraordinary conditions.
Never heard of Adelboden? Well, Bode Miller won a World Cup here in 2002 and they still love him (and Americans skiers) here.
On our first day in Switzerland, we skied midwinter snow, deep coverage at Adelboden - Lenk, with the bonus of April sunshine at 7,217’. We lunched outside at the slopeside chalet Chumi Hutte, enjoying Swiss raclette and beer, between our 27 soft snowy runs above tree line with spectacular Alps surrounding us.
Adelboden is in the heart of the Bernese Oberland Alps, a two hour train ride from Zurich. Adelboden Lenk is vast, one of the largest in Switzerland, with over 210 km of prepared slopes (that’s groomed to Europeans) served by 72 modern cable cars and lifts, plus limitless off piste stretching across several towns in five separate ski areas. Just thought you’d want to know – the Swiss Alps have plenty of snow!
Adelboden Switzerland Photo by Greg Burke, above - our hotel room deck at Parkhotel Bellevue
I travel a bunch - it's the nature of the beast as a ski journalist. I am constantly appalled at how much luggage people haul to the airport, pay excess fees for, and return home having never worn half of.
I am a self proclaimed packing ninja. Stealth, and ready to fly at a moment's notice. Admittedly, it's hard to pack "light" as a skier or snowboarder, but here is my packing plan for a weekend, a week out west, or even two weeks in the Swiss Alps. Everything fits in my ski boot duffle bag with two outside pockets for boots and a center compartment, it weighs about 30 lbs., well under the excess fees the airline tend to soak skiers with.
Yes, I always bring my own ski boots, I even carry them on the plane if I plan to ski on arrival day. I wear my ski jacket too. Inside my ski boots, I stuff two pair of skis socks, goggles, and my hot stick plug in boot dryer (can't leave home without them because warm, dry feet are happy feet).
For clothing, I wear a lot of black, it's very European and trendy ...lol. No, actually it just travels well, coordinates easily, hides stains, and doesn't scream "I'm a tourist." I don't recommend jeans when traveling, they're bulky and not always up to dress code. Instead, I opt for black pants (or leggings for ladies) - they are lightweight, you can wear them from fancy to casual. Lay out your clothing, and plan your outfits, pack two shirts that coordinate well, a t-shirt in the event its warm and sunny, and pants (wear one with a versatile belt and bring a second max).
For the ladies (and metro men), a scarf or two can accessorize nicely - adding mileage to your outfits. I also bring a lycra or rayon skirt and tights - in case I get a fancy restaurant invite (a girl can dream and should always be prepared).
A swimsuit is essential, pj's are at your discretion but you certainly don't need your bulky bathrobe. I pack just a few pair of undergarments which can be hand washed in a sink. I swear by Tide disposable laundry packets for this, and for washing stinky ski socks at night so they are fresh and ready for the next ski morning.
If you plan well you can easily fit your lean, mean wardrobe within your ski bag - I separate things in zipper garment squares to stay organized (can you tell I'm a little OCD?). Your toiletries should be travel size - this should go without saying, but have you seen TSA's confiscated box? Besides, who need 10 ounces of shampoo - so why carry it and risk it blowing up at elevation?!
You still have plenty of room in your ski bag for your base layers, ski pants, a shell or fleece for layering, hat/helmet, as follows:
Ski or Snowboard Boots (in a separate compartment)
Ski Pants for colder days, Wind Pants for the warmer days
Ski Jacket for wintry conditions, Windbreaker/Shell for warmer weather
Two Pair of Ski Socks (stuff these in your ski boots)
Base Layer/Long Underwear
Goggles and Sunglasses in their protective cases and tucked inside a hat
Gloves/Mittens /Disposable Hand Warmer Packets
Pocket size sunscreen and lip balm
I love my ski boot bag with wheels, its pricier but a real back saver - reserving my strength for the slopes. Consider renting skis if you are flying.
When you get home from your ski adventure, unpack and launder your ski stuff immediately so it's clean, dry and ready for the next trip...don't let it linger or fester or you will be sorry later. Just like, "No friends on a powder day," I say no excuse for procrastination. Pack and go ski.
If the Easter bunny is a skier (he's been spotted him on the slopes before), 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 this season.
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. Here are a few festivities and highlights:
Wachusett hosts pond-skimming Saturday and Sunrise Service plus an egg hunt on EasterSunday. If you dress like a bunny or wear an Easter bonnet on Sunday, your Wachusett lift ticket is half price.
Bretton Woods holds their 26th annual Beach Party on Saturday with Slush Pool skimming, if you wear beach attire you get a ticket for only $25. Starting Monday April 1, ski Bretton Woods any day for just $29 - no fooling.
Loon Mountain hosts an Easter Sunrise Service via the gondola, followed by an egg hunt on Lower Bear Claw. Saturday is Spring Sanity at Loon, inspired by the 1997 film - so break out your big hair and hit the bumps.
Gunstock hosts Easter Sunday funday with an egg hunt and Gunny bear will be handing out candy. Sunapee host an Easter Cares and Shares special - bring 5 non-perishable food items and get a $35 lift ticket on Sunday.
Saddleback has Pond Skimming Saturday, and Sunday there will be an on mountain Easter Service plus an Egg Hunt - hint: there is one Golden Egg with a season pass. Sugarloaf and Sunday River both celebrate Easter with sunrise services and egg hunts for the kids. The Easter bunny will make an appearance at both resorts, along with his friends Amos and Blueberry at the Loaf and Eddy and Betty the Yetis at the River.
Stowe's Sunday Sunrise Service will mark their 59th annual - impressive, this weekend at Stowe is also the historic Sugar Slalom.
Easter skiing is going to be the best in years, and maybe for years to come (Easter is April 20 in 2014). And this weekend marks your last chance to ski in March this year, which has been amazing! Of course, if you can play hooky on Monday - there are some unbelievable April fool's day deals too, no foolin!
See you on the slopes.
Photos by Greg Burke
Four ways to save on April Fool’s Day…
Ski or ride at Waterville Valley Monday for just $1. No gimmicks. Lift tickets will be only $1 for the day. I’ve skied this promotion before, and while it can indeed get crowded, for obvious reasons, at no point was the mountain ever overwhelmed. As good a deal as you can get.
Wildcat and Attitash will both have $9 lift tickets on April Fool’s Day. In the past, when Wildcat had offered the $9 promotion on certain Fridays, the parking lot would be overflowed, but now with the addition of Attitash, and the ability to use your ticket at both mountains, it should be a bit more manageable. I skied at the Pinkham Notch mountain last weekend, and it’s in great shape.
Head to Mad River Glen for the day, act like a fool at the ticket window, and you’ll ski 2-for-1 (only $24.50 each).
April 1 also marks the beginning of spring pricing at Cannon Mountain, where skiers and riders can purchase lift tickets, two-for-$70 the remainder of the season.
I love this tidbit from Heather Burke - at this time last year, there were fewer than a dozen ski areas still open for the season.
That is indeed not the case this year, with dozens of mountains still spinning the lifts after yet another bounty of snow last week. So, as long as we're still skiing, we'll keep talking skiing.
The 80's were a totally rad decade, except if you were a downhill skier who liked to catch air. That was the era when ski areas mowed down handmade 4' jumps, forbid so-called freestyle air, and were super skeptical of snowboarders and their newfangled tricks. My brother almost lost his pass for launching off picnic tables and hand packing jumps. What a twist that today ski resorts are building 50' jumps, adding metal boxes and rails to terrain parks, open to anyone to huck themselves off.
This Friday and Saturday, Sunday River hosts the 5th Annual Dumont Cup - your chance to see the best free skiers in the country fly off 75 foot jumps and slide metal shooter cannons on an unbelievable slopestyle course on Rocking Chair.
The Dumont Cup is a Pro Am featuring Simon Dumont, Gus Kenworthy, Alex Schlopy Jossi Wells, PK Hunder, Joss Christiansen, Matt Walker, Nick Goepper, Charles and Vincent Gagnier, JF Houle, Colby James West, Alex Beaulieu-Marchand, LJ Strenio and Noah Morrison. If you don't recognize these names, and you are still wearing rear entry boots, you must see this ski event and witness how far the sport has rocketed.
The Dumont Cup is Simon Dumont's vision and event - where he brings his pro ski buddies to his home resort, and invites amateurs to compete for a top spot in the finals with the best. Past winners Gus Kenworthy, Alex Schlopy and Nick Goepper's careers launched following their podiums here. Simon, now 26, grew up skiing Sunday River and has become one of the most decorated free skiers in the world, his most recent medal - a bronze at this year's X Games at Aspen.
The March 29 -30 Dumont Cup is like the Winter X Games of the East for free skiing, and your opportunity to witness risky, jaw dropping tricks, triple corks and quad twisty flips at Sunday River - as skiers amped on Red Bull compete for $20,000 in cash, bragging rights and a burgeoning ski career. It's still surprising to me and my brother, children of the 80's, that this kind of big air is allowed, never mind encouraged! Go see for yourself. Dumont Cup at Sunday River Photos by Greg Burke, above Simon & 2011 winner Nick Goepper
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.