The green of summer has changed to the red, orange and yellow of fall. It’s all just a prelude to our favorite color–the white of winter. And don’t look now, but that color of choice is getting ready to descend upon us.
If you believe the experts, the Farmer’s Almanac and AccuWeather are in agreement. The “soft” winter of 2015-2016 should not be expected this season. We like that attitude! It’s one typical of snow sports executives and consumers, people who have the rosiest of outlooks.
Using the adage that every event hurts some and helps others, the warmer winter of a year ago has, unfortunately for the snow sports industry, kept warehouses stocked with year-old hard and soft goods. This means that it’s a buyer’s market. If you don’t mind riding on gear that’s a year old, or wearing a parka that should have been sold last season, then you could hit the slopes this year looking brand new, yet having saved a bundle.
When it comes to the skis of choice, the selections have never been greater for every skill level.
A basic carving ski, with the wide shovel (front) reminds the skier to initiate the turn with the forefoot to engage the ski’s edge. Do that properly and the ski almost turns itself, while saving the skier lots of energy. But sit back on the tail and the ski could shoot out from underneath you, leading to loss of control, making you work harder, and bringing your day to an earlier conclusion.
Those of us in the East are well-advised to consider a versatile, all-mountain ski. That’s a set of boards that are stable on firm, packed snow, while enabling you to arc quiet turns in groomed packed powder. That same ski, right after fresh snowfall, will enable you to float in each direction through epic, fluffy powder.
Let’s take a few runs around snow country
Albany area skiers are blessed with so many resorts at their disposal within a drive of just a few hours. They’re located from Schenectady, down to the Catskills, up to Glens Falls, North Creek and Lake Placid, and in nearby Vermont. It’s not possible to sample all in one season.
For starters, put November 4-6 on your calendar. That’s the weekend of the former Albany Ski and Snowboard Expo, which has now evolved into the Northeast Ski and Craft Beer Showcase (www.northeastskishow.com) at The Egg. Now in its 55th year, resorts near and far and skis fat and fatter will be on display as representatives engage visitors and talk up the season.
One of those in attendance will be the self-proclaimed Beast of the East, Killington, Vt. The Beast started making snow in mid-October. The reasons were three-fold: It’s what they traditionally do in the fall to serve hard-core skiers and riders; it generates early season publicity; and it prepares for the East’s first World Cup alpine skiing races in 25 years.
Women’s slalom and giant slalom races on the international circuit will be held over Thanksgiving weekend (November 26-27), appropriately, on Killington’s Superstar trail. The American team will feature Olympic medal winners Lindsey Vonn, Mikaela Shiffrin and Julia Mancuso.
Closer to Albany, Maple Ski Ridge in Schenectady dates back to 1963. It’s not a resort as much as it is neighborhood skiing and riding in the manner in which we learned these activities—no intimidation or pressure like you might feel at a bigger, destination site. Just have fun in a setting where people know each other. This is a great place for a winter birthday party. Throw tubing into the mix and you can fall in love with the place.
Gore Mountain has grown by over 70 acres at the ski bowl, thanks to terrain turned over by FrontStreet Mountain Development to the Town of Johnsburg. It started with the transfer of 38 acres. The property, a bequeath to Gore Mountain, included the historic Hudson Trail, terrain beneath the Hudson Triple Chair and the Hudson Glade. Another 35 acres now enable the ski bowl to offer alpine skiing terrain, a terrain park, half pipe, ski and boarder cross, cross country skiing and a Nordic race course.
In the opposite direction, Peak Resorts, based in Missouri, enters its second season with Hunter Mountain in its Northeastern portfolio. The Catskill Mountain facility is a beast in its own right when it comes to covering its trails with man-made snow. The Slutsky family had made that their trademark in their longtime stewardship of Hunter.
Peak Resorts will, once again, bundle seven mountains into one pass, with prices starting at $399. Included in the group is Mount Snow in Vermont, along with Attitash, Crotched and Wildcat, all in New Hampshire. Road trip, anyone?
Hunter Mountain’s neighbor, Windham Mountain, is proudly boasting the successful completion of Whisper Creek. These luxury trailside condominiums are 75 percent sold, and two more Upper Wipeout home sites went to contract last spring after the challenging snow conditions of the season. Windham features 54 trails, of which 98 percent are covered with snowmaking.
Get away from that computer
If skiing and riding are in your future, we highly recommend preparing with some low impact physical activity, with the guidance of your physician. It is most difficult to go from sedentary to expert terrain without some pre-season “training.” Take it from someone who can’t stand a day without some kind of activity: Skiing and boarding are easier if exercise is part of your routine. If your aerobic capacity is good, you can handle longer runs. Some leg strength is helpful, too, and can help you achieve those longer excursions down the hill. Again, do it with the help of medical experts and/or a trainer. Your enjoyment of these sports will increase exponentially.