WARREN, Vermont — Thirty years ago, freestyle skiing meant moguls, ballet, trees, and big mountain skiing. The term has become skewed of late, referring mostly to terrain parks. This season, Sugarbush Resort in Warren, Vermont informs mogulskiing.net that they are reviving the old definition of freestyle skiing at its Mt. Ellen area. The 2600′ vertical mountain (at 4083′ elevation, third highest in Vermont) will offer mogul terrain for all abilities, and will encourage skiers to learn and appreciate all of the natural aspects of skiing.
Sugarbush plans to be at the forefront of the revitalization of freestyle skiing at Mt. Ellen. Embracing a primary goal of creating an appreciation for and understanding of mogul skiing, tree skiing, powder skiing, and mountain adventure, Sugarbush hopes not only to capture the existing market for such an offering, but also to inspire all skiers to learn and enjoy these integral parts of the skiing world.
Spearheading this project is Mt. Ellen VP & General Manager, Dan Torsell (left). Torsell has been a ski industry fixture for more than thirty years, and has been with Sugarbush since 2005. His passion for freestyle skiing (the old definition, of course) began in the late ’70s, and he has nurtured it through his career.
“I’m really excited because I’ve always been a proponent of mogul and freestyle skiing,” Torsell tells mogulskiing.net. “I’m excited because we have decided upon a direction for the mountain; we’re giving it an identity. We’re making it a home for mogul skiers. I want it to be known by mogul skiers as the place they want to go.”
To see him ski a zipperline on Cliffs or Tumbler, or execute a tip-drag 360 on Straight Shot, one would never suspect he turns 52 in March. He is bringing his freestyle passion to the forefront at Mt. Ellen this season by creating an operational plan and programming that will support, promote, and teach mogul skiing, and all of the natural facets of skiing.
Part of the operational plan includes offering mogul terrain for all ability levels. Most ski areas offer some mogul terrain, but often it is only on the steepest and most difficult trails.
“We want to provide a mogul skiing experience for everyone, from novice to expert, because I think once you get caught up in it, it’s something you’ll never want to get out of. Many people are afraid or intimidated and never have the opportunity to experience it,” Torsell muses. “We want everyone to enjoy the thrill of skiing moguls with the hope that eventually they will feel confident and enjoy skiing the more difficult terrain.”
According to Torsell, skiers can expect to find moguls on novice, intermediate, and advanced terrain. Some will form naturally, and others may be helped along by patrollers, instructors, and local mogul skiers “skiing in” good lines. On tree skiing, Torsell becomes somewhat sentimental.
“There’s a sense of serenity,” he suggests. “It’s like you’re in the temple of the ski world. It takes you out of the hubbub of the mainstream resort environment and puts you one on one with the essence of the alpine experience.” Mt. Ellen offers six marked and maintained tree skiing areas. As a parting thought Torsell says, “I invite everybody to come and try it. As the Sugarbush slogan suggests, we want to give all skiers the chance to ‘Be Better Here.'”
Mt. Ellen at Sugarbush is located in Fayston, Vermont, 45 miles from Burlington International Airport, and is 3 miles from the Sugarbush Lincoln Peak resort area. Mt. Ellen is scheduled to open for the 2008/09 ski season on December 19th. Visit www.mogulskiing.net/sugarbush.html for our mogulskiing.net review of, and information about Sugarbush. Visit www.sugarbush.com for official information on the resort and the Mad River Valley, Vermont.