AlpineZone Challenge 2011 – Tom Meyers of Wachusett Mountain

The AlpineZone Ski Area Challenge was designed to provide a method for our forum members to get official answers to skiing-related questions directly from a ski area representative. Tom Meyers  and Jeff Crowley of Wachusett Mountain in Princeton, Massachusetts, took the AlpineZone Ski Area Challenge and provided the following responses on 11/3/2011

Watatic Skier: Several questions on moguls and bumps across Wachusett:

  1. Are there any plans to offer more Moguls or better quality moguls at Wachusett? Whenever I’m there they are mostly Icy or shaped oddly. I liked that moguls were returned to the Hitchcock trail, but the trail is relatively flat.
  2. Also, what was the thought behind setting the bump formations on Tenth Mountain Trail? The bumps seem widely spaced with an odd pattern. Have you considered either letting the bumps form by not grooming or setting the bump formation for short turns down the fall line?
  3. More moguls doesn’t necessarily mean more on different trails, you could make most of the Tenth headwall moguls, for example, but groom a strip underneath the lift. Skiers would be more spread out on the bumps and cause less deterioration.
  4. Wa-Loaf asks: Any chance of hosting an amateur bump competition?

Tom Meyers: 

  1. Hello Watatic Skier and jack97- We have been making our own moguls for about 16 years now and we continue to try to improve all the time. We are always open to suggestions. Allow me to ask you, what is the ideal spacing for moguls? We intend to experiment with different methods for this season.
  2. We can allow the bumps to form on their own after a fresh snowfall, which in a year like last with all of the snow works better than those years when we are hit with rain and a quick freeze. Some of the best bumps we’ve had is after The Great Race in March we just let Smith Walton Bump up. Everyone seemed to like those.
  3. That is a tough one. I often hear folks say we should eliminate the bumps on 10th all together, they say that only a handful of folks are in them…that might be due to the comments you raised earlier. Feel free to stay in touch and we will do our best to make you happy. My email is
  4. Back in the day we had 70-80 competitors in Mogul Mania…the last few years we only had about 10 enter…We will revisit the idea. Start training just in case we do it again.

xlr8r: How often do you plan to actually run the Vickery triple? It seems as if it is barely open when I am there. Last winter there were multiple nights when both Polar and Minuteman had very long lines and the Vickery chair was not open at all, particularly during Christmas vacation and Saturday nights in January. I appreciate being able to use Vickery when Polar and Minuteman lines get too long. The chair and piece of cake trail seem like a complete waste because of this. Along with that, any plans to turn the Vickery liftline into an actual marked trail?

Tom Meyers: We will keep a closer eye on that one, making sure it runs when the lines get long. The lift line was trimmed this summer, for safety reasons. Thanks.

Wa-Loaf: As someone who does night league racing I would appreciate (and likely buy) VIP parking if it was offered in the evenings. Any chance you can offer that?

Tom Meyers: We have not had a strong demand for VIP parking in the evening, however, we will discuss that option with our Parking lot crew and see if it is possible in the future.

Wa-Loaf: Can you leave 10th or Smith ungroomed when it’s storming out? Let the powder be, let it get chopped up, let the bumps form and I’ll be there. Nothing like heading out to catch a storm and seeing the groomers come out to pound the fresh snow in. They can groom the next morning. There’s no point in bragging that you got a foot of fresh snow if you are just going to groom it in right away.

Tom Meyers: Typically you CAN find powder on powder days. We do pride ourselves on our 2x-day grooming, however, any snow that accumulates after the night grooming would be there in the morning for fresh tracks.

Speden: Will you make any changes in the beginner area to leverage the new quad lift you’re installing? That area is way underutilized, so will you add jumps or do any re-grading to make the terrain more interesting, and pull some traffic off the overcrowded Minuteman express? Possible ideas: an inground shallow half pipe, a banked slalom run, dig out some area for a short section with more pitch, some giant wide spaced bumps, etc.

Along with infrastructure changes, what can Wachusett do to decrease the long lines at the Minuteman and Polar Express? Is there any hope of adding new terrain or is everything hopelessly locked in by protected old growth forests? Can the mountain buy up and protect some other old growth area elsewhere in the state and pitch it as an offset to cutting some new trails at Wachusett?

Tom Meyers: Those are all excellent ideas and we will look into them. We are confident the new lift on the beginner terrain will help attract some skiers and riders from the Minuteman area.

We appreciate your concerns. We will pass your comments on to the Department of Conservation & Recreation and encourage you to contact them, as well.

Speden: Can you give some technical details on the new Monadnock Easy-Rider Express? Will it be fixed grip or detached? Is there a loading carpet? Any funky stuff like automatically lowering restraining bars? Will it be ready for opening day? Is it fully new or are you re-using the old towers?

Tom Meyers: We are primarily using the existing towers to accommodate the new lift. It will be a high speed, detachable quad lift similar to the Polar Express and Minuteman Quad. The expected opening will be mid-December.

Speden: Any thoughts of setting up a season pass arrangement with Boyne or other mountains so that passholders could get a combined Wachusett / Boyne pass? The thinking is that lots of Boston skiers like to ski Wachusett for a close to home workout and then hit up Loon / Sunday River / Sugarloaf on the weekends. Could be a good synergy for the two organizations for revenue without really adding much traffic.

Tom Meyers: We will certainly look into it.

Speden: Could you talk a little bit about the demo center expansion. What type of demo skis will you be adding and how will you speed up in-out access? I was frustrated last season that they would only allow three demo skis per session and would rather see a time limit than a ski limit. Will the online reservation system be overhauled? I found it difficult last year to see online exactly what skis you had in the demo shop. But it’s a good demo shop and I hope you will make it number one in Massachusetts for demos.

From Mike Vlass, Manager Mtnside Ski & Ride shop; For 2011 we will be loading up the Mountainside demo center with 110 pair of new 2011-2012 skis, representing more than 25 models for men, and 16 models for women, Including intermediate, advanced, expert, racing, as well as a range of moderate to fully rockered skis. In addition we have added two models of high performance boots, one from Atomic and the new three buckle “Fire Arrow” from Nordica. Boot technology has been enjoying significant changes and we wanted to allow our clients the opportunity to explore what is new in the boot world. We also offer 12 new models of snowboards from five manufacturers, snow shoes, and tele skis. Nowhere in Massachusetts or southern New England can you find this type of demo inventory.

From the facilities side of things, we’ve added a new modular racking system that will speed things up, allowing easier and faster access to all the models. It will replace a racking system that was durable, it was over 20 years old, but far less efficient. Our “put-thru” times should be shorter, helping you find more time on snow.

In regard to the limit of three skis per session, we put that policy in place to help the guide the guests through the demo process, in the course of a 9:00-4:00 session day session, and taking time for lunch, a morning coffee, a bathroom break or two, and the few minutes it take to adjust each new pair, we’d assume that you could fit in 5-6 runs per ski , in an very focused demo day. If you choose to try 4 pair in the same time frame now we’re down to 4 runs per ski model, and with five skis, you’re down to three runs. We think the 5 to 6 run test period is optimal for really being able to put each skis thru its paces on all type of turns, varying speeds, and snow conditions, before making your decision to purchase. If a customer wanted to push it and work with a short time frame we could certainly accommodate. It’s of course hard on the weekends , with slightly longer wait time as opposed to skiing on to every lift as you could experience on many week days, but if you want to maximize your test time, talk to us and we can make it work.

Our online reservation system was new last season, and we struggled a bit with it, and this season the one significant change is a technical one, but should go a long way to making the reservation be more accurate. Last season the day to day administration was the responsibility of the web developers, and if a ski was out of service or on an extended demo, it was not accurately depicted as such. This season, we at the shop have direct control of the on-line inventory day to day and updates will happen with much more immediacy.

Thanks for your interest, got more suggestions, give us a call , talk to Mike V, your input is important to us.
Office 978-464-2300 ext. 3502 Store 978-464-2626

MassBMX: Can you speak to the policies regarding speeding and what is considered reckless skiing? It seems if you go any faster than a crawl past [the ski patrol] they blow the whistle and threaten to pull your pass. I can see it in certain crowded areas of the mountain, but I have had it happen in the upper portions of Smith and 10th multiple times.

Tom Meyers: Safety of all our skiers and snowboarders is our primary concern. Our patrol and rangers monitor this closely and want to make sure to provide as safe an environment for everyone as possible.

Makimono: Can you speak to the terrain park access – the corral, subway turnstile, magnetic card setup that went into effect halfway through the year in my opinion was poor. The chute was always narrow and icy and a pain to navigate on a single ski or board, [and once ]the turnstile did not work for me, (could have been a defective card, but every single time I had to bump into it getting that video game “”life over”" sound until one of the guys came out to manually release the gate). Have you had any other feedback about this system or will you introduce any changes to it?

Tom Meyers: We instituted the Park Pass program a few years ago to help make sure skiers and riders using the park were aware of the safety precautions required to use the park properly. We tested the gate this past winter to help maximize that our park staff could be better utilized in helping to maintain the park features rather than check passes at the entrance. We were aware that there were some difficulties with the gate system last winter. The gate system will be in place again this winter and we anticipate that it will function better. You will be able to redeem your park pass from last year for a new one this year for only $5.

To view forum comments on this Challenge and the Challenge Results, please visit the following page: