Monday, January 3, 2011
Happy New Year! Many thanks to all who visited Sugarbush over the holidays. Our team was delighted to welcome back so many old friends and meet so many new guests from all over the world.
All in all, we had some fun times and good skiing and riding even though Mother Nature made for some challenging days. It is so disappointing to get a nor'easter with its winds but without the foot or more of snow which normally precedes the winds. While New York City, Massachusetts, southern Vermont and New Hampshire had some nice snowfall, the storm stalled-out just thirty miles south of us and we ended up with a mere 3" of new snow last week. However, at one point we had over 80 trails open and, due to the quality of our snowmaking and grooming teams, we delivered a good product for guests who were here. I know that I enjoyed the skiing every day as did my kids and grandkids. While some of the natural trails were thin, early in the week runs down trails like The Mall, Twist, and Exterminator were terrific.
Early in the week we also saw ferocious winds and experienced a lot of windhold. While that is frustrating to everyone, as I explained in my prior posting, safety is our number-one concern and our lift mechanics have sole discretion when deciding when and when not to turn any lift. By Wednesday, winds were dying down. When we were able to get all the scheduled lifts up and running, lift lines disappeared and many were able to find some wonderfully fresh snow on a groomed Ripcord and Upper Organgrinder and fresh powder on Birch and Sunrise on Friday and Saturday.
Saturday and Sunday turned out to be springlike days. Given the number of people I saw on Ripcord on Saturday, I am sure there were some burning quads that evening for those who were skiing soft moguls all day long. While Sunday looked dreary in the early morning, the sun came out eventually, and where the sun shone it was once again springlike but in the shade it was starting to set up.
Winter returned last night and we have resumed snowmaking. The groomed trails this morning are skiing nicely, in particular on the Gate House pod where we groomed early. At Lincoln Peak we are on Birch and Sunrise and patching up Lower Downspout. At Mt. Ellen we are finishing our work on Inverness so that GMVS will have the race terrain they need. Next we will be moving over to Snowball and Racer's Edge at LP, touching up spots around mid-mountain, then finally getting over to Stein's Run. At ME we will be touching up mid-mountain and moving to Cliff's and then assessing where we should go next.
We do have a clipper or two in the forecast during the week, so I think those of you who are planning to ski this weekend will be pleasantly surprised by the change from yesterday. By MLK weekend, we will hopefully have a lot more of our natural terrain ready to ski as well.
This month is Learn to Ski and Ride month. At Sugarbush, we have some great programs for first-timers. I encourage all of you to find a friend who has never been on snow and encourage them to give it a try.
Skiing and riding is more than a sport -- it is a lifestyle that lasts a lifetime. Our First Timer to Life Timer program (which costs only $230) provides three lessons and rental equipment and then offers a FREE season pass for the balance of the year if these first three lessons are completed. So far this season, 48 people have earned a free season pass and have gained the passion for skiing and riding. Last year, 113 people earned free season passes, and five of those people became raving fans and bought season passes for this year.
In addition, we are honored to be hosting the inaugural ball for Governor-elect Peter Shumlin on Friday evening this week. It is the first time in state history that inaugural activities will be held at a ski resort, and we are very appreciative that the governor-elect has chosen Sugarbush. The theme of the inaugural is "Celebrate Vermont!" and we are very proud that our base village as well as our commitment to the local community has been recognized by the new governor.
Winter is just beginning. We are hoping that we just had our one and only "January thaw" and that Mother Nature is now going to deliver us a long and snowy season.