Council Tracks – February 2014

The newsletter of NJS&SC                                                                              February, 2014

If  you’re  a  Denver  Bronco’s  fan  the  Super-bowl  was  anything  but.    Eli  Manning  and  the Bronco’s never had a chance to buck as the overpowering Seattle Seahawks defense turned on the heat. Heat, however, was not on the agenda of Pennsylvania’s famous groundhog as the slumbering Phil was roused from his sleep only to say baloney and scurried back underground.     Good  thing  the  furry  forecaster  did  that,  because  Old Man  Winter  was hovering overhead.  The  Good  Ole Boy up North  whipped up a good  one and the weather forecasters didn’t’ see it coming.  They were so focused on game-day and what wasn’t going to  happen  that they  didn’t  bother  to  look  ahead  twelve  hours  after  the  game  (hahaha). Snow  might  not  be  good  for  football  games  but it’s exactly  what  the  Ski  Industry  needs. This season had its ups and downs and this storm could not have come at a better time. After a melt-down two weeks ago, the resorts were battling back but now have nature as their ally.   Although the weather didn’t cooperate for a few weeks it looks like we’re in for a great mid-season.   Today is Thursday 2/6 and the 2nd  storm (a big one) within one week just passed!  Put the shovel down, grab your skis and go as conditions are superb!!

I don’t know about the rest of you but I’ve gotten out five times this season and each time to a different mountain.   It’s been a mixed bag of Okemo, Shawnee, Blue Mtn., Hunter and Plattekill (more on this gem later).   Two weeks ago on Sat. Jan 25th  I met Frank DeRossi (Membership Discounts) at the Mahwah Sheraton.   When I left home to meet Frank, it was really cold…about 14 degrees at 7am.   I was reading the forecast for Hunter so knew we were  in  for  a  heavy  day  of  winter  snow,  cold  and  wind,  lots  of  wind.    I arrived  at  the Sheraton and Frank steps out in pajamas, yes pajamas.  In amazement I asked, “Frank are you  wearing pajamas”?!?! “Well yes but pajama pants actually but I’ve got long-johns on underneath”.   Having never skied with Frank before I was in for a day of surprises as he declared: “I have a Type A personality, go-go-go all the time; I don’t have time to get cold”. Not  only  did  Frank  not  get  cold,  but  he  skied  like  the wind  was  blowing:  hard,  hard  and harder.  We met his two friends from Montclair ski club and it was like sitting on the lift with a bunch of kids.   The wind was howling as we loaded Hunter’s Kaatskill Flyer for our first ride.   The one friend, took off his gloves and was playing with his smart phone praising the ‘App’ he installed that logs total runs, amount of vertical, names of trails you ski and with a GPS feature and phone numbers of friends you ski with can tell you where they are on the mountain at any given moment.   “Apps”….have invaded the mountain!   Franks other friend wearing “Tele-skis” announced he wanted to do something crazy then went on to say he’s sure  he’s  done  50  mph  on  skis but  wants  to  do  80mph.    I  turned  my  head  and  said,  if you’ve done 50mph on Tele-skis you already have done something crazeee on skis.   The Kaatskill flyer deposited us at the summit in a howling wind, where the actual temp was a balmy  12  degrees  or  less.    I  figured  with  the  gale-force  winds  which  had  frozen my lips together surely it must be below zero.   The four of us pushed off and the first choice of the day was a double-black.   I mean come on Frank, talk about a crazy act on skis….a double- black as the first run on a sub-zero degree day with a 25mph cross wind…….

The  Council  trip  to  New  Hampshire  is  history  and  since  I  didn’t  go,  I’d  love  to  hear comments from those who did.  In prior issues of our newsletter I reviewed each NH resort: (Attitash, Bretton Woods, Cannon, Loon, Waterville Valley) so those going would have an idea what to expect.  However, it’s been a while since I last skied Cannon or Loon and never Bretton Woods so I welcome your thoughts on them, reverse guidance you might say but eye-witness testimony is always welcome.   Saturday (Feb 8th) is the NJ State Race at Pico and  Vermont  is  supposed  to  get  whacked  so  it  looks  like  conditions  will  be  primo.    Once again,  Pat Finn  is  the  Race  Chair  and  will  be  announcing  but  certainly  other  people  are needed to help out with various chores.   If you are not racing see Pat or another Council Board  member  and  volunteer  a  half-hour  of your  time.  We  always  need  people  to  write times on the board and if multiple people volunteer no one loses much ski time.

FEATURED RESORT:  Plattekill Mountain, Plattekill, New York

Many of us know of Plattekill Mountain but how many have experienced it?   In the winter of 2002-2003 I was at Belleayre for a long weekend that got interrupted by torrential rains. On Sunday, everything was saturated so I went exploring and drove to Plattekill. Unfortunately  I  didn’t  ski  that  day  and  it  took  until  2014  to  get back.    The  morning  of Super-bowl Sunday High Life member/Ski Patroller Dave Nelson, my daughter Amanda, ex- ski racer Sunny Ross and I headed to Plattekill.  Dave refers to Plattekill as Mad River South which  is  a good  analogy  as  Plattekill is  a  down-home  ski  area  much  like  Mad  River  Glen. The base lodge is rustic, well-maintained and welcomes with old-time country charm.  It has three levels consisting of the 1st with ski school desk, rental shop, rest rooms, lockers and benches.   The 2nd level is the main floor with the cafeteria.   The 3rd floor has additional seating, a lunch counter, the bar and more rest rooms preventing the loathsome walk downstairs in ski-boots.   The back side of the lodge has a lot of glass so while on the 3rd floor we hit the bar, grabbed some food, and enjoyed a view of the slopes.

While having a beer (Zweic – you pronounce it) the fellow sitting opposite me asked if it was good.   That began a conversation about the mountain, its current owners and the fact that everyone here is ‘family’.  In the next few minutes I found out just what ‘family’ means.  In 1993,  current  owner  Laszlo  Vajtay  acquired  Plattekill.    A  few  years  later,  he  noticed  a beautiful blonde who skied there and totally captivated by her charm, intelligence and good looks married her.  I love smart women, not only did Danielle get a husband but a ski resort was part of the deal!   As the conversation continued, I found out the guy opposite me was Danielle’s  father  who  pointed  out  Danielle  and Laszlo  standing  a  few  feet  away.    Being  a representative  of   NJ   Ski   &   Snowboard  Council,  I   introduced  myself  to   Danielle  who welcomed me to (her) resort.  Since acquiring the area, Laszlo and Danielle made a number of improvements one of which was replacement of the original T-bar on one slope with a new  lift.    A  current  project  underway  is  a  new  snowmaking  pond  at  the  summit  to  allow gravity feed to the snowmaking system.   Danielle’s Dad told me the family is immersed in the resort and they are always thrilled to see new people at their mountain.

Plattekill  boasts  a  surprising  3,500  foot  summit  with  a  base  at  2,400’  for  a  respectable 1,100 feet of vertical allowing runs of good length.   The trail map shows 35 trails, a natural terrain park nestled in the woods and a tubing slope.   Being a life-long skier, I’m intrigued by trail design and general layout of any resort.   I really like Platekill’s trail system which makes good use of what nature gave it.   Trails appear to have been created by someone who knew what they were doing and the layout offers 20% green, 40% intermediate, 20% expert and 20% double-diamonds.  “Platty” as regulars call it, consists of 75 acres and while I don’t know what 75 acres looks like, this place looks much bigger.   Plattekill is an exciting medium size NY resort with enough variety and vertical to keep you going for the day.  Dad also told me that this is a family place where everyone knows everyone and many Platty- goers  are  regulars  returning  year  after  year  for  the  homey  atmosphere  and  really  decent skiing. Having now skied there, I wouldn’t hesitate to return to Plattekill and recommend it for a day of skiing or as a tune-up if you’re heading further North.

The resort gets its name from the town which took it from a nearby  stream the Platte or Platte‘kill’.   For people who are not cross-word puzzlers, the word “kill’ is synonymous with river.   Plattekill is tucked away in Rip van Winkle’s Catskills and definitely worth the drive for those seeking uncrowded slopes at a unique ski area with old style down-home feel.   If heading north on the NY Thruway take exit 19 (Kingston) then follow the signs for Plattekill Ski resort…..there are plenty of signs and no bad roads……you can’t get lost.

Plattekill offers some great deals so be sure to check out their website Some of these are skier appreciation days and other (1) day offerings such as: Feb 7th  when the first 50 people get a $15 lift ticket and Carload Day 2/14 when the more people you have in your car the cheaper the per person lift ticket gets.   As other resorts, Plattekill has on-line pricing which offers a lower price ticket than if you buy at the window.   The internet price fluctuates which can work in your favor.


COUNCIL TRIP: VAIL, COLORADO     (Feb 22 to 3/1/2014)

If you’ve never been to Vail, you’re in for a BIG surprise because Vail is the grand-daddy of US Ski Resorts.   We’ve all heard how large Vail is but do you have a handle on what large means.   A good way to do this is by comparing Vail stats. with other ski resorts you might be  familiar  with  (see  table  below).    Vail  has  a  front side,  a  backside  consisting  of  Vail’s famous back bowls, and what is called the Blue Sky Basin.  I’ve been to Vail so can give you an idea on the size.   Vail is so big that it has numerous base areas scattered around Vail valley.   As you drive from Denver to Vail on I-70 you pass numerous exits all of which say, “Vail Ski Resort”. They are far enough apart that you’d never know they’re part of the same ski resort.   Some of their base facilities may not have a lodge and when I was last there some were only a ticket window, a deck and a lift to get you up the mountain to the “day- lodge”.   One difference may have been that I stayed off site and was shuttled in each day so had to wear my boots on the bus or bring a back-pack with shoes if I wanted to walk in the village after 4pm.  With ski/in ski/out units there should not be a problem unless you ski down  and  into  the  village  at  some  point  during  the day  and  want  to walk  around.    Vail’s base village has a lot of ski shops, clothing stores, restaurants, bars, etc.   If you want to take  it  all  in  after  a  day  of  skiing  you  don’t  have  a lot  of  time  because  many  with  the exception of restaurants and bars close at 6pm.   If you want to shop prior to closing that means returning to your condo to change or locking up your skis and clomping around the cobble stone village streets in ski boots which is NOT fun.  Keep this mind and plan ahead if you want to shop.   Vail is a destination where shopping is described as “upscale” so shop wisely or be prepared to drop a lot of cash.

Altitude Sickness:  I am not sure of the elevation of the condo units but the base of Vail sits at  8120’.    !0,000’ is the  theoretical  elevation  for  the  onset  of  altitude  sickness  although some folks get hit with it sooner. Judging from the table below, it’s likely that most of your day will be spent close to 10,000’ so I recommend familiarizing yourself with the triggers of altitude  sickness  (caffeine,  nicotine,  alcohol,  chocolate,  cola  drinks, being  dehydrated). Prior to the trip get more sleep, increase your consumption of water and throttle back on intake of the others.  The MOST important fact is to drink lots of WATER each day and ease off  alcohol  and caffeine  because  they  dehydrate  you.    Life  at  altitude  is  all  about  getting enough oxygen so if you still smoke, be prepared for what may come with it.  I don’t smoke but experienced altitude sickness for three days while on a trip to Breckenridge.   I’ve also been  with  people  who  were  very  incapacitated  by  it  for  3-4 days.    If  you  know  you  are prone to altitude sickness I highly recommend getting medication before the trip which will be cheaper than what you pay for trip insurance!




Base  Summit



Skiable acreage


Lifts Annual snow
Vail 8120-11,570


5289 193 named trails +countless tree terrain 31 350”
Heavenly, CA 6564 – 10,100


4,800 97 + woods 29 360”
Mammoth, CA 7952 – 11,053


3500 150 + woods 28 400”
Snowmass, Co 8104 – 12,510


3362 94 + woods 21  
Telluride, Co 8725 – 13,320 3845 lift served 2,000


18 309”
Sunday River Various – 3140





*Killington = 1.5 Sunday Rivers.  6.5 Sunday Rivers will fit inside Vail!


2014 Winter Olympics:   The Olympics will start soon and this is our chance to see the world’s best compete in the snowsports. Today we received word that Staci Mannella and Kim Seevers were named to the final team going to Sochi. Currently they’re in Aspen to compete in the US National Championships and on Feb 28th will leave for Russia.   The Paralympic  Winter  Games  begin  on  March  7th    and  run  through  March  16th.     Opening ceremonies will be broadcast by NBC on  3/7/14.   Make sure you  tune in and watch  Staci Mannella, heroine of NJ Ski & Snowboard Council as she competes in the 2014 Paralympics! Sochi

 2014 U.S. Paralympic Alpine Skiing Team nominees

Subject to USOC approval


Lindsay Ball       (Benton, Maine)

Stephanie Jallen    (Harding, Pa.)

Allison Jones      (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

Staci Mannella    (Randolph, N. J.)

Alana Nichols      (Farmington, N.M.)

Melanie Scwartz   (Aspen, Colo.)

Laurie Stephens    (Wenham, Mass.)

Danielle Umstead  (Park City, Utah)

Stephani Victor    (Park City, Utah)


Pictured Below left to right:

Danielle Vajtay, Dir. of Marketing, Plattekill Mountain

Bob Zega, Chair of Public Relations NJ Ski & Snowboard Council

Sunny Ross, retired racer, slalom/GS/Super G



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