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Council Tracks – January 2014

Happy  75th   Anniversary!   Having  been  in  existence  since  1939  NJ  Ski  &  Snowboard Council celebrates 75 years of service since being founded!   The Council has been directed by many people over the years and continues to thrive.   Serving the public first  as  New Jersey  Ski  Council  and  now  as  New Jersey  Ski  &  Snowboard  Council  our  mission  is  to represent  the  interests  of  ski  clubs  and promote  the  sports of  skiing  and  snowboarding. The  Council  accomplishes  its’  goals  via  a  number of  programs that  include: a)  partnering with ski resorts to make skiing/riding affordable through a negotiated lift ticket program, b) hosts an  annual  fall  Kickoff  event (The  Ski  &  Snowboard  Expo)  to  get skiers, resorts  and travel  agents together  under  one  roof,  c)  sponsors  a  weekly  racing  program during  ski season,  c)  runs the  NJ  State  race  for  adults  and  children,  d)  runs  the  Stanley  Shiraga Memorial ‘Presidents  Race’  in honor  of  the  past  president,  and  e)  donates  to  charitable causes affiliated with the snowsports.  The Council has always had ski clubs and skiing as its central focus but also supports charitable causes including the Adaptive Ski and Sports Foundations   of   Windham   Mountain  and  Vermont.      In   so   doing,   we  discovered   Staci Mannella,  a  partially  sighted  skier  from Randolph,  New  Jersey  and  over  the  last several years  became a GOLD  sponsor.   Due to her dedication and support from NJ   Ski & Snowboard Council Staci is now headed for the 2014 Para- Olympics (see also page 5). Although economic times have been challenging, NJSSC has grown steadily over the years increasing membership to include almost 50 NJ and NY based ski clubs.  Our organization is a member of and supports the National Ski Council Federation, the parent organization of State Ski Councils.  We  are also  members  of  the  Eastern  Ski Writers  Association  and  its parent the North American Snowsports Journalist Association.   As often happens, changing attitudes, demographics  and  lifestyle  force  change  and  several  years  ago  recognizing  the high level of interest in Snow Boarding as a snow-sport, we elected to change our name. We  are  still  the  same organization  but better  positioned  to  serve  our  members  in  the coming years.   A big thank you to Susan Donlan, Dennis Young, the board members and department chairs who make it happen.  HAPPY ANNIVERSARY NJSSC, you’ve done well!

January is “Learn a Snowsport Month” and resorts are offering deals for beginners and those who introduce a newbie.  As snow people it’s our duty to familiarize people who vegetate all winter to the fun of winter life.   These  are  the  people  likely  to  vote  ‘No’  to  curb  global warming and need to realize that Winter is Nature.  No one actually likes to be cold, but no one actually likes to be hot either.  These folks have no idea of the grandeur of mountains in winter, nor how much fun we have on and off the slopes.   If we introduce someone to a snowsport they might consider joining a club when they realize what they’ve been missing. Vegetables are good but vegetating from November till April is not good for one’s health. Children should be encouraged to get fresh air and learn there is more to life than shopping malls. Experiencing life in winter is a “Natural” thing to do.

RESORT NEWS:  In earlier issues, I mentioned mountain improvements at various ski resorts one of which is Killington. The Big K has been talking about a new mountain top lodge since they demolished the old one in the summer of 2011.  Seeing pictures of the lodge under construction last autumn, I didn’t think an opening in Dec. 2013 was possible.  However, much to their credit, Killington delivered because today I read a press release that the new lodge opened Friday December 28th, a real accomplishment for the resort!  The new lodge is 15,000 square feet and accommodates 300 people.  I don’t know of many summit lodges with room for that many so it may be the largest in the Northeast.  Earlier statements by Killington were that its new lodge would be designed with the environment in mind and not overpower the mountaintop which we all hope is true.  Besides trail systems and vertical, ski lodges at the base, mid-station or summit are defining factors for any resort.  When we visit a mountain resort the human eye is unavoidably drawn to the summit as the pinnacle of the area and what sits atop is an asset featured in marketing brochures for years to come.  The price tag for Killington’s latest addition is a cool $7 million and that includes a restaurant, bar and lounging area with sofas and coffee tables.  It makes me wonder what kind of house I could build for $7 MIL?  If you haven’t been to Killington yet this season, the new lodge can be viewed by visiting www.killington.com where they posted a video and interview of Resort Managers (and customers) in the new lodge.

Many who participate in snowsports realize that Resort Owners are shepherds of the mountain and the land. We know there will be development but hope it will be done responsibly and with respect for the environment which draws us to the sport.  The sport of Skiing leaves a footprint on the land but that footprint can be attenuated. The new owners of Killington inherited a good resort but one needing upgrades.  So far they have delivered the ‘umbrella bar, the new summit lodge, eliminated a number of cross-over trails making the slopes safer and added a ‘park’’ called The Stash.  This is a sample of upgrades and there may be others I am not aware of.  The new owners seem to be on the right track and hopefully they’ll do something about the eye-sore maintenance garage that we ski past when descending Snowdon Mountain on the way to the Rams-Head base.

A good way to do that would be an evergreen tree planting program such as the one at Elk Mountain in Pennsylvania.  Elk has been beautifying their slopes for years by planting conifers along the sides of trails and other key areas.  Of course a maintenance garage is needed but it could be tastefully camouflaged by the planting of trees that stay green all year.  I also have a suggestion for another part of the resort that could be upgraded which is the tunnel connecting the Rams Head base to the Snowshed base.  It would be relatively

Easy to involve the surrounding communities by running a contest where elementary and/or high-school students would submit designs for murals on the inside of the tunnel. Killington would pick winners, local merchants could sponsor a scene by donating the paint and high school students or art majors from the local community college could paint the scenes.  This would involve students from all age groups, different factions (students, merchants) of the Community and well done eco-art would be better than a bare concrete tunnel.

COUNCIL TRIP:   The Council trip to New Hampshire later this month is fast approaching therefore I conclude my review of the remaining resorts we’ll visit.  I discussed Attitash Mtn. and Waterville Valley earlier so that leaves Bretton Woods, Cannon and Loon in this issue.

An easy way to do this is to compare mountain stats in the table below.

 

 Resort Summit Vertical Skiable acres # of Trails

# of Lifts

Attitash 2350 1750 310 Acres 67 trails 11 w 3 quads
Bretton Woods 3100 1500 464 AcresLarge Nordic trail system 62 trails35 glades3 parks 10 w 4 hi-speed quads
Cannon 4100 2180 264 plus 86 acres  backcountry total =  350 73 trails 10 w Only tram in NH!
Loon 3050 2100 370 acres with99%snowmaking20 km of Nordic & trails 61 trails 12 w 1 gondola and3   Hi-speed quads
Waterville 4004 2000 220 Acres 52 trails 5 glades 11 w 2 quads

 

I commented in depth about Attitash and Waterville Valley because I was at both in the last year so they are fresh in my mind.  However, it’s been many years since I skied at Cannon or Loon (never at Bretton Woods) but I can tell you what I know about them.

Cannon: was state owned but I don’t know if it still is.  Historically some felt that being a state owned mountain it never got the attention that a corporate run resort does.  Some complained Cannon didn’t make enough snow to maintain fresh conditions but their website states 97% snowmaking on Cannon Mtn. with the addition of 130 hi-efficiency guns on the ‘front-five’ and other key places.  It’s a (2) mountain resort and no snowmaking is mentioned for Mittersill peak which is a backcountry natural snow only area (currently closed). Cannon is a great mountain with the most vertical in NH other than Mt. Washington.  The resort has a true tram and if you haven’t ridden one it’s a must do as the sight of a tram travelling up a mountain is breathtaking and conjures up visions of the Alps and James Bond.  When I last visited Cannon, I only remember one base lodge which was a rustic log building with an all wooden interior and huge stone fireplace  that gave it a warm homey feeling.  Presently, Cannon has four retail shops at the Notch-view Lodge, the Tram Base lodge; a rental & service shop at the Peabody Base Lodge and a summit lodge so apparently the resort has grown over time proof that the state or whomever has not neglected it.  The website lists dining options as: the Lafayette food court, the Notchview café, Cafe 4080 at the summit, the Tramway Country store (tram base) and Cannonball Pub at the Peabody base.  The last time I skied Cannon was on a pristine cold day 20 years ago. I looked out at impeccably groomed trails of undisturbed corduroy.  I buckled up, inhaled the crisp, cold, air, looked up and gave thanks I was alive then enjoyed one fabulous mid- week ski day as I and a handful of locals had the entire mountain (and parking lot) to ourselves.   Cannon is a long-time favorite amongst NH skiers – DON’T miss it!!!!

Loon: On the Snow.com gave Loon a (4) star rating overall and I read a number of very positive reviews on the above website.  All considered it seems that Loon gets high marks for everything from just about everyone.  One reviewer summed it up as: “good terrain, fast lifts, good layout, easy to get to with great views”.  Loon boasts 99% snowmaking to insure good conditions, has indoor and outdoor climbing walls, a zip-line which travels 700 ft. across the “raging Pemigewasett river”, a 20km system of Nordic & Snowshoeing trails, a day/night tubing park and if that’s not enough there’s a newly constructed Ice Castle that’s open for visitors ($8).  If you are a boarder you’ll be happy to know that Loon’s terrain parks have consistently been recognized as some of the best in the country, winning high honors from Freeskier Magazine and Transworld Snowboarding, among others.

Bretton Woods: I saved this for last as judging from what I read I’d describe it as a real sleeper with more skiable acreage and amenities than all other resorts on this trip!  Of the (5) areas, this is one I’ve never skied so you’re getting a totally unbiased report. Comparing the stats above, Bretton Woods has a few less trails but makes up in acres of skiable terrain.  It also has 1 or 2 less lifts than the rest but four are high speed quads enabling big uphill capacity.  As a coastal state lying to the East of Vermont, New Hampshire gets the first wave of moisture laden air coming off the ocean.  Couple that with cold temps descending from Maine and Canada which makes for abundant snow. Last January I took a trip to NH and drove the length of Vermont without seeing any snow on the ground. Within 15 mins. of crossing into NH there was a foot of snow on the ground which got deeper the further into the state I went.  Bretton Woods is regularly voted “Top 5” in the East for Weather” by SKI Magazine and this doesn’t mean summer.  Snowmaking covers 92% of the area which is open for day & night skiing/riding. Improvements this year include: 40 new snow guns to Crawford Blaze, 20 upgraded guns to the “Ben” trails and other snowmaking upgrades for a whopping 54% increase in snowmaking!  Bretton Woods has its own Nordic (cross-country) ski area and while I’m not a cross country skier, was amazed to read the following statement:  The Nordic center is located on the grounds of the historic and restored Mount Washington Hotel and the White Mountain National Forest.  Bretton Woods Nordic Center is one of the largest cross country areas in the East!!!. The 100-km trail network crosses open fields, meanders through woods of spruce and fir, passes beaver ponds and mountain streams, and traverses open hardwood stands. Enjoy classical and skate skiing or snowshoeing on trails painstakingly prepared with our state of the art groomers. Don’t forget to stop off at the warming yurt or the rustic, backcountry cabin on Mount Stickney.  How many ski resorts can make this statement!!

Bretton Woods has stunning views of Mount Washington and if that isn’t enough to make your skis glide, they are celebrating their 40th  anniversary.  Now through March 1, 2014, guests who sign up for the resort’s eClub newsletter will be automatically entered for the chance to win a stay at The Lodge with 39 of their closest friends over St. Patrick’s Day Weekend!  Make sure you visit their website and sign up for the E-Newsletter!!  Bretton Woods won the 2014 Reader Ski Resort Award from Ski magazine!  Oh, did I mention dog sled rides and the winter canopy tour?!  Don’t miss Bretton Woods because this one is a sleeping beauty!

Last Tracks: On page 1 I mentioned that January is Learn a Snow-sport Month and I encourage everyone to take that seriously.  Sometimes we need a push, sometimes we need to hit rock bottom before we are willing to improve our lifestyle and attain better health.  With obesity in the US reaching epidemic proportions all of us need to do more.

Don’t sit back and do nothing for yourself or those around you.  Take a non-skiing neighbor, family friend, niece or nephew to the slopes with you this month.  Introduce them to the wonders of Winter in the outdoor world and a healthier way to live! Someone will thank you and our industry will be the better for what you did.

Staci Mannella:  Recently the Morris County Daily Record ran an article about people heading to the Olympics in Sochi, Russia in March.  Staci and Guide Kim Seevers did well in world cup races earning a sure berth on the team.  The newspaper story also announced that Staci was accepted into Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.  This fine young woman is a stellar example of one who did not let adversity keeps her from living life to the fullest.

We have followed Staci for three years as she pursued her dream that at one time might not have seemed possible.  With help from Windham Adaptive Sports Foundation and her very capable Guide Kim Seevers this young lady is now ready to take on the World competition at the 2014 Para-Olympics.  We look up to Staci and wish our best to this heroine who has captivated us with her determination and accomplishments. A speed princess on snow, a scholar in the class room, (Staci’s Mom told me she is a straight A student)…..we are all the better for knowing and supporting this fine young girl.  New Jersey Ski & Snowboard Council is proud to be a Gold sponsor of Staci Mannella and her Guide Kim Seevers!

The hopes of NJ and NJ Ski & Snowboard Council go with you……..bring home the Gold!

Be healthy and Ski,

Bob Zega

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.njssc.org/council-tracks-january-2014-3/