MONTPELIER, Vermont — Amongst the diversity of improvements at Vermont’s Alpine resorts, a certain theme rings clear. These resorts, just like Snowflake Bentley would say of each snowflake, are all unique. Each ski area also listens to its patrons and is building the best possible experience for our extended family of snowsports enthusiasts to further cultivate the love of the sport.
When the lifts start turning for the 2008-09 season, Mount Snow will have the most new-technology fan guns in all of North America. After adding 150 new guns this past summer, most of its major trails will be covered by these energy efficient machines. Count on quality snow for Mount Snow’s early opening and late closing dates.
Into terrain parks? The entire Carinthia mountain face will be dedicated to freestyle this year. With 95 acres of jumps, rails and halfpipes, a revamped base lodge, a skateboard ramp, a hikeable park and indoor lounge area, Carinthia is designed to suit everyone’s (free)style. Mount Snow has also been chosen as the only East Coast stop of the AST Winter Dew Tour. The world’s top slopestyle and superpipe competitors will converge on Carinthia January 8 ??вЂњ 11, 2009.
Gladed trails are at the top of the list this season at Smugglers’ Notch. Added to the 22-and-growing percent of terrain amidst the trees at the resort, Madonna Mountain now has Attitude. To get to this trail, skiers and riders jump into the balsam firs on Lower Drifter just before the mid-station on skier’s left. After pumping their legs through the hardwoods, skiers and riders come out of this steep pitch on Lower Rum Runner on Sterling Mountain. Most of Smuggs other glades have received a thorough trimming.
The Hibernator Trail on Morse Highlands now offers beginners a direct line top to bottom. Smuggs progression terrain parks Log Jam, Birch Run and The Zone will be freshly populated with jumps, banks, rails and fun boxes for refining skills and simply having fun.
The addition of a new slopeside luxury hotel and spa, a new base area, an inter-mountain transfer gondola, new trails, a new beginner area, two new high-speed detachable quads, fully-automated snowmaking and exclusive mountainside residences has reinforced Stowe Mountain Resort’s position as one of the East’s premier ski and four-season mountain resorts.
No single project will touch more visitors in Stowe this winter than the new Spruce Base Camp, Stowe Mountain Resort’s central source for skier and snowboarder services. The building includes restaurants, a bar, indoor and outdoor fireplaces, rental shops, retail, tickets, event space and public lounge areas that blend the unique dynamics of Stowe’s mountains with the comfort of a state-of??вЂњthe-art luxury base lodge. The beautifully designed building is adjacent to the new ‘Over Easy’ transfer gondola, providing convenient access to Spruce Peak and Mount Mansfield’s slopes. For more information visit www.stowe.com/press_room.
For intermediates and experts, Stratton shines with its six new glades and trails in the Sunbowl. Old favorite trails and terrain will be enhanced with a new Prinoth Sherpa Winch Cat for steep pitches. A Prinoth BR350 terrain park cat that boasts more horsepower and range of motion will build innovative rails and features at the Tyrolienne Slopestyle course for freestylers to enjoy, especially the Stratton Saturday night terrain park events. The competitions are under the lights and open to all.
In progressive line with the green snow trend of Vermont’s resorts, Stratton is investing a half million dollars in energy efficiency programs including snowmaking. Last year, Stratton invested $4 million, increasing snowmaking coverage to 95 percent.
The largest ski and snowboard resort in eastern North America, Killington celebrates its 50th birthday on Dec. 13, 2008 with more than $8.4 million in on-mountain improvements, including the new Skye Peak Express, ski trails, efficiency upgrades to one of the world’s most extensive snowmaking system and expanded environmental programs.
In addition to the new Skye Peak Express and new trails, Killington debuts The Burton Stash, an all natural terrain park with 34 features located off the shoulder of Skye Peak, accessible by the Skye Peak Express. Killington’s Stash is one of only four that exist worldwide and the only one on the East Coast. Plus, a new 500-foot Magic Carpet at Snowshed improves the uphill learning experience for beginner skiers and riders in the Killington Ski and Snowboard School and Burton Learn to Ride Programs. A new beginner and more advanced trail off Skye Peak also debut for the 08/09 season.
Pico Mountain enters its 71st season as one of New England’s classic family ski areas featuring a unique ambiance and heritage rooted in ski racing, family recreation and the birth of skiing in North America.
Recent upgrades at Pico Mountain include major snowmaking infrastructure replacement to increase operational efficiency, a fresh look throughout the base area with numerous improvement projects from remodeled restrooms to new paint for lifts and lift terminals and a new deck outside the base lodge. The Pico Sports Center also features new strength and aerobic equipment and remodeled locker rooms.
‘So your ski area just had one of the best winters in memory, there’s a bit more cash in the till than normal so where do you put your money?’ Well if you’re Mad River Glen, the iconoclastic, skier-owned mountain you’re going to renovate the bathrooms. “I guess no one will ever accuse us of spending like drunken sailors,” quips Mad River Glen’s President Jamey Wimble.
Since the inception of the Co-op in 1995, Mad River Glen has invested nearly $4 million in capital improvements. Unlike other ski areas, Mad River’s goal is to maintain and preserve the experience rather than overhaul or upgrade it. Both the skier-owners and the management understand that skiers come to Mad River for the unique combination of legendary terrain, sense of community, low skier density and intimate atmosphere.
Magic Mountain continues to improve the snowmaking operations with increased efficiency through overhauled snowmaking lines and increased capacity. Magic also continues to improve glade skiing options for the 08-09 season through increased thinning of off trail areas mountain wide. Adventurous skiers can follow the numerous tracks leading into the woods to find the best tree skiing in Southern Vermont.
With much local anticipation and years of waiting, Magic Mountain will be serving a menu of apr??s-ski food in Goniff’s Den Bar. Skiers and riders can again replenish themselves after a day on the slopes with a multitude of tasty offerings.
The Magic Card isn’t new – -but the deals are always worth talking about. It offers discounts for skiers and riders all season long for only $39.00. The Magic card gives holders $25.00 midweek lift tickets and $10 off weekends and holidays all season long.
A half million dollar expansion to Sugarbush’s two-year old Gate House lodge means more room for fun. At the lodge’s Castlerock Pub, pub-goers can toast to a 1,200 square-foot addition to increase its already delectable menu offerings. Atop the addition, a slope-side deck will have a BBQ and fire pit. Sugarbush will also be building an addition onto the top floor of the Gate House lodge for more food-court seating and conference space. Construction will begin in September and the additions will be open by Christmas week.
Hungry? Hop aboard a Pisten Bully cat cab for a ride up to Allyn’s Lodge at Lincoln Peak for specialty dinners and full-moon skiing and snowshoeing. Cat skiing? In New England? With the purchase a new Pisten Bully cat cab, Sugarbush will be the only resort in the East to have cat skiing. Traditionally, the resort closes its Mt. Ellen first in late March. When that happens, Sugarbush’s highest peak will become the domain of the 12-passenger cat.
Atira Group, responsible for building Cordillera in Edwards, CO and the Club at Crested Butte will deliver Sugarbush its new Village. Groundbreaking for Phase Two of the Lincoln Peak Village is slated to begin in the spring of ’09.
Ascutney Mountain Resort is pleased to announce that the resort received town approval for its master development plan for the base of the ski area. When construction is complete, Ascutney will have new slopeside real estate as well as an all new day lodge, ski school, ticket outlets, food and beverage and retail outlets and a new ski shop, rental and tuning facilities. Ascutney is building the first new single family home development in the area in many years and plan to begin offering these lots in the fall. Please visit www.ascutney.com for more details.
When it comes to ‘what’s new’ at Okemo Mountain Resort for this winter, art and innovation combine to address the challenges of creating a better resort experience ??вЂњ all with an eye toward efficiency and sustainability. Laser-guided superpipe cutting, first-in-the-East lift loading and grooming technologies, plus energy efficiencies in snowmaking and other operations ??В¦ these are just some of the innovations that comprise the art of Okemo.
Okemo saved the best for last – the final two trails of the Jackson Gore layout. One of these new double-black-diamonds will measure about 1,000-feet and the other will be about 2,600-feet long, with a vertical drop of 850 feet. These new trails add about eight acres to Okemo’s currently skiable 632 acres.
Snowmaking covers 96 percent of Okemo’s trails and 80 new snowmaking guns will be added this year. Okemo’s operational focus this winter will be on energy-efficient, early-season snowmaking. With the help of HKD’s economic solutions and innovative technology, Okemo will continue to offer an outstanding snow surface at reduced energy consumption.
Okemo’s grooming fleet is the first in the East to include the Prinoth BR500 grooming machine, affectionately referred to as “The Beast” by resort operations staff. The 500-horsepower dual turbocharged behemoth is eight feet wider and ten feet longer than the next largest model, the BR350. The Beast sports a 24-foot-wide tiller and a 20-foot-wide blade. Innovative grooming doesn’t stop at the Beast, either. Okemo VP of Operations Barry Tucker looks nothing like Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, but one thing the two have in common is laser technology. By affixing adjustable laser units with a vertical orientation to a stationary base at the bottom of the superpipe, and attaching a receptor device to the arm of the Zaug Pipe Monster, Okemo’s groomer operators can monitor superpipe shaping for better construction, upkeep and optimal vert. To infinity and beyond.
Okemo will also have mechanized loading and unloading carpets on one of its South Ridge fixed-grip quad chairs. The loading carpet is a rarity in North America. Okemo’s loading carpet will be the first in the East and the unloading carpet will be the first of its kind in the U.S. A conveyor belt will make loading and unloading easier and safer. It will reduce lift-line lengths, reduce ride time and improve overall lift capacity. For more information, please call 802-228-1600, or visit www.okemo.com.
‘It’s all about the snow and the equipment you use to enjoy it.’ That’s been the mantra at Bolton Valley since local ownership assumed control of one of Vermont’s favorite local mountains last season. This summer, Bolton Valley invested heavily in new snowmaking and grooming equipment, along with an entire new inventory of rental equipment and new resort amenities.
Bolton installed new snowmaking lines on the main mountain and will be installing new energy efficient snow guns and fan guns; just a little more help for Mother Nature, who already blankets the resort with more than 300 inches of snow. The new state-of-the-art Prinoth Bison snowcat/groomer will join the three groomers already in the Bolton Valley fleet.
An entirely new inventory of rental skis, boots and poles from Rossignol are available this season. The new ski equipment complements the latest Burton Snowboard equipment in the Bolton Valley-Burton Learn To Ride Center. Folks can get cozy in the resort’s new furniture and even the chefs will be sizzling with new cooking equipment in the main cafeteria.
Burke Mountain launched the Burke Mountain Music Series, a year-round commitment to hosting live entertainment. The majority of the live entertainment is in the newly renovated Tamarack Grill, which re-opened this summer with a new family-oriented menu that features greater diversity and expanded pub fare. A new stage, complete with a 24 channel sound board and state-of-the-art audio and lighting systems allow for optimal sight and sound. The Burke Mountain Music Series culminates with the annual Burke Mountain Music Festival in the fall.
For those who want to kick it up a notch, Burke Mountain features a new intermediate terrain park located on Lower Foxes Folly that offers modified terrain and a variety of features. Burke Mountain is also proud to be the latest Burton Learn To Ride Resort in Vermont.
Bromley is justifiably proud of its long reputation for top-quality ‘product,’ ??вЂњ extensive snowmaking and four-season trail grooming debuted in the late 1930’s ??вЂњ and Bromley aims to keep that reputation intact. Hence its $1 million investment in capital improvements for the 08/09 season, the bulk of which is going toward an arsenal of HKD sv10 tower snow guns. These guns will increase Bromley’s already impressive snowmaking capacity by an additional 30 percent and will allow for more manmade snow at moderate temperatures; that translates into more open early-season terrain and fast recovery after poor weather. Bromley will be throwing much more snow, so it’s no surprise that a new Prinoth BR350 groomer ??вЂњ the ultimate grooming and snow-moving system ??вЂњ will be added to the fleet.
Trapp Family Lodge gears up for an exciting 40th winter season by offering guests a magnificent mountain experience at America’s first cross-country ski center. Opened in the winter of 1968-69, it was the first time cross-country ski trails, instruction and equipment sales and rentals were offered at one location.
A number of special events are being planned throughout the season to celebrate the 40th anniversary including special cross-country ski clinics for both guests and locals, special deals on ski passes, festive parties at the Slayton Pasture Cabin and more.
The biggest Jay Peak news for this season will be the sale of mountain by MSSI to a group of local investors led by the Resort’s long time President and COO, Bill Stenger. Not much will change in the way of immediate plans ??вЂњ Jay Peak is working on the construction of a new 58-suite Hotel at the Tram base, which will also include updated facilities for skier/rider services ??вЂњ but other projects should get underway sooner than originally planned. Stay tuned for news on additional snowmaking, improved grooming, and updated lifts on Stateside. Jay Peak will also be moving forward with its plans to refurbish the existing Hotel Jay upon completion of Hotel One. Both projects are fully funded through EB5 investments.
While so much is new in Vermont’s ski industry, one really, really old event is surfacing. As a celebration of our history and our stunning surroundings, 2009 marks the 400th anniversary of Samuel de Champlain’s exploration of the lake that now bears his name.
The Lake Champlain Quadricentennial will be a year-long event that kicks off on Dec. 31, 2008 at First Night in Burlington. Events commemorating the 400th anniversary of Champlain’s visit will be held in Burlington, Vergennes, Isle La Motte, Jay, Randolph, Shelburne, St. Albans, South Hero and many other communities throughout the state in 2009.
The 400th anniversary memorializes an important historical moment: the first contact between European and Native American cultures in the Champlain Valley. 2009 is an opportunity to explore Vermont’s fascinating history, reexamine the events of 1609, and connect with the Green Mountain State’s scenic beauty and way of life. Events will range from musical performances, art exhibits, films, bike tours, culinary festivals, history tours, interactive activities, cultural demonstrations and much more. For more information, visit www.CelebrateChamplain.org.