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The Buzz: Ski Area News
hosted by Rick Bolger • with correspondents throughout the world
1 November 2012 -- Please be advised that SkierNet.com has been purchased by an exciting new skiing web publisher and we expect the new SkierNet to quickly become one of the top sites in the sport! As for me, this news column and the "old school" ski area reviews will not directly be part of the new site; we're moving this "blog" to a new site during the next few days...Gondyline.com. Thank you for your support over the years. I hope you'll follow us to Gondyline.com, and "stay tuned" to SkierNet.com for a whole new source of information!
-- Rick Bolger
29 October 2012 -- Hurricane Sandy bears down on the east...please be advised that indeed, it appears that SkierNet.com content will be moving to a new website which has yet to be determined. Because of the storm, this transfer may be quite haphazard. So in the meantime, please bookmark this web page and when you can no longer find SkierNet, there will be a live link on that page. Probably will go live this weekend...meanwhile Ted Ligety showed that he is once again the top dog in GS winning the season opener in Soelden by 2.75 seconds over Italian Manny Moelgg. Reigning overall champ Marcel Hirscher of Austria was third...Slovenia's Tina Maze took the womens competition, beating Austrians Katrin Zettel and Stefanie Koehl respectively. The third place was Koehl's first World Cup podium...West Virginia's Snowshoe, Timberline, Canaan Valley etc. are looking for massive snow, currently projected by the NOAA on the heels of Hurricane Sandy.
24 October 2012 -- World Cup news has word that Swiss star Beat Feuz is "doubtful" for the season opener GS in Soelden this weekend. Feuz, who went neck-and-neck with champ Marcel Hirscher for the overall last season, had knee surgery during the off-season and is apparently not yet 100%...Winter Park is running a lifetime pass giveaway on Facebook; "friend" WP and fill out some sort of form between now and Jan 10 and you're eligible. Talk about building a database! And really, when you think about it, this isn't costing them a nickel...season is underway finally in Europe; Ruka Ski Resort in Finland spun the lifts yesterday. Ruka generally takes these first-to-open honors...snow in Tahoe; Heavenly got about a foot to a foot-and-a-half, slightly more at Kirkwood and up to two feet at Northstar. Heavenly & Northstar are set to go November 16, while Kirkweed will open the 21st. Tahoe skiers won't have to wait that long, however, as Squaw Valley is taking advantage of the storm and plans to spin the lifts tomorrow. If they do, it will be the first time in years that someone has beaten Boreal to the punch for Tahoe bragging rights. Boreal is said to be opening on Friday, but I wouldn't be surprised if they gin something together this afternoon...across the lake, the US Forest Service is planning to implement a prescribed burn right across the street from Mt. Rose over the next couple days, so don't be alarmed if you happen to see that...up in Canada, Nakiska is gearing up to open this weekend...Ski Swap this Saturday at New York's small but mighty West Mountain near Glens Falls, always a great event...and finally, more World Cup news, this from a reporter in Australia of all places, supposedly German Ace Maria Hoefl-Riesch says the FIS calendar is "madness" with 37 World Cup events and the world championships on the schedule....alright, aside from that, just want to point out that Maria is one of the all-time greats, it's just her misfortune to be skiing at the same time as Lindsey Vonn.
22 October 2012 -- Great news from Colorado's Front Range; Loveland opens tomorrow, joining A-Basin on the other side of the hill. Tix will be $49...and in Oregon we're glad that Timberline reopened for the season this past weekend. We say "reopened" because they don't usually close until late August. For now just open Fri/Sat/Sun...there is a rumor that Vermont's Sugarbush is looking to sponsor a free ski slope in Queens NY this winter, slated to be a learn-to-ski operation in Astoria Park with snowmaking equipment and some temporary buildings to outfit young skiers. If it happens it would mark the first skiing on Long Island since the 1980s. Long Island/Queens once had as many as five ski operations. If it's true, kudos to Sugarbush...more snowmaking tests happening in the east; word has it that New Jersey's sprawling Mountain Creek tested last night...more hulabaloo from that proposed Cherry Peak Ski Resort near Logan, UT, turns out the enviro watchdog group that got all up in arms about tree cutting neglected to mention that said tree cutting was done on private property. Now I'm all for good environmental stewardship, but -- except for unusual circumstances -- landowners can cut trees on their own property, dammit! Turns out the whole resort is planned for private property, it just happens to be wedged between some watershed and wilderness areas. Should've done my homework on this. Private property? Boom! Buzz! Build away! Wonder if the enviro guys ever thought about the animals that suffered when their houses were built...more lawsuits at Pennsy's Elk Mountain. The Village of Four Seasons, which sued Elk last year when their private access gate was closed, now claims Elk built a sewer line on their property, is asking that the line be removed....in Tahoe news, Sugar Bowl just signed an agreement to operate the Royal Gorge XC Resort. The two were already interconnected; the agreement should improve snow and grooming conditions at Royal Gorge, as well as provide some joint-skiing opportunities for passholders...Squaw Valley is replacing the old High Camp lift with a high-speed six pack, also removing the Links double and putting in a triple that will be realigned to work better with the Solitude and Silverado lifts...and yes it appears that SkierNet.com content will be moving to a new website; we'll keep you posted.
18 October 2012 -- Well I'm taking some heat for not reporting that New England's early-to-open Mutt & Jeff team was back at it this past weekend, with massive Killington opening the Rime trail to passholders only, and tiny Woodbury Connecticut managed to open with a half-acre of mush on Saturday. Neither one is open now. These are really publicity stunts more than anything else, but hey, that's fine. Woodbury was a thorn in Killington's side years ago, but it all slowed down for a while when K-Mart was in financial straits and stopped going for early opening. Since the renaissance at K-Mart after being purchased by PCMR, they're back at it, and Woodbury is right there with them. It's a throwback to yesteryear, and gosh it makes me hopeful for a good season...Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum is celebrating its 10th anniversary. The museum is located right smack in the middle of Stowe -- the town, not the resort....Bitterroot National Forest is working with Lost Trail Ski Area on the Idaho/Montana border to cut dead and dying trees in an effort to slow the spread of mountain pine beetles...sorry to report this, but it probably makes sense: Hurricane Ridge will only be open weekends this season. The club-operated ski hill is located way up on (you guessed it) Hurricane Ridge, which is located in Olympic National Park. Last season they only averaged 38 cars on weekdays, so the National Park Service said it wasn't worth the expense and would cut out mid-week plowing of the 17-mile torturous route from Port Angeles...and finally, we may be moving this newsblog to a new website; stay tuned for details.
17 October 2012 -- And so Arapahoe Basin wins the first-to-open honors, outside of Timberline of course. First chair spun this morning and a few hardy skiers are making turns down High Noon, which looks to have decent coverage. Meanwhile over the hill at Loveland, the Catwalk/Mambo route continues to look good up high, but not so much back down to the chair...snow guns went on for a bit at New Hampshire's Loon Mountain this weekend...but the most jaw-dropping news of all -- if it's true -- is that Vermont's Jay Peak has reduced ticket prices this season. That's not a typo, folks, a resort spokesman says that tix are going from $75 last year to $64 for the 2012-13 season. Jay says it can do this because of the additional revenue it is enjoying thanks to the new waterpark and hotel. Whatever the reason, kudos to Jay Peak...best news of the week is out of Montana, where it was just announced that shuttered Teton Pass will re-open this season after a $1.8 million cash infusion. Owner Nick Wood of New Zealand is targeting December 15 for opening day. The lifts have been quiet since 2009...Aspen Senior VP David Perry says early season reservations are down; industry pundits are calling it a result of the "snow hangover", meaning that skiers are gunshy about committing to costly trips after last year's early season debacle...the Bear River Watershed Council in Cache County, Utah is claiming that Cherry Peak Ski Area developers cut some trees at the proposed resort near Richmond. The BRW council says this violates the conditional use permit. This is all located north of Logan, and it seems to me it will fight with Beaver Mountain for skier dollars if it ever gets off the ground....Bode Miller, my longtime close, personal friend, has announced that he will skip the season opener in Soelden.
11 October 2012 -- Snow guns kicked on at Killington overnight up on the North Ridge. Not much to see, but it's a start...Snow bearing down on Colorado this weekend; work crews at Vail have helicopters working on tower installs for the new gondy. The guns are blowing on the Golden Peak section...down the road at Beaver Creek they're finishing up some redesigns on the finish area for the Birds of Prey World Cup course, talking about turning on the snowmaking apparatus next week...Speaking of Vail properties, White River National Forest approval of the Peak 6 expansion at Breckenridge now faces two appeals, the most meaningful being a petition signed by individuals and a couple environmental groups including the local chapter of the Sierra Club. The petition is mostly regarding the lynx habitat, but also gets into disruption of the scenic beauty and takes exception with Breck's (owned by Vail Resorts) reasons for expansion, claiming that the terrain isn't suited for what the developer says it needs...."Town meeting" type thing scheduled for for 6 pm tonight at Idaho's Soldier Mountain to discuss the future of the ski area; Bruce Willis is donating the operation to a non-profit foundation that will run it...at least one pro has lent support to Lindsey Vonn's desire to enter the mens downhill in Lake Louise; Canadian speedster Kelly VanderBeek, who still is recovering from a serious knee injury, thinks it would be great publicity for the sport...U.S. Paralympic skier Chris Jefferson of Grand Junction CO will receive a grant from the High Fives Foundation Winter Empowerment Fund. High Fives is a nonprofit out of Tahoe, CA that is "dedicated to raising money and awareness for athletes that have suffered a life-altering injury while pursuing their dream in the winter action-sports community." The grant will help Jefferson travel to competitions; he is a regular at Powderhorn Mountain Resort where he regularly assists other skiers in adaptive programs...Not sure Loveland can make a go of it this weekend, they've got Catwalk and Mambo covered but the rest of the route is still too thin. I guess it all depends on what the storm brings...guns are scheduled to re-fire tonight over the hill at A-Basin, I honestly think they might get the jump on Loveland again this year because they have the fan guns and a shorter opening route.
8 October 2012 -- That sleeping giant known as the Average U.S. Skier awakened from his and her slumber as small but mighty Wild Mountain in Taylors Falls MN opened yesterday on a combination of blown snow and ice chips. And by "open" we mean a rather short bunny hill, but hey! Game on in the midwest...more good news, snow fell at higher elevations in New England overnight. Mainers awoke to a fine dusting from mid-mountain on up at Sugarloaf; across the region notable dustings fell at Jay Peak and Cannon, and finding some white stuff as far south as Stratton. This is just a dusting, and yes the region got an October storm followed by a horrifying dearth of snow last season, but it gives us something to talk about...wouldn't it be a pleasant surprise if Killington was laying some hose out on the old Glades area. I still can't get used to the new name, whatever it is...coming into Ski Swap season, we'll keep you posted on some of those...speaking of New England, Mad River Glen and Sugarbush buried the hatchet Saturday as promised; announcing a bunch of pass options and ski-three ticket deals...Middlefied CT selectmen are breathing a sigh of relief now that Sean Hayes, the new owner of hopefully-to-be-reopened Powder Ridge has indeed secured $2 million in funding, and has it in writing...in Colorado, the guns blazed most of the weekend at Arapahoe Basin and Ski Loveland, quiet now in the bright warm sunshine, but the base is looking good...and from the FIS World Cup circus, you may be aware that Lindsey Vonn has requested an opportunity to race against the men at Lake Louise, even though she projects to be five seconds slower than the top competitors. FIS is probably trying to figure a way out of this, even though they have yet to say "no". Their "out" will probably come from the rule that says no skier can test a course in the week prior to the competition, and Lake Louise DH is essentially the same course for men and women.
5 October 2012 -- Big news in a big way from New England where Sugarbush put out a statement that they will announce a joint seasons pass with valley rival Mad River Glen on Saturday. This is quite a breakthrough, as the 'bush swiped MRG's GM when they started up, and supposedly the deal was done in MRG's own lodge. This isn't quite as big as when the Berlin Wall fell, although some VT skiers might say otherwise...Skico always managing to find its way into the news, announcing that the new "Elk Camp" restaurant will be ready for the season opener at Snowmass. They've been building for two years and the cost is now topping $13 million. The 15,000-square-foot structure will replace the old Cafe Suzanne....ok, let me start by saying, I am not making this up. These are the first three sentences from a press release that Vail Resorts put out yesterday, concerning their Tahoe/Truckee properties. Here goes: "The mountain experience at Lake Tahoe has been re-imagined. It has been reborn thanks to significant on-mountain investment over the past decade. It includes a cultural movement that embraces the skier or snowboarder and takes their experience to the next level." And it goes on with "service initiatives" and other pseudonews that I can't sort out. To the writer's credit, it does cover the who/what/where/why and how. But no matter how I re-imagine it, I still don't know what it means...I do know that Arapahoe Basin has every intention of fighting Loveland for first-to-open; right now A-Basin has a nice ribbon of white on the skier's right side of Sundance, and the fanguns are spinning as I type this. Over the hill, Loveland has guns going on the usual early season Catwalk/Mambo route...not to be outdone, Idaho's legendary Sun Valley cranked up a few guns yesterday, but conditions are limiting them to 4 or 5 hours of snowmaking per day...news from the North Cascades, where Methow Valley Ranger District says North Cascade Heli-Skiing blatantly cut a number of high altitude trees in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest to accommodate their operations after being issued a warning. Company owner Paul Butler says "we made a mistake and we apologize," and that he fully expects to be put on probation. Bullshit. Their permit should be rescinded.
4 October 2012 -- Huzzah! Mountain ops fired up the compressors at Loveland in the wee hours this morning. They've been getting periodically dusted, then warmed, then dusted, etc. for the past two weeks and now it looks as if they might be able to make it stick...Skico is hosting a job fair today at the Bumps Restaurant, base of Buttermilk, accepting applications for jobs in hospitality, lift operations, rental/retail and ski school...New Mexico's Angel Fire just announced that they will keep their zipline open during the ski season. Not that I care, but you might...By now you've heard all about Glen Plake's avalanche adventure on Manaslu, interesting backstory is Plake said he was in his tent, reading his Bible when all hell broke loose.
4 October 2012 Footnote -- I have to start the season with a tribute to the legendary Andy Williams who passed away recently. In addition to being one of the all-time great vocalists, Williams was an outstanding skier and a fixture at Aspen through the 1960s and 70s -- it's a shame his ski-related legacy has been overshadowed by the Spider Sabich firearm lesson gone awry. Anyway, he was a great skier and ambassador for the sport back in the day. More importantly, he was one of the all-around nice guys. Williams played a small role in U.S. history when he accompanied Ethel Kennedy back to New York after RFK was assassinated, then escorted her to the funeral, where he sang "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Little bit of trivia, RFK was buried wearing Andy Williams' necktie after John Glenn hastily collected suitable clothing for the body. Prior to the horrors of 1968, Williams, Kennedy, and Glenn helped kick off the opening of Waterville Valley. Somewhere in a ski lodge this season the unmistakable voice of Andy Williams singing "Canadian Sunset" will be piped through the loudspeakers...
Out there, on that ski trail
Where your kiss...filled me with thrills
...and we'll quietly say, thanks Andy, rest in peace.
News from January 2012 to the dismal end of the season is located here.
News from January thru December 2011 is located here.
News prior to January 2011 is located on the Oct/Nov/Dec 2010 page. Previous season and earlier news has been deleted and moved to the skiernet news archive from 2009-2010, or for 2008 and older seasons click here.
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Use this to get Lift Tickets at Discount: There is a "clearinghouse" of sorts that many ski areas use to raise cash by selling discount tickets in advance, called Liftopia . If you haven't used this service, it is important to know for certain that you are going on a specific date. The deeply discounted tickets must be purchased in advance; generally up to two days out. The sticking point is that some ski resorts only make a limited number of tickets available to Liftopia for any given day, so they might be sold out if you wait too long...so, as soon as you are absolutely, positively sure that you will be skiing on a certain day, click this link to get deeply discounted tickets . I've used this service many times, but again, ONLY when I am absolutely certain I will be skiing on a specific date. You need to have access to a printer to print out your receipt, and you have to take identification with you to the mountain. I've knocked a third off the price of some tickets. Not every area participates, but it's well worth checking if you've got a date nailed down.
A tiny portion of your Liftopia purchase helps fund this website, at no added cost.
Did you ever feel like those big money ski movies are often a big let-down? You get all pumped up for the new release from some ski film company, and it's mostly incredible footage of guys jumping out of helicopters and shredding down some un-named mountain on the far side of the globe. They're neck deep in powder, skiing lines that you'll never, ever see. If you want ski movies you could actually relate to, a bunch of guys called The Meatheads, from Burlington, VT have made a series of "Ski The East" films. They film at real resorts like Sugarloaf, Blue Mountain, Big Boulder, Mount Snow, Ski Sundown, Stowe, Jay, Mountain Creek, Killington, plus some backcountry New England stuff, as well as a few urban locations. It's simply fantastic -- and since it's the same terrain we can get to, it's inspirational!
Their most recent release is Wild Stallions, although the one that is probably their best is from a year ago, called Head For The Hills. Both DVDs have hours of "bonus" footage, so it's like getting three ski movies for the price of one. The links go to Amazon.com, which enables you to order and return if you don't like them. And a small percentage of the sale helps us pay the expenses of this website, at no extra cost to you.
Here's a preview, courtesy Youtube...
Apologies to Mean Gene for borrowing his line. Please click here for the main SkierNet.com page.