Sunday, November 28, 2010

Gore Mountain, 11/28/2010: Opening Weekend

I don't ski opening weekend every year.  Sometimes the weather doesn't cooperate, sometimes Thanksgiving plans with family interfere, and sometimes I just don't feel like elbowing my way through the crowds on the single icy trail that's usually open. 

Topridge skied great!

But today it turned out that the snow was excellent, some great additional terrain came on-line, and crowds were light. And yeah, we had some family visiting for Thanksgiving, but we just brought 'em along!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Whiteface Snowmaking Tour: 11/24/2010

Yesterday I had the opportunity to participate in the Whiteface Mountain Snowmaking Media Tour.  About a half dozen of us were met in the main lodge by Bruce McCulley, General Manager of the mountain, and Jon Lundin, ORDA Public Relations Coordinator.  We started with an overview of the past year, the outlook for this winter, and plans for opening day this Friday, the 26th.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pre-season Ritual: The Ski Movie

Right around this time every year, with ski season just around the corner, I break out my VHS copy of the 1988 ski movie classic "Blizzard of Aahhhs." My wife rolls her eyes and heads for a different part of the house (reality: she settles in for her show in the family room, and sends me and my tape down to the basement playroom).

Despite the '80s soundtrack, skinny skis (by today's standards) and neon ski wear, Greg Stump, Glen Plake, Rasta Stevie and all the other characters in Blizzard are as entertaining and fun as they were twenty years ago.  If you love skiing, in my opinion this is THE must-see ski movie.

I'll still break out my copy of Blizzard of Aahhhs, but this year we decided to catch one of the local screenings of Warren Miller Entertainment's 2010 ski feature "Wintervention."  On Friday night we headed to Glens Falls to meet up with a group of 20 or so of our ski friends from Gore and West Mountain to catch the well attended screening at the Charles Wood Theatre.  Like all Warren Miller ski movies, Wintervention featured lots of extreme skiing in beautiful locations all over the globe.  The highlights for me were the sequences filmed in Antartica and Norway: remote wilderness settings with stunning scenery.

For avid skiers, the ski movie is an essential part of anticipating the coming ski season.  Although the local screenings of Wintervention are over now (Glens Falls and Albany were this past weekend, Saratoga Springs was earlier in the month), you can still catch a semi-local screening at Killington this weekend and a few other remaining locations in the Northeast.  Or you can just borrow my copy of Blizzard of Aahhhs.  But I want it back.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A chat with Chic Wilson

Chic Wilson is the affable owner and General Manager of Willard Mountain in Washington County, NY.  He and I had a chance to talk earlier this week not only about the upcoming season, but also about how he and his wife Kris have invested in Willard over the years and how the mountain has not just survived, but thrived.

Jeff: Could you give us a brief history of Willard Mountain, and how you became owner and General Manager?

Chic: Willard Mountain was started in the early 1950s by a group of partners who had the vision of creating a ski area in Washington County. I became involved in 1994. At that time I was the General Manager of a small ski area in Central NY, Toggenburg Mountain. I was also the President of the Ski Areas of New York association, and I was looking for a ski area that was a size that I could afford to purchase. This winter will be our 16th year.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Bumblebees are Dead. RIP.

Like most skiers, two things get me stoked the most for the start of ski season: the first snowfall, and new gear. I got my first taste of snow earlier this month skiing the Whiteface auto road, and this past weekend I bought new ski boots.

The new Terminators:  bring on the snow.

The pair that is being retired, my old black and yellow Scarpa T1 “bumblebees,” have seven or eight seasons on them, which translates to roughly two hundred ski days. They probably should have been replaced at the beginning of last season, if not even earlier.

Since I already knew the exact model and my size, getting fitted and making the purchase at our local ski shop was a piece of cake. I’ll return in a week or two to have the thermo-fit liners molded to my foot. Frankly, I never even considered the possibility of buying online: if there’s an issue with fit or any problem with the equipment down the road, I know I’ve got the retailer behind me. What I hadn’t anticipated, but was a nice surprise, was that the local shop’s “everyday” price already reflected a nice discount to MSRP. My experience over the weekend served as a good reminder to look to your local shop first when it’s time to replace older equipment or add to your quiver:
 - The Alpine Sport Shop, Saratoga Springs
 - Inside Edge, Glens Falls
 - The Gear Source, North Creek 251-2357
 - Willard Mtn Ski Shop, Washington County

Monday, November 8, 2010

Whiteface and Esther: 11/06/2010

What a difference a day makes. We had originally planned this trip for Friday, the 5th, but the weather forecast for Thursday and Friday was so dismal we pushed back a day to Saturday. We couldn't have scored a more beautiful day to be in the mountains.

Just enough snow to ski from the Toll House