The Buzz: Ski Area News

25 February 2016 Rain, pain and drain continues in the east, bunch of resorts closed today to let water drain from the snowpack; they're hoping temps drop tonight as expected so they can re-groom, turn guns on and re-dust, etc...a slew of places from Bolton Valley VT to Bear Notch XC in NH are shuttered today to let the snowpack recover. Others, like Stratton VT are open, but simply held off on any grooming today. Many have indicated that they need to fire up the snowmaking to fix things, and have every intention of doing so, including Bromley VT, Attitash NH, Jack Frost PA and a host of others. Season has been so dismal, I have to wonder whether it's worth it...Adirondack throwback Big Tupper is giving up on the season; never opened to begin with...headed to Colorado? Only days remain to buy a GEMS Card, which is nothing less than the best deal in skiing. $25 gets you a one time two-for-one deal at each of the "gems" this season. These include Arapahoe Basin, Loveland, Ski Cooper, Monarch, Eldora and a bunch of others. Heck, use it just once at A-Basin or Eldora and you've more than paid for the card. And I'll tell anyone who'll listen that Ski Cooper down in Leadville is the most overlooked fantastic ski area in the nation, consistently providing the finest snow conditions...enough good news, let's get back to the misery, here's a look at New York's Plattekill this morning...

...silver lining is, Platty's going to be fine on Saturday, so you best get there because it will be May before you know it...Borvig manufactured Thunderstruck Triple chairlift malfuctioned this past weekend at Timberline Resort WV; about two dozen people fell from the lift and 100 more were stranded, fortunately only minor injuries. Broken cross arm on one of the towers, built in the 1980s, was the culprit...incident prompted Vermont officials to check the three Borvigs remaining in the Green Mountains. Stratton and Mount Snow both passed, but a key lift at Suicide Six was found to have problems with at least one tower. S6 remains closed until further notice...and in Maine, Sugarloaf no stranger to lift issues, quickly closed their Borvig manufactured Snubber chair just in case. Glad to say the chair was thoroughly inspected and, due to the fact that it had been revamped from the original design, posed no problems and is spinning again...been a great season in the Dakotas (how often do you hear that) and Terry Peak in the Black Hills has announced they'll stay open through March 27...sad to report multiple fatalities this weekend...Richard S. Bredeck, 65, of Minerva NY died this past weekend after losing control on Gore Mountain's double-black "Lies" trail...Frank Maddaloni, 56, from Califon, NJ killed at Snowbasin UT when he hit a tree...and the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center reports that Ernesto Rodriguez-Becerra, 30, a native of Mexico living in Jackson, WY clicked out of his bindings and walked under a closed boundary rope to snap a photo off the top of Grand Targhee's Dreamcatcher lift, plunged through a cornice and on down a cliff...our thoughts and prayers go with the families of these skiers...Mikaela Shiffrin back with a vengeance in FIS World Cup action, won her first slalom after returning. and Sports Illustrated star Lindsey Vonn still holding a narrow lead over Lara Gut for the overall...and finally today we say farewell to a country music legend, Sonny James, thanks for the memories...

8 February 2016 Is the Lindsey Vonn win count starting to be old hat? No, far from it. In the autumn of her career and still winning downhills seemingly at will, as she did this weekend in Garmisch-Partenkirchen on the famed Kandahar course. This was career WC win #76, and she did it handily, leading at every timing stage. Same course Ms. Vonn was rather disturbed about during the week, she was thrilled with how much better it was come race day. Going for the double yesterday in the Super G, Vonn came up just short behind Germany's Viktoria Rebensburg and Swiss star Lara Gut. The win for Gut narrowed the gap for the overall, which Vonn leads by just 90ish points. Rebensburg is third in the overall, and was third in the DH Saturday with Switzerland's Fabienne Suter in second...men meanwhile were in Jeongseong Korea for speed events, Norseman Kjetil Jansrud victorious in Saturday's downhill, Frenchman Dominik Paris second, and as predicted last week (see below) Steven Nyman tallied a third place he can be proud of. Yesterday's Super G won by Switzerland's Carlo Janka, with Italian Christof Innerhofer second and Vincent Kriechmayr of Austria third....up next, more speed events for the ladies in Crans-Montana while the men do techie battle on the Pacific Rim, this time in Yuzawa Naeba Japan...congratulations to the Denver Broncos, winning a throwback style Super Bowl that reminded me of a couple of the early contests, brutish brawls like Super Bowl III, V, VII, IX...everybody was smiling in that part of Colorado yesterday, especially if you were earning your turns telly style at Rocky Mountain National Park as Ally was...

...old time New England resort Cranmore just announced plans for a $50 million condo/slopeside ownership thing, likely to radically change traffic patterns around North Conway...we keep talking about Sugarloaf getting all the snow in the east, need to also mention small but mighty Titus Mountain up in New York state, they're in the boonies beyond the Adirondacks and they have plenty of snow in this topsy-turvy season...mentioned weeks ago that quirky Mt Waterman in Southern Cal was open this year, which of course is great news, saying that just to set up a tragic tale since most of us scratch our heads when we hear about Mt. Waterman, as in, what the heck is that. Anyway, sorry to report that 61-year-old William Eslick Jr. of Winnetka, CA (San Fernando Valley) hit a tree Saturday at Waterman and died; our thoughts and prayers are with his family...and a woman killed skiing this weekend at Cascade Mountain Wisconsin, also hit a tree, hasn't been identified...better news from Loveland CO, skiers over at the Valley section got to see Mikaela Shiffrin practicing her craft this weekend, making progress on her comeback...Saddleback Maine will not be open for February vacation week, seems to be some glitch with the as yet unannounced buyer...let's end it on a high note, a real high note: major props to Wintergreen Resort VA, Wintergreen Adaptive Sports doing their 12th Annual Wounded Warrior Weekend, this time putting 30 American heroes on the slopes to do what we take for granted. Special kudos to the Wintergreen homeowners who hosted the Veterans and their families.

Thanks for joining me here at Ski Bum USA...We'll be doing more work on this site in the days ahead, the idea is that Gondyline will be exclusively devoted to history, lost ski areas, ski collectables, and generally where the sport has been...while Ski Bum USA is devoted to the here and now. Readers of this column deserve my personal thanks with a free USA sticker for your helmet, or your board, or whatever. Just e-mail your mailing address to sticker -at- skibumusa -dot- com and say "send me a Ski Bum USA sticker." They look like this:

Use this to get Lift Tickets at Discount: There is a "clearinghouse" of sorts that many ski areas use to raise cash by selling discount tickets in advance, called Liftopia . If you haven't used this service, it is usually best to know for certain that you are going on a specific date. The deeply discounted tickets must be purchased in advance; generally up to two days out. The sticking point is that some ski resorts only make a limited number of tickets available to Liftopia for any given day, so they might be sold out if you wait too long...so, as soon as you are absolutely, positively sure that you will be skiing on a certain day, click this link to get deeply discounted tickets . I've used this service many times, usually when I am absolutely certain I will be skiing on a specific date. Some resorts offer "flex" tickets with which you can specify the date, and some have a few different tiers of pricing. In other words, you might be able to get a lift ticket that can be used on different days, but you'll pay a little more for that privilege. You need to have access to a printer to print out your receipt, and you have to take identification with you to the mountain. I've knocked a third off -- even half off -- the price of some tickets. Not every area participates, but it's well worth checking before you head to the slopes.

A tiny portion of your Liftopia purchase helps fund this website, at no added cost.

Use this to get Ski & Board Rentals at Discount: If you're traveling to resorts in Colorado or Utah and you don't want to hump your gear through the airport, Breeze Ski Rentals is a convenient alternative with a number of different price levels. You can even bring your own helmet or boots and save a couple bucks if that interests you. Another thing is, they have locations at major resorts, as well as en route. I happen to like their Exit 234 location on I-70 when I'm headed to Summit County. Again, a tiny portion helps fund this website, at no additional cost to you. Breeze rentals.

5 February 2016 Perhaps the groundhog was wrong? Guns are back on across New England, snow falling on some areas in Pennsy, plus a bit at Mountain Creek NJ and snowmaking guns back on at Belleayre NY...in Vermont Stratton bounced back quickly, trail count back up to 70 something; they plan to have fan guns running all weekend...across the valley at Bromley the guns were blazing on Blue Ribbon this morning...one of the few Vermont areas that has me puzzled is Q Burke Resort; they act like a major player, they're putting the finishing touches on a beautiful hotel that frames Willoughby Gap, but they just don't make enough snow and were positively clobbered by the recent warming...move across the great expanse of the USA and we got 7" of new snow at Anthony Lakes...in Colorado, Loveland blew past the 200" mark for the season, they've got some kind of chairlift speed dating thing going on tomorrow. In my experience the expectations look like this...

...but the reality is more like this...

...ok I'm just kidding...FIS World Cup ladies still looking for a skiable surface in Garmisch-Partenkirchen where apparently Lindsey Vonn wasn't thrilled with the conditions and called the Kandahar course "bally." Her word, not mine. Today's practice run cancelled...men meanwhile in Jeongseon Korea this weekend, fastest time in today's training run posted by Kjetil Jansrud; good ol' Steven Nyman might have something for this event...sorry to report that Montana State University student Nathaniel "Alex" Wright of Alaska, age 20, was found dead this morning after skiing alone in the History Rock area of Hyalite Canyon yesterday. Spokesman for the Sheriff's office says "it appears he had an equipment malfunction which led to a cascade of events ending in his death"...and 35-year-old Heo Hyunki, of Tacoma WA, died Wednesday afternoon after sustaining a heavy crash Sunday night at Blue Mountain Pennsylvania; death ruled an accident...Our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and families of both men...Steamboat just got approval to build one of those mountain coaster contraptions...Snowbird grabbed another foot of fresh overnight, unexpected storm there...hey it's the weekend, why are you here...see you on the slopes!

3 February 2016 Snow, we want snow...more falling at Steamboat, it continues, over 7" of fresh since yesterday...word in the east is, "closed," as many areas are saving what they got for the pending weekend...some are grinding ahead, Seven Springs in southwest Pennsy is open but I have no idea why...

...not much happening, and that cloud you see is the now semi-gaseous state of what was once the snow pack. Fear not, they'll rebound nicely once this passes. In the east this is just business as usual...only real bright spot, and that's so far, is Sugarloaf Maine; they've got snow falling this morning but we do expect that to, uh, not be snow by this afternoon. We'll have to wait and see...in the west, more from Colorado, business as usual according to this photo from the A-Team showing some nordie love in Rocky Mountain National Park yesterday afternoon...

...and the FIS World Cup white circus is in Jeongseon Korea for men's speed events. Ladies are in Garmisch Partenkirchen prepping for the same; defending champs are Tina Weirather in DH and Lindsey Vonn in the SG...Special Olympians on the Stewart Slope at the Black Hills' Terry Peak today, we give props to Terry and "job well done" to all the athletes and volunteers...settled base depth at Grand Targhee right around the 100" mark right now...thoughts and prayers are with the family of Stephen Jones, 50-year-old BC skier missing near Park City since the weekend, found yesterday afternoon apparently killed by an avalanche...another airlifted skier in Connecticut, a 17-year-old girl who took a serious spill at Ski Sundown yesterday, no word on her condition, but we're happy to report the 12-year-old girl airlifted over the weekend from Mohawk Mountain is recovering and will be just fine...Squaw Valley, Alpine Mountain CA first ski areas to publicly "ban" disposable water bottles (they won't sell them and they'll frown if you bring them). I imagine they aren't the first, but they are the first big resort...speaking of the Tahoe area, Sierra-at-Tahoe says snowpack is 130% of average...and Pennsy's Blue Mountain (that's near Allentown) has announced plans for a big upscale condo development...pleased to report that 21-year-old snowboarder Oliver Smith survived two frigid nights in the backcountry near Mt Baker Washington; he went missing last Friday. Searchers were called in, then called off amidst a 14" storm Saturday. Smith was found alive and mostly well Sunday morning.

Thanks for joining me here at Ski Bum USA...We'll be doing more work on this site in the days ahead, the idea is that Gondyline will be exclusively devoted to history, lost ski areas, ski collectables, and generally where the sport has been...while Ski Bum USA is devoted to the here and now. Readers of this column deserve my personal thanks with a free USA sticker for your helmet, or your board, or whatever. Just e-mail your mailing address to sticker -at- skibumusa -dot- com and say "send me a Ski Bum USA sticker." They look like this:

Use this to get Lift Tickets at Discount: There is a "clearinghouse" of sorts that many ski areas use to raise cash by selling discount tickets in advance, called Liftopia . If you haven't used this service, it is usually best to know for certain that you are going on a specific date. The deeply discounted tickets must be purchased in advance; generally up to two days out. The sticking point is that some ski resorts only make a limited number of tickets available to Liftopia for any given day, so they might be sold out if you wait too long...so, as soon as you are absolutely, positively sure that you will be skiing on a certain day, click this link to get deeply discounted tickets . I've used this service many times, usually when I am absolutely certain I will be skiing on a specific date. Some resorts offer "flex" tickets with which you can specify the date, and some have a few different tiers of pricing. In other words, you might be able to get a lift ticket that can be used on different days, but you'll pay a little more for that privilege. You need to have access to a printer to print out your receipt, and you have to take identification with you to the mountain. I've knocked a third off -- even half off -- the price of some tickets. Not every area participates, but it's well worth checking before you head to the slopes.

A tiny portion of your Liftopia purchase helps fund this website, at no added cost.

Use this to get Ski & Board Rentals at Discount: If you're traveling to resorts in Colorado or Utah and you don't want to hump your gear through the airport, Breeze Ski Rentals is a convenient alternative with a number of different price levels. You can even bring your own helmet or boots and save a couple bucks if that interests you. Another thing is, they have locations at major resorts, as well as en route. I happen to like their Exit 234 location on I-70 when I'm headed to Summit County. Again, a tiny portion helps fund this website, at no additional cost to you. Breeze rentals.

2 February 2016 Happy Groundhog Day, for whatever that's worth...nasty stuff in the east...Paoli Peaks IN shut down for the day; they'll try to regroup after the monsoon passes and winter returns....many New England areas, including Bromley VT and Jiminy Peak MA among the notables planning to shut down for a couple days until the deluge passes...even venerable Mad River Glen closed today; their natural cover isn't holding up to the heat but they'll try to reopen with something this weekend. Here's a glimpse of MRG this morning...

...meanwhile another 7" of snow at Steamboat yesterday...search continues for Stephen Jones, 50, of Wanship UT, a backcountry enthusiast missing somewhere near the "Canyons" section of Park City since Sunday afternoon...14-year-old Taylor Biggs of Twin Falls ID died this weekend after crashing into a building at Soldier Mountain Ski Area during a trip with the Twin Falls High School ski club. Biggs was wearing a helmet but still suffered a severe brain injury. We'll let Soldier Mountain's official statement say what we can't: "Our Hearts & Prayers are with the Biggs Family and Friends: Now that information has been released from her family, we would like to properly acknowledge the devastating loss of Taylor Biggs life. We can't ever know why she was taken from this world at such a young age and we can only hope she is in a better place now. Love and light to her family, friends and everyone in the community affected by Taylor's loss, including the Soldier Mountain ski patrol who worked tirelessly providing first aid until the helicopter arrived to take her to the hospital. May you find peace, Taylor."

1 February 2016 More snow in the Rockies, more warmth in the east...snowboard great Shaun White now a part owner of Mammoth Resorts, which operates California resorts Mammoth Mountain in Mono County and southern Cali's Bear Mountain and Snow Summit in the Big Bear area, which is where White first practiced his art...Loveland reporting 5" of fresh this morning...our thoughts are with a 12-year-old girl airlifted to Hartford CT hospital Saturday after an accident at Mohawk Mountain; no further details yet...Summit County Sheriff's office investigating a January 18th hit and run collision at Keystone that resulted in seven broken ribs for Lori Convy, 56, Overlook Park, Kansas that was not reported to them. Spokesperson for the office said "we were unaware of the incident involving the skier accident on January 18th and it is currently under investigation." Fleeing the scene of a serious ski accident is a crime...it's been that kind of week I guess, two skiers hospitalized yesterday after a chairlift incident at Granite Gorge, NH in which two chairs had apparently collided and four people were trapped. Additional skiers were evacuated from the lift, which is now closed pending investigation. Lift is Borvig brand according to New England Ski Industry website...bad weather called off both FIS World Cup events yesterday; ladies were in Maribor for slalom while men were in Garmisch-Partenkirchen for GS...how about better news...Windham NY just dropped the ropes on a new trail, called Wildcat. Windham is known for trail names beginning with the letter W...back to World Cup, Kandahar downhill in Garmisch won Saturday by Norwegian Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, his first victory, with second place to Slovenia's Bostjan Kline -- his first podium! Third place taken by a more familiar competitor, Switzerland's Beat Feuz who is coming back from injury. Ladies GS action Saturday saw Germany's Viktoria Rebensburg edge Slovenia's Ana Drev, who finished 0.32 seconds off the pace. Tina Weirather was a solid third. Lindsey Vonn and Lara Gut DNFd.

28 - 31 January 2016 I'll be off until Monday -- see you on the slopes!

27 January 2016 News out of northern Maine is long time local hill Mt Jefferson has been sold. Owned by the Delano family for over 50 years, now owned by Ken Zimmerman of Tewksbury, MA. Zimmerman says he wants to develop night skiing, camping, snow tubing and, eventually, outdoor concerts as additional activities at the ski area...elsewhere in Maine we await news on the pending sale of Saddleback, supposedly any day now and some snowmaking equipment has been moved around -- first sign of activity this winter...move to New Hampshire, word is Attitash is now at 90% of terrain...looking west, the rich get richer; more snow over the past couple days at Steamboat. Here's a photo update from the boat, courtesy Team MET...

...as in, Mike, Evan, and Troy. Every trail open today, 16 of 18 lifts running but it hardly matters, conditions are simply outstanding...down the boulevard, small but mighty Howelsen Hill enjoying the same good stuff, 100% trails open on a 49" base...Whiteface NY gearing up for the Empire State Winter Games February 4-7, kudos to the organizers & Whiteface as one of the highlights will be the US Paralympic Ski Team training and racing in sanctioned slalom, giant slalom and super G events...news from Utah, 22-year-old backcountry skier from Minnesota partially buried and injured in an afternoon avy yesterday in Big Cottonwood Canyon, the man was skiing with Wasatch Powderbird which operates out of Snowbird in neighboring Little Cottonwood Canyon...36-year-old Mark Panthen of Bellingham, WA not so fortunate, killed by a slide Sunday on Mount Herman near the Mt Baker Ski Area...neglected to update bad news from Kitzbuehel last weekend, mens overall leader Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway and Austrians Georg Streitberger and Hannes Reichelt all badly injured on the Streif; Reichelt says he will take part in tomorrow's first training in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, to see how his hurt left knee responds. Svindal (ACL) and Streitberger now out for the season....groundbreaking yesterday at long lost Laurel Mountain in Ligonier, PA; a joint project between Seven Springs and the Commonwealth is now underway to reopen the area. Good news!

Thanks for joining me here at Ski Bum USA...We'll be doing more work on this site in the days ahead, the idea is that Gondyline will be exclusively devoted to history, lost ski areas, ski collectables, and generally where the sport has been...while Ski Bum USA is devoted to the here and now. Readers of this column deserve my personal thanks with a free USA sticker for your helmet, or your board, or whatever. Just e-mail your mailing address to sticker -at- skibumusa -dot- com and say "send me a Ski Bum USA sticker." They look like this:

Use this to get Lift Tickets at Discount: There is a "clearinghouse" of sorts that many ski areas use to raise cash by selling discount tickets in advance, called Liftopia . If you haven't used this service, it is usually best to know for certain that you are going on a specific date. The deeply discounted tickets must be purchased in advance; generally up to two days out. The sticking point is that some ski resorts only make a limited number of tickets available to Liftopia for any given day, so they might be sold out if you wait too long...so, as soon as you are absolutely, positively sure that you will be skiing on a certain day, click this link to get deeply discounted tickets . I've used this service many times, usually when I am absolutely certain I will be skiing on a specific date. Some resorts offer "flex" tickets with which you can specify the date, and some have a few different tiers of pricing. In other words, you might be able to get a lift ticket that can be used on different days, but you'll pay a little more for that privilege. You need to have access to a printer to print out your receipt, and you have to take identification with you to the mountain. I've knocked a third off -- even half off -- the price of some tickets. Not every area participates, but it's well worth checking before you head to the slopes.

A tiny portion of your Liftopia purchase helps fund this website, at no added cost.

Use this to get Ski & Board Rentals at Discount: If you're traveling to resorts in Colorado or Utah and you don't want to hump your gear through the airport, Breeze Ski Rentals is a convenient alternative with a number of different price levels. You can even bring your own helmet or boots and save a couple bucks if that interests you. Another thing is, they have locations at major resorts, as well as en route. I happen to like their Exit 234 location on I-70 when I'm headed to Summit County. Again, a tiny portion helps fund this website, at no additional cost to you. Breeze rentals.

25 January 2016 Game changer storm in the Mid-Atlantic states...And the biggest news of all, Cloudmont Resort in Alabama is now open following the storm! Some years the golf resort/ski area doesn't open at all, so when it does, that's our lead...over two feet of snow at most of the West Virginia areas, Snowshoe claiming 36" but I think that's a tad optimistic...Wisp Maryland looking good, open side to side with a couple minor exceptions. Here's a look at Wisp this afternoon...

...the storm tracked up to the Poconos and a bit beyond, Pennsy's highly regarded Elk Mountain has all but their one woodsy all-natural trail open. A week ago they weren't even half open...Mountain Creek NJ went from a couple white ribbons to about 80% open, and they're blowing snow on the others...moving to New York state, Bristol Mountain in the Finger Lakes smashed the champagne and dropped the ropes on a new trail this weekend called Lower Universe...another milestone from the Empire State, small but mighty Snow Ridge in Turin notched their 70th anniversary on Saturday. Snow Ridge is in the Tug Hill Plateau, which is an area west of the Adirondacks, north of Utica, east of Lake Ontario, and it gets inundated with snow. Unfortunately it's too far west of the Adirondacks to have any compelling terrain whatsoever. But Snow Ridge does the best they can, where they're at, with what they got, so we give 'em huge props...and Catskills throwback Plattekill got their popular gnarly north side open this weekend...16" of new snow yesterday at Snowbird UT...so much snow in the Rockies that Loveland has fired up that free cat operation...we seldom talk about the Black Hills, snowing there right now, Terry Peak getting dumped on. Great place if you're in the neighborhood...what else? Ah yes. That Lindsey Vonn keeps winning and winning. This weekend the ladies were in Cortina and yes, Vonn again won two (2) speed events. Oh my goodness. Downhill on Saturday saw Canadian Larisa Yurkiw finish second, with Swiss great Lara Gut third. Lindsey passed Lara in the overall; they're gonna be neck and neck all season. Don't feel too bad for Ms. Gut if she's edged out -- she's got a heck of a future ahead and the day may come when we talk about her winning everything in sight. Yesterday's Super G again, Vonn on top, followed by Liechtenstein's Tina Weirather and Germany's Viktoria Rebensburg. Men meanwhile were at the little event in Kitzbuehel; Friday's Super G went to Aksel Lund Svindal, with a nice second place for American Andrew Weibrecht. Hannes Reichelt third. Alpine Combined Friday was all French -- Alexis Pinturault, Victor Muffat-Jeandet and Thomas Mermillod Blondin topping the podium. Svindal denied again Saturday in the downhill on the famed Streif course, which saw Italian Peter Fill edge Swiss speedsters Beat Feuz and Carlo Janka. This was just Fill's second victory; pretty good one to have! Slalom competition yesterday placed Norway's Henrik Kristoffersen ahead of Austria's Marcel Hirscher and Germany's Fritz Dopfer. Believe it or not that second place for Weibrecht was just his second podium on the World Cup circuit. His WC record is definitely overshadowed by his Olympic success...24 -year-old Samuel Sawchuk of Troy, OH arrested this weekend at Mad River Mountain (the one in Ohio) for drunk and disorderly. I know, I know, big deal. Hey when this happens in Zanesfield, OH it's news!....Fritz Buser, majority owner of Tahoe's Mt Rose since 1971 is looking to sell...Jackson Hole Mountain Resort reports two skiers killed in a backcountry avalanche yesterday afternoon in the Rock Springs area, names not yet released...according to Pitkin County (Colorado) Undersheriff Ron Ryan, the demented skier who pushed a snowboarder off a chairlift at Aspen Highlands last weekend will be charged, but he ain't saying who or when. "There are legal elements to this incident that prevent us from releasing all the details at this time," says Ryan. Which leads me to believe the crime was committed by a legally certified nutcase or a juvenile...and we bid farewell to the legendary Bill Johnson, Olympic Downhill Gold Medalist from California via Mission Ridge in Washington State. The Johnson legend started when he was the first American in modern times to win a World Cup downhill, when he won the 1984 Lauberhorn in Wengen. Just one month later he was on top of the sports world with the DH gold in Sarajevo. After being plagued by injuries, Johnson attempted an ill-advised comeback at age 40 and nearly died in a crash at Big Mountain Montana in 2001. He later suffered a stroke and other setbacks, and passed away last week at age 55. Thanks for the memories, Bill...rest in peace.

21 January 2016 Mid-Atlantic states eyeballing Winter Storm Jonas, which means three things to bank on: First, Snowshoe, Canaan Valley et al could get over two feet of snow; second, the local grocers are under the gun right now; third, whoever came up with the idea of "naming" winter storms is a TV ratings genius...of course the biggest reason this is news is that there just hasn't been much natural fluffy flakey stuff in the east this season...Snowbird Utah reports 7" in the past 24 hours, total 50" in 5 days...Mammoth Mountain CA just topped 188" for the season, that's almost a foot more than the entire snowfall they got last season...Pac NW snow magnet Anthony Lakes got a foot of fresh yesterday...rare exceptions in parts of the east, Sugarloaf Maine looks to open parts of the snowfields this weekend...here and there in New England conditions are surprisingly good; snowmaking powerhouse Crotched Mountain in Southern NH is 100% open...in Michigan the Boynes have received a bunch of snow in the past week, they're just about 100% open and should be for the weekend...high speed action on tap this weekend for the FIS World Cup tour. Men of the White Circus are in Kitzbuehel for the Hahnenkamm, while the ladies will be careening down the hills of Cortina. Surprising second fastest time in Cortina training yesterday posted by young Jacqueline Wiles of White Pass WA. I don't think I need to tell you who was faster. Incidentally, current downhill great Aksel Lund Svindal has never won a downhill on the Streif. The only Americans to win are Buddy Werner and Daron Rahlves...update on that October 10 pre-season shooting death of 50-year-old Carl Woolwine at Alta Sierra, two of the defendants -- Thomas Ertz and Joan Noble -- pled no contest to acting as accessories to murder and must each serve three years probation. Both defendants knew about the shooting but didn't report the killing to authorities...avalanche update; skier buried in 2' of snow in Park City yesterday, no serious injuries...and east, backcountry skier Kaj Huld of Brunswick, Maine swept up and buried waist deep in an avy at Tuckerman's Ravine Monday; he's ok...keep your eye out for retiring NBA star Kobe Bryant; when asked how he plans to spend his retirement, Bryant replied, "I'm looking forward to skiing a little bit, I've never been skiing before." The NBA doesn't allow players to participate in alpine skiing...our thoughts and prayers are with 22-year-old Casey McAbee of Erie County, New York, who slammed into a tree last Friday at Holiday Valley, which if you aren't familiar with it is the biggest area in Western NY. Anyway, Casey suffered all sorts of serious injuries including a fractured pelvis and two broken vertebrae and a big time smack on the head. After an hour long search in the woods, she was found and airlifted to hospital. Casey, who has a small child, faces a rough road ahead. According to the family's GoFundMe page, "Casey is having improved brain function with lowered sedation. She is able to move her toes and arms on command, starting to take breaths on her own while still being on a breathing tube. She still cannot open her eyes though." If you would like to help, here's the link...no report tomorrow; back Monday.

20 January 2016 Vail Resorts adding to their midwest portfolio, buying Wilmot Mountain in Wisconsin, key location about an hour from Chicago. Wilmot built by the Stopa family in 1938; family owned it right up to the sale...fire in a compressor shed yesterday at Michigan's venerable Bittersweet Ski Resort after the GM tried thawing some pipes with a torch...better fire at Timber Ridge in Gobles, MI where they lit the torch for the regional Special Olympics; kudos to the Ridge for hosting...cold temps allowing the eastern snowmaking powers to play catch up ball; let's hope it's not too little too late...shout out to Attitash NH this weekend January 23 & 24 they're doing free lift tickets for active duty, veteran and retired service men and women and discounts for active duty family members...I'm calling today West-East Wednesday, although the east won't catch the west this season, it's finally "good" both east and west, first call out from Jackson Hole Wyoming enjoying some serious blower snow, photo taken this morning:

...and then we turn our attention east, again not quite as fab but not bad, not bad at all...

...that's today at Sugarbush Vermont, getting daily upslope snow and now 100% open, which is fantastic...Hunter Mountain New York went from zero to hero in about ten days; they had a white ribbon of death two weeks ago and now are serving up nice conditions on every lift pod. Not quite all their terrain yet, but they're getting there...couple more lift tumbles this past weekend, seems to be the season for little tykes falling from chairlifts. One dropped off the new chair at Gore Mountain in New York, meanwhile a 12-year-old boy plunged 20 feet at Wachusett after horsing around on the uphill ride. Happy to report no serious injuries, and perhaps a bit of wisdom gained...ah what the hell. New resort just opened in Qingdao China; here's the publicity photo from the grand opening...

...and Hidden Valley NJ back from the dead, it's been resurrected as a non-profit for kids who otherwise have no exposure to winter sports. Good cause...and here's a weird story from Aspen Highlands, this weekend some wacked out skier pushed a snowboarder off a chairlift, causing him to fall 20 feet to the ground! Fortunately the boarder landed in a pile of fluff and wasn't hurt, but what the heck is going on here? Hope they catch the lunatic that did it.

18 January 2016 sorry to report that searchers have yet to find off-duty instructor Carson May at Sugar Bowl California; the 23-year-old is believed to have been caught in an avalanche on Thursday. Unstable conditions forced searchers to suspend operations until this morning...more ups and downs in the east...more snow in Colorado; Vail is about 98% open...two eastern areas with patchy histories opened this weekend, West Mountain NY and Magic Mountain VT...another in that category is Pennsy's Montage Mountain, they're open for the season and today even dropped the ropes on their well-known White Lightning trail, one of the steeper offerings south of New York...snow then rain then snow this weekend in Vermont, but even so Okemo now about 2/3 open, Stratton perhaps a bit more percentage, both looking good...Wildcat NH now about half open...powder in Little Cottonwood Canyon; both Alta and Snowbird serving up epic conditions right now...don't rule out Caberfae Michigan, skiing their version of a nice powder dump this past weekend...the real midwest powder is at Mount Bohemia which did manage to open this weekend as hoped; they went from zero to almost 100%, three feet in seven days, powder still to be found this morning in Outer Limits, Graveyard, and Middle Earth "sections". It's hard to explain this place, you have to visit to fully understand...Men's FIS World Cup Lauberhorn action in Wengen, Saturday's winner Aksel Lund Svindal. Believe it or not that's his first ever victory in the Wengen downhill, albeit shortened for the conditions. Austrians Hannes Reichelt and Klaus Kroell rounded out the podium. The win put Svindal back on top of the mens overall, however precariously. Svindal maintained his lead through yesterday's slalom event, which saw a surprising DNF from Marcel Hirscher. Norway's Henrik Kristoffersen won the technical event, followed by Italians Giuliano Razzoli and Stefano Gross. Ladies meanwhile competing in Giant Slalom in Flachau, Germany's Viktoria Rebensburg prevailed over Slovakia's Ana Drev (her first podium) and Italy's Federica Brignone. Overall leader Lara Gut added slightly to her points total with a 19th place finish, while Lindsey Vonn DNFd during her second run...popular Pacific NW area Anthony Lakes garnered a few inches of fresh overnight, they're firing on all cylinders...Belleayre New York tallying 3" overnight, they're slowly adding terrain...holiday business is brisk today at Virginia's Wintergreen Resort; no snow in the woods but they've done a good job on the slopes...Detroit Free Press reports that lawyers and insurors for Treetops Resort in Gaylord Michigan are getting nowhere in trying to recover costs and losses from the University of Michigan students who vandalized the resort last season. Lawyer for Treetops calling it "a conspiracy of silence"...New Mexico's Ski Apache reporting a record breaking season thus far; spokesman Justin Rowland says the Ruidoso resort will be open through Easter and possibly longer...some closure for one family; body of 65-year-old Bart Pickard found Saturday at Lost Trail Powder Mountain in Montana; he'd been missing since late December...time for a personal shout-out here, after a weekend of football it's only appropriate to celebrate the life of Ted Marchibroda, former player and NFL coach. He steered the Baltimore Colts through an incredibly exciting period in the mid-1970s, shown in the photo below with quarterback Bert Jones and running back Don McCauley. Thanks for the memories....

15 January 2016 Thoughts and prayers with victims and families involved in the Japanese ski bus crash; they were headed for a resort in Nagano...Looks like we need to re-name the Badger Pass ski area in Yosemite National Park as Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area, seems the good people of Delaware North Corporation, operators of the ski area as well as historic lodging such as The Ahwahnee and Curry Village, are claiming that they own the trademarks to those names. They also claim that "Yosemite National Park" is trademarked, but the National Park Service is drawing the line there. DNC is demanding $51 million for the rights, since the NPS recently awarded the operating contracts to competitor Aramark. Delaware North is also claiming to hold the trademark on the names Abraham Lincoln and California. Actually I just made that up but I'm not too far off the target...Men's Alpine Combined in Wengen today, Norway's Kjetil Jansrud took top honors with teammate Aksel Lund Svindal and Frenchman Adrien Theaux rounding out the podium...ladies meanwhile were fighting through the slalom gates in Flachau; Slovakia's Veronika Velez Zuzulova won, and with teammate Petra Vlhova in third they bookended current discipline leader Frida Hansdotter on the podium. American comeback star Resi Stiegler had a tough first run and finished 28th...Five independent ski areas across the country have banded together to create a new organization called The Mountain Playground Group, touting the "authenticity and uniqueness of soulful ski areas." We need more of this! Anyway, member ski areas include Bald Mountain Idaho, Beartooth Basin Montana, Elk Ridge Arizona, Hurricane Ridge Washington, and Mt. Abram in Maine. Plan is to pool marketing resources, that sort of thing. I've been saying this for years, these hidden gem areas offer the best value hands down...shifting gears...Killington Vermont has opened the Bear Peak section...early season numbers in from Vail Resorts has skier visits up 11.1 percent, not including their midwest properties. Vail chief Rob Katz sez that's also taking a huge drop in international guests into account. Other numbers from Vail: A 19.4 percent year-over-year gain in lift ticket revenue at Colorado, Tahoe and Utah resorts; a 14.3 percent gain in dining revenue; 6.7 percent rise in ski school revenue; and a 9.1 percent increase in retail and rental revenue. Let's hope this rising tide lifts all boats...we leave you this weekend with a fun photo of the Arapahoe Basin avy rescue dogs, Sasha and Rio. See you on the slopes!

14 January 2016 Location of yesterday's photo, for those of you keeping score, was none other than Sugarloaf Maine, where the conditions are fabulous of late...ropes dropping all over the east, Windham NY will have both peaks open this weekend...still better west; Jackson Hole looking down the barrel of a storm that'll likely drop up to two feet this weekend...Pennsy's Jack Frost and Big Boulder are opening tomorrow with 100% of terrain, top to bottom border to border. Now these aren't big areas but if you saw what they were facing a couple weeks ago, you'd be impressed too...want to put in a plug here for Bolton Valley VT, January 22, BV will be hosting the Pink Powder Day. Lift tickets will be only $29, $15 of which will be donated to Susan G. Komen VT/NH. Tickets must be purchased in advance by tomorrow, January 15...FIS World Cup downhill training finally underway (after two straight cancellations) in Wengen believe it or not Aksel Lund Svindal quickest down the Lauberhorn...Joe Stevens of the West Virginia Ski Areas Association says "pent up demand" is going to have the state's ski resorts hopping this weekend, claiming the combined snowmaking output has been cranking 20,000 tons per hour. Timberline claiming 31- to 45-inch base on 11 trails, Canaan Valley says 24- to 48-inch base on eight trails, Snowshoe Mountain says 30-inch base on 21 trails, Winterplace offering a 20- to 40-inch base on 17 trails, and small but mighty Oglebay the state's smallest resort has 16- to 22-inch base on a pair of trails. The reason this is so impressive is that Timberline was the only ski area open in WV during Christmas week...spoke too soon on the Picabo Street family affair, she has just been formally charged with assault and domestic violence after pushing her father, 76-year-old Roland Street, down a flight of stairs at her home in Park City on December 23rd. Apparently the family Street got into after pops pulled her hair and bumped her house with his automobile. I tell you when the Streets get into it, stay clear...Montana backcountry skier suffered a compound fracture in an avy near the Lookout Pass ski area, pulled out by fellow skiers and ultimately airlifted to an Idaho hospital.

13 January 2016 Whoooo hoo! The hits keep coming, Mt Waterman in Southern Cal has announced they'll open this weekend for the FIRST TIME SINCE 2011. So all you eastern skiers who are complaining, they're having a hard time hearing you in the San Gabriels...Good news coming so fast from west and east -- well, not all of the east, but much of it -- hard to keep up...Taos now spinning the Kachina Peak lift...Saddleback Maine claims to have hammered out a deal with a prospective buyer, no names yet, a lot of Mainers making guesses and placing bets. The usual suspects lead the odds charts (that's Les Otten and/or Peak Resorts for anyone living in a cave) but my suspicion is somebody new to the biz...Anybody else notice that unprimed Amazon service is slower than a post office parking lot full of Buicks...pleased to report that it's all systems go for Alta Sierra, snowless since 2013, to reopen Friday. Day tripper type area used to be known as Shirley Meadows and is located in the Sequoia National Forest about 50 miles from Bakersfield...and by popular demand we bring back the beloved "where are we at" mystery photo. Don't click on it, if you must you can hover your mouse and the name will give it away...

...and we'll have the answer tomorrow...trade group Colorado Ski Country, which is just about everybody except Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge says business is up about ten percent across its member resorts. One of the member companies, SkiCo says business in Aspen is up thirteen percent...speaking of Colorado Ski Country, if you're a regular reader of this column and you haven't heard of the Colorado GEMS Card, shame on me for not talking about it. This is without question the best deal going. $20 gets you the card, which in turn gets you a two-for-one deal at Ski Cooper, A-Basin, Eldora, Loveland, Monarch, Powderhorn, Granby Ranch and Sunlight resort, all of which in my opinion are terribly underrated and a much better value than monster resorts like the aforementioned Vail or Breck. Just use this link to track one down...snow keeps falling at Snowbird, they're still looking for workers...while we're on the subject of Utah, seems 44-year-old Olympic medalist Picabo Street was arrested in Park City sometime back around Christmas for assaulting a male family member in her home. Apparently the male required minimal treatment and as of now, no charges have been filed...New England making the most of the cold and snow; even southerly Mount Snow VT planning to have something open in each of their trail pods...small but mighty Swain NY looks like a blizzard under blue skies today...Michigan's fabulous Mount Bohemia looking at the weekend for a possible season opening...back to that opening story, regarding Mt Waterman, if you saved any Liftopia tix, vouchers, coupons, groupons or whatever from the past four years, they'll honor 'em. Otherwise, you pay just $50 for a lift ticket. Good deal! We'll leave you today with this happy sight....

12 January 2016 Gun play in the parking lot at Southern California's Snow Valley Resort Saturday afternoon, reports say 37-year-old Anthony Magana of Running Springs, CA was apparently fighting with four individuals when 31-year-old wife Jennifer pulled out a pistol and cranked a few rounds into the air, supposedly to stop the fight. San Bernardino Sheriff's Department is investigating the mess...City of Portage, Wisconsin planning to scale back its "Snow Shuttle Xpress" bus service to Cascade Mountain, said to be losing more than it should. Officials are planning to reduce service during midday hours, and ask Cascade to kick in some bucks since their employees are the primary users...Attorneys for Spartan Race group and Blue Mountain PA seeking to dismiss a negligence suit brought by Raphael Duran of Philadelphia, who broke his leg on some sort of obstacle course race back in July 2013...Cold temps settling in east and midwest, snow here and there but I'm afraid it's too little too late to salvage this season for most areas east of the high plains...Killington for example trying to work their way over to the Bear Mountain base, not sure what they're gonna have there for this all important midseason holiday weekend...head south and it's worse...Pennsy's venerable Elk Mountain turned on the lights for the start of night skiing yesterday; they have all their lit trails open but not a heck of a lot else. Here's a photo from this morning, and while it looks good at first blush I can tell you there are entire trail pods visible at the edges that are rather brown...

...but hey this is our sport and we need to support it, dammit, so eastern and midwest skiers gotta get out there and make those turns...sorry to report that 41-year-old Jonathon Fortin of Wilton, Maine died while XC skiing on a trail system related to the Rangeley Lakes Trail Center...on a brighter note, an unnamed woman lost and exhausted in the Sugar Bowls region between Buttermilk and Snowmass yesterday afternoon was rescued last night and will be ok...World Cup night slalom action just completed in Flachau Austria, Slovakia's Veronika Velez Zuzulova garnered top spot ahead of Swiss racer Wendy Holdener and Czech Republic's Sarka Strachova.

Thanks for joining me here at Ski Bum USA...We'll be doing more work on this site in the days ahead, the idea is that Gondyline will be exclusively devoted to history, lost ski areas, ski collectables, and generally where the sport has been...while Ski Bum USA is devoted to the here and now. Readers of this column deserve my personal thanks with a free USA sticker for your helmet, or your board, or whatever. Just e-mail your mailing address to sticker -at- skibumusa -dot- com and say "send me a Ski Bum USA sticker." They look like this:

Use this to get Lift Tickets at Discount: There is a "clearinghouse" of sorts that many ski areas use to raise cash by selling discount tickets in advance, called Liftopia . If you haven't used this service, it is usually best to know for certain that you are going on a specific date. The deeply discounted tickets must be purchased in advance; generally up to two days out. The sticking point is that some ski resorts only make a limited number of tickets available to Liftopia for any given day, so they might be sold out if you wait too long...so, as soon as you are absolutely, positively sure that you will be skiing on a certain day, click this link to get deeply discounted tickets . I've used this service many times, usually when I am absolutely certain I will be skiing on a specific date. Some resorts offer "flex" tickets with which you can specify the date, and some have a few different tiers of pricing. In other words, you might be able to get a lift ticket that can be used on different days, but you'll pay a little more for that privilege. You need to have access to a printer to print out your receipt, and you have to take identification with you to the mountain. I've knocked a third off -- even half off -- the price of some tickets. Not every area participates, but it's well worth checking before you head to the slopes.

A tiny portion of your Liftopia purchase helps fund this website, at no added cost.

Use this to get Ski & Board Rentals at Discount: If you're traveling to resorts in Colorado or Utah and you don't want to hump your gear through the airport, Breeze Ski Rentals is a convenient alternative with a number of different price levels. You can even bring your own helmet or boots and save a couple bucks if that interests you. Another thing is, they have locations at major resorts, as well as en route. I happen to like their Exit 234 location on I-70 when I'm headed to Summit County. Again, a tiny portion helps fund this website, at no additional cost to you. Breeze rentals.

11 January 2016 So there's this incredible skier, winning races, breaking records, and it barely registers a blip in news reports here in the USA. I'm talking about Lindsey Vonn, who stomped it this weekend in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee Austria. Vonn won both the downhill and the super G events, notching World Cup career wins 72 and 73. Lara Gut finished second in the super G, enough to keep her ahead of Vonn in the overall, even though Gut washed out in the downhill. Canadian Larisa Yurkiw was runner up in the downhill, and Austria's Cornelia Huetter was third in both events. Men meanwhile were left standing around Saturday in Adelboden when the GS was cancelled, but picked it up yesterday with a slalom competition. Norway's Henrik Kristoffersen took the top spot, inching ahead of runner-up Marcel Hirscher in the quest for a slalom globe. Russian Alex Khoroshilov rounded out the podium, again. He's rapidly become a racer to be reckoned with...conditions could be better in Colorado, but I don't know how; fresh stuff keeps falling at Steamboat and they are 100% border to border, top to bottom...Loveland looking to get the Ridge Cat going this week. If you aren't familiar with it, it's a free service they run up on the divide to access the stuff the rest of us watch in highlight films...frustration continues in the east, cold followed by 60 degree temps followed by cold, it's challenging to say the least. Small but mighty Bear Creek in eastern Pennsy finally opened for the season Friday, only to suspend operations on Sunday. Even Sugarloaf Maine, which seemed to be weathering the weather, got a visit from the lift gremlins this weekend. Blown fuse shut down every chair above the Sawduster, leaving some patrons chilling for a couple hours...on the good news front, Missouri's Hidden Valley did indeed open this weekend as hoped...and we're sad to report that the body of missing 25-year-old snowboarder Logan Salviano was found late last week at Vail, another tree well death. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family...Southern California's Mountain High firing on all cylinders right now; business is so strong that a spokesman said they could use another hundred employees. So hey, if you're looking to hit the slopes and make a few bucks, head for Wrightwood...got an e-mail asking me to provide readers with a link to my Instagram thing. I do post occasionally, usually skiing related, sometimes mildly interesting. If you have nothing better to do, here's the linky...the good people who swooped in to rebuild Tenney Mountain in central New Hampshire haven't been rewarded by Mother Nature for their noble efforts. They haven't made any snow yet, but that's ok, no sense blowing it to watch it melt. Downside is they're taking some guff on social media, which is a shame. They ought to be applauded for their efforts, not chided...couple of expansion plans in the early stages, east and west. East, it's Berkshire East in Massachusetts, looking to add a half dozen trails. West, it's Snowbird Utah, aiming to expand into American Fork Canyon with new lifts on property the resort owns. We'll keep you posted as things progress. I have a feeling it may take a while.

7 January 2016 Plans to rebuild/reopen New Hampshire's venerable Balsams Resort in Dixville Notch have inched closer to fruition with approval for a wetlands permit from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. This project, if you haven't heard, is being led by Mr. Les Otten, the man who launched Sunday River into mega resort stature, and then took over a number of resorts nationwide via the now defunct American Skiing Company...FIS World Cup ladies finished today's downhill training run at Altenmarkt-Zauchensee with Liechtenstein's Tina Weirather setting the pace. I make no claims that any of the preceeding "i before e" combinations are correct...The men are now heading to Switzerland, tech events this weekend in Adelboden to be followed next weekend by the Lauberhornrennen...domestically speaking, west coast conditions continue to be stellar, Anthony Lakes for example has 30k of tracked & groomed XC terrain...east coast conditions remain a case of the haves and have nots; mid-sized value resorts are having a tough time getting trails open. One making the most of what they got is New York's Plattekill, they'll be open to the top this weekend. Of course a picture is worth a thousand words, Platty still won't have anything open on their well known "mini front four," here's a look this morning...

...kudos to Plattekill for putting out a good product on their easier hill (at right in the photo above), and serving up reasonably priced tix all season long. These areas are around, all you gotta do is seek them out and be willing to try 'em. The Vails and Killingtons will still be there next week. I'm talking about places like Ski Cooper in Colorado, Beaver in Utah, Blacktail Mountain Montana, Berkshire East in Massachusetts, Montage Pennsylvania, Bolton Valley Vermont, you get the idea. Typical conversation in Frisco Colorado goes something like, "My first time here, we're going to do Vail and Copper, and Rick Bolger recommends Ski Cooper." answered by, "Well that's a smaller area, I wouldn't go there." At this point you might ask, "so you've been there?" And the usual reply -- you guessed it -- is no. In other words, they don't know what they're talking about, they just like paying $140 to ski with the masses and dine in the jam packed bistros at Breckenridge and they think that's what everybody should do. Well I'm telling you, if you're reading this column, you're probably not a fussy person who needs valet parking and a pricey cube of fish served on an oversized plate with weeds being passed off as vegetables. Try the "hidden gem" areas and I guarantee you'll have a good time. And until you've enjoyed the views and the empty slopes and the 100% natural snow at Cooper, you haven't had Colorado's best. You want to ski, or you want to ride a bus from the remote lot? Any questions just drop me an e-mail...back to the news...midwest biggies Boyne and Boyne Highlands report over a foot of fresh since we flipped the calendar...southern Michigan's Swiss Valley opens today, thanks to the snowmaking team...on the other hand, Mount Bohemia, the Mad River Glen of the midwest, got a lot less snow and is still waiting to drop the ropes, spin the lift, run the bus, etc...Stratton VT goes from a dozen trails a week ago to more than 40 this morning...things looking really good up the road a piece at Sugarbush, they've even got people hiking to get the goods on Castlerock...Swain New York opens at 13:00 today...and tough news today out of Wabasha, Wisconsin; Coffee Mill (that's one of my hidden gems) will not open this season. The board explains: "Even if January brings us snow and cool temperatures, the reality is there are not enough weeks left in the ski season to recoup the costs of opening. Projections show that opening at this point would yield a loss of between $30,000 to $50,000. Therefore, it would be fiscally irresponsible for the board to approve the opening of Coffee Mill Ski & Snowboard Area for the 2015/2016 season." Keep the faith folks, we'll wait for better times next season.

6 January 2016 Huzzah! Snow-challenged Alta Sierra in northern California will open next Friday, January 15th after what, two years of being shuttered for no snow? Well it's here, it's happening, and we're happy to report it. Here's the view at Alta Sierra this morning...

...Season looking better and better in the snow-challenged east and midwest...Caberfae Michigan set to expand this weekend with the South Peak opening Friday...Whiteface NY added four trails at noon today...Stratton VT has tripled its trail count in the last week...Mountain Creek NJ opened at noon today...mens World Cup slalom action in Santa Caterina today, Austria's Marcel Hirscher on top, no surprise there. Norway's Henrik Kristoffersen and Russia's Alex Khoroshilov rounded out the podium. Hirscher moved ahead of Aksel Lund Svindal in the overall with the win...and we are pleased to report on World Cup XC action from Obertsdorf Germany where American Sophie Caldwell tallied her first career win yesterday in a 1.2 kilometer classic sprint...one of the unexpected "problems" of mega snows in the Sierras is the lack of available employees; both Sugar Bowl and Donner Ski Ranch were scrambling earlier in the season but appear to be fully staffed now. Donner brought in 60 college students from Peru, who are now on summer break...news just in that Pennsy's Whitetail and Liberty will open tomorrow...word just in Swiss Ladies star Fabienne Suter will miss the downhill action this weekend in Zauchenzee.

5 January 2016 Ladies World Cup slalom action in Santa Caterina today saw Norway's Nina Loeseth claim her first career victory, edging Czech Republic's Sarka Strachova and Slovakia's Veronika Velez Zuzulova. 26-year-old Loeseth had a handful of podiums on her resume prior to today's victory. Congrats Nina! American Resi Steigler's comeback still progressing well, she finished 14th today...more lift news at Heavenly, this incident an 8-year-old girl from Los Gatos CA fell off the Big Blue Express Saturday, she's said to have been injured but not life threatening, glad to hear that...Cannonsburg Michigan will open tomorrow...speaking of chairlift issues, the updated King Pine lift at Sugarloaf Maine reopened yesterday, this was the lift that had a rollback last season that injured seven. Cost to fix the lift at the Boyne-owned resort was reportedly $800,000...not all the news is stellar in the west, industry experts at DestiMetrics say bookings through April are up just 0.7% from last season. December bookings were up 4.4% over last season, but January is trending down about one percent...congratulations to Jeff Morrison, recently appointed Director of Ski Operations at the Otsego Club & Resort in Gaylord, Michigan...bitter cold temps settled across most of the east today, snowmaking powerhouses like Hunter NY more than doubled their trail count, virtually overnight...in Pennsy Blue Mountain scheduled to open Thursday, and Pocono fave Shawnee (not to be confused with the Maine resort of the same name) is scheduled to open tomorrow. Here's what Shawnee looks like this morning...

...that's on the bunny hill; guns going everywhere on the mountain...Vermont areas looking to expand terrain, for esample Killington has guns going on the Needle's Eye section...midwest looks good if you're up north, not as good but improving in the lower reaches. Paoli Peaks Indiana set to open today. They had the guns on before last weekend, but humidity was too high and the man made snow came out crappy. A little bit of explanation here, around the freezing mark the humidity plays an equally important factor in snowmaking. Consider Indiana's average evening humidity is about 50%, it is possible to make snow at 32 degrees F but it will be crap. Reality is you need temps of 24F or lower to make decent snow with 50% humidity. Contrast that with a place like Colorado's Loveland, for example, where an average evening humidity of 34% enables them to make crappy snow at about 35F, and excellent snow at about 26F. Now back to Indiana. If you've got high humidity for a few days, let's say 80%, you need temps below 29F to even consider snowmaking. But at that humidity level, air temp really has to be below 22F to get good quality snow. This all varies with the equipment; fan guns work better at higher temperatures than a regular snow gun. At the frigid temperatures gripping the east today, resorts with a number of ground guns and sufficient personnel tend to have more flexibility and can add terrain quickly. Point is, the smart operators are piling it on right now...Connecticut police have arrested 20-year-old Ralph Baldelli and 20-year-old Terrance Edwards of Winsted, CT for a recent burglary at Mohawk Mountain. A third suspect remains at large; cops say they know who it is...Jay Peak VT about half open, conditions are spectacular there....and we'll wrap up with a report on the valleys hidden, keystone and show-me...Hidden Valley Pennsylvania says they'll open Thursday...

...that's two Pennsylvania photos on the same day, which, aside from being overkill, is a first for SkiBumUSA...positive news also from Hidden Valley Missouri, they finally got snowmaking started last night. HV/MO would've been able to start sooner, but that horrible flooding in the region forced them to postpone. They're going to open for the season at 9:00 AM Saturday, we're pleased to say.

4 January 2016 Happy New Year...still not happy in much of the east, nor in Munich where the FIS World Cup city event was cancelled; the white circus moves to Santa Caterina, Italy tomorrow for mens and womens slalom races...North Bowl chairlift on indefinite hold at Heavenly in Lake Tahoe; an unoccupied chair fell off the lift yesterday and some 65 passengers had to be roped down. Fortunately there were no injuries -- kudos to Heavenly ski patrol for the safe evac...Ohio's Boston Mills set to open this afternoon with very limited terrain...Central New York's Song Mountain and Greek Peak opened yesterday, nearby Toggenburg still to open...Western Pennsy's Seven Springs open, Hidden Valley and Boyce Park set to open sometime this week. In the eastern part of the Keystone State (actually a Commonwealth) Jack Frost open on a half dozen trails. Camelback has the guns on and they'll resume operations later this week...11-year-old boy fell off a chairlift at Ragged Mountain New Hampshire Saturday afternoon. He fell about 25 feet but will be ok...33-year-old Michael Nessl of Sonora, CA went off the map at Powder Mountain Utah on Friday afternoon, attempted to hike back but became exhausted and dug a snow pit for protection from the elements. Rescuers found him during the night, freezing in single digit temps but generally safe...here's an interesting item, New York's Titus Mountain is offering a free lift ticket to anybody with a valid 2015-2016 season pass to another alpine ski resort that is currently still closed for the season but plans on opening at some point. "We're all in this together," says Chris Monette, co-owner of Titus...pleased to report that Bolton Valley Vermont now open, photo from this morning...

...unfortunately news not as good at another one of the big little Vermont resorts, Magic Mountain in Londonderry still shuttered...across the river in New Hampshire, Black Mountain open, running their triple chair. I'm always pleased to report on these type places; not as glamorous as the big names but usually way ahead in terms of value...and there's no new info on Bart Pickard, the 65-year-old Corvallis man who was last seen at Lost Trail Powder Mountain MT on December 22; search has been called off and the consensus is he probably fell in a tree well...pleased to report things looking much better in the midwest, Como Park near the Twin Cities finally open with groomed XC trails.

29 December 2015 With a few rare exceptions the holiday week has been a disaster in the east, and with a few exceptions it's been fantastic in the west...FIS World Cup action, the ladies are in Lienz for technical events, Swiss star Lara Gut won the GS yesterday, Swede Frida Hansdotter took the slalom today. Men meanwhile were in Santa Caterina for a downhill, won by Frenchman Adrien Theaux. On the overall leader boards we've got Gut and Aksel Lund Svindal. January 1st the guys and gals will be going side by side in the Munich City Event...deadline looms for CNL Lifestyle Properties real estate trust to sell a bunch of resorts including Sunday River and Sugarloaf in Maine, Loon and Sunapee in New Hampshire, Okemo in Vermont, Crested Butte in Colorado, Brighton in Utah and Sierra-at-Tahoe in California. We little people will hardly be affected by these big money maneuverings; the lease deals will remain in effect. In other words, the Muellers will still be operating Sunapee, Okemo and Crested Butte; Boyne will still be operating Sugarloaf, the Riv and Brighton, etc. so it really won't affect what we experience on the hills...our thoughts and prayers are with a worker who fell 25 feet at Black Mountain NH; he was working on a lift at the time. Word thus far is the injuries are not life threatening...nearby Attitash finally open top to bottom on two peaks, however there are some grumblings from employees who are being asked not to use their passes in order to save the snow for guests...speaking of Peak Resorts, seems Mount Snow finally getting some frozen precip but not exactly what they want; icing has the bluebird chair on hold this morning. To Sneaux's credit they did manage to reopen a novice route from the summit...and today we wrap it up appropriately with a salute to the legendary Stein Eriksen, Olympic Champion, World Champion, skiing ambassador, and unquestionably the most stylish skier of all time. There is Stein, and then there are the rest of us.

...thank you Stein, for showing us what a skier should be.

24 December 2015 Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday greetings to all. Photo from Sugarloaf Maine this morning reminds us, let's be thankful for what we do have...

23 December 2015 Blowtorch moving through much of the midwest, definitely blasting the east...northern areas in the midwest like Lutsen and Wild Mountain Minnesota and Ski Brule on the UP are all holding their own; Brule is somewhere around 75% open...eastern ares have just said enough is enough and some are planning to open this weekend come hell or high water, probably both. Places like Bolton Valley Vermont and Jiminy Peak Massachusetts and Titus Mountain and Plattekill New York just stockpiled snow during the recent freeze, now letting it sit in piles until the weekend. Then they'll push it around and hopefully get something skiable for the holiday week. Whatever happens, it's pretty much going to suck. Even venerable Bromley VT has suspended operations until the 26th....to their credit, New York's Whiteface is doing something about it; if you buy a lift ticket during these grim times you'll get a free return voucher. That's cool...remote Black Mountain of Maine is now calling for a December 30th opening...I guess the icing on the cake is today's news flash from Sugarbush promoting a kids "Schoolhouse Adventure Camp" showing two squeaky clean kids hiking in a forest completely devoid of snow, and one of the kids isn't even wearing a hat or gloves...west the news is pretty much good and only good; Snowbird Utah checking in with 18" in the last 24 hours...elsewhere in the Beehive State, Powder Mountain set to open Hidden Lake and Sunrise sections today...and in Colorado, Arapahoe Basin planning to drop the ropes on Montezuma Bowl sometime today, that's fantastic...can't go anywhere in Summit County today without somebody talking about Breckenridge Brewery selling out to AB/In-Bev. Complaint being, hey, our beer is going corporate. Well guess what folks, you got one of the most "corporate" ski areas around, so this shouldn't faze you at all...horrible news out of Jackson Hole where 25-year-old Kelsey Hewitt died in a tree well yesterday. Ms. Hewitt was a resort employee who recently relocated from Portland, Oregon. Please please please do not ski in tree wells. This is the second death reported at JHMR this season. Snowboarder Callagy Ross, 23, died Dec. 7...search for backcountry skier Monty Busbee, missing near Snoqualmie Pass Washington, has been suspended due to poor weather conditions. 43-year-old Busbee left the Summit West parking lot around 10 AM Saturday...and you've certainly heard about a camera drone crashing down and just missing one of the world's best skiers, he being Marcel Hirscher, and drones are now banned from FIS World Cup competition. It was potentially very very dangerous...and this just in, Wisp Maryland says it will open Saturday.

21 December 2015 Biggest news by far, a new ski area set to open today, that is Cherry Peak in northern Utah...Snow continues to pound much of the west, Jackson Hole tram and the new Teton lift are now open for the season...Pac NW Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort snowing hard this morning...Colorado's Steamboat has passed the 100" mark already...snowing this morning at Arapahoe Basin...and looking east, the snowmakers had a window this past weekend and seemed to make the most of it; a lot of places we hadn't heard from managed to get something going. At Holiday Valley New York and Blue Mountain Pennsylvania and Winterplace West Virginia they opened with white ribbons as you might expect. Others like Shawnee Pennsy managed to squeak open with a learning area tow, that sort of thing. Bristol New York opened the Sunset run for experts...Still others like Attitash NH and Jiminy Peak Mass were closed but had guns lit up like a blizzard. Same deal at NY's Plattekill and Hunter in the Catskills; both are targeting 12/26 to open...I continue to be impressed by Vermont's Okemo this season; they took advantage of the cold to open the Jackson Gore section of the resort...move a little bit right of center and the news was surprisingly positive, however briefly, Boston Mills/Brandywine Ohio and Paoli Peaks Indiana cranked it out and cranked customers up the hill; they're shut down now, waiting and hoping...FIS World Cup name you need to know from the ladies' competition this past weekend: Lara Gut. The rising Swiss starlet kicked it off in Val d'Isere with a win in the Alpine Combined by 1/100th of a second over Lindsey Vonn, with Austrian Michaela Kirchgasser third. Action continued Saturday with the Downhill, also won by Gut, with a harrowing near crash for Vonn. Swiss skier Fabienne Suter and Canadian Larisa Yurkiw were second and third, that was Yurkiw's second career podium. Ladies moved to the Courchevel piste yesterday for a GS race won by Austria's Eva-Marie Brem, with Norwegian Nina Loeseth second and Gut third. Vonn tried to regroup following Saturday near disaster, managed a respectable 13th but that allowed Gut to leap ahead in the overall...men meanwhile were in Val Gardena Italy for a Norwegian Super G event, in other words, Aksel Lund Svindal, Kjetil Jansrud, and Aleks Aamodt Kilde swept for the Norsemen. American Andrew Weibrecht showed up a respectable 4th. Saturday it was more of the same, with Svindal and Jansrud sandwiching Frenchman Guillermo Fayed in second. US newcomer Bryce Bennett of Squaw Valley came in sixth and may be someone to reckon with in a year or so. Yesterday the gents moved to tech events at Alta Badia, GS won by Marcel Hirscher with Norway's Henrik Kristoffersen and Frenchman Victor Muffat-Jeandet just off the pace. Ted Ligety was fourth. Once the dust settled, Hirscher moved 20 points ahead of Svindal in the overall. Tough news Friday, Austrian great Matthias Mayer crashed in the Val Gardena downhill, suffered fracture of the 6th and 7th thoracic vertebra. The reigning Olympic Downhill champ will be out for the balance of the season...today the men continue in Alta Badia with a new, multi-round Parallel Giant Slalom in which the 32 best racers will compete head to head in bracket racing to determine the ultimate winner. This is a first for this specific type of event. The courses are virtually identical; using GPS the organizers say that the difference between the two tracks is less than a centimeter...sorry to report that a 51-year-old man died after falling into a tree well at the Summit at Snoqualmie yesterday, he was skiing in the Silver Fir Lodge area...update from Western Maine's currently shuttered Saddleback Resort, apparently close to a deal with a new owner and optimistic about opening in late January. In the meantime the Berry family is offering a variety of refund options for passholders; kudos to them for making good on those.

18 December 2015 So it isn't all gloom and doom east of the Rockies...Ski Brule on the Upper Peninsula has a bunch of open trails, snowmaking on more, and four lifts spinning...Wild Mountain Minnesota enjoying the cold and the snow and they've got 70% of the hill open...Terry Peak South Dakota (that's kind of a 'tweener) has a few lifts going, it's all good there...and cold sllooowwwly returning to most of New England, Stratton has the guns back on and they'll be doing some sort of grand opening whiz bang tomorrow for their umpteenth addition to the old base lodge. Hey, let's not complain, it means business is good and they need the room...Bolton Valley Vermont now talking about opening sometime right after Christmas. Problem is temps are yo-yoing, even in their chilly clime...also glad to report that West Mountain New York looking to open terrain on the 23rd, no promises but they are trying...and back from the dead, Ascutney Vermont property now transferred to some sort of open space land trust, they've put up a new rope tow and they'll be spinning it for locals this winter. The rest of us too -- as I say with all these little town tow areas, stop by, buy a ticket. If the skiing is free, give 'em a donation...meanwhile the west gets richer and richer, here's the morning scene at Alta yesterday, notice the crowds at the ticket window... ...back later with a full report on World Cup action. Think snow! Unless you're at Alta. Then you don't need to think at all!

16 December 2015 New Englanders fondly remember the days when it used to snow in December, and you didn't hear from presidential candidates until March. Personally I think the two are related...anyway not all horrible in New England, glimpse of low temps last night enabled Killington to restore top-to-bottom routes...not surprising the best skiing in the east right now is at Sugarloaf, looking good this morning... ...after 130 fan guns blasting overnight, as well as an inch or so of natural snow, definitely improving the mood in Central Maine...pleased to report an Idaho skiers who went out of bounds at Tamarack and got lost Sunday was found, alive and well in a snow cave he dug...great news out of northern California/Southern Oregon: Mt Shasta Ski Park is set to open tomorrow, for the first time since last December. Meanwhile up by Crater Lake NP, Mt Ashland will also open tomorrow, they were also shuttered last season. Well, they may have opened for a day or two but it was pretty grim. Let's hope our eastern skiers aren't getting the same turn this season.

15 December 2015 The good, the bad, the ugly...good is as good as it gets; in Utah Snowbird checking in with a foot of fresh this morning, 7" new snow at Powder Mountain, which is on limited operations for early season...Colorado stalwarts Arapahoe Basin and Loveland reporting 8" overnight...elsewhere in Colorado the Sunshine Bowl opens today and Morningside tomorrow...Washington continues to have a great season, except White Pass, still unreachable due to the demolished road. Another slide briefly closed Snoqualmie Pass yesterday (the road, not the resort) but that's clear and reopened. Real glad to report that once again Mt Baker ski area, (not actually on Mt. Baker) has reclaimed its title as snowiest ski area in the nation, the 43" they got over a few days this past weekend brings the season total to 188", with 117" of settled snow on Pan Dome...bad is the news from Mikaela Shiffrin's camp, MCL injury indeed a tear and no telling when she'll be back in action. Word from Mikaela is "I have bone bruising and an MCL tear. I know lots of people are anxious to predict when I might return to skiing and then racing, but we just don't have any crystal balls. I will work as hard as possible, take it week by week and keep everyone updated." So no predictions here, other than, it sucks...more bad, our thoughts are with a backcountry skier seriously injured in a Blaine County Idaho avalanche, an area known to locals as Baldy Out Of Bounds. Sawtooth Avalanche Center says the skier was buried two feet under snow after being slammed into a tree. His buddy dug him out quickly, but the damage was done, condition is quite serious...Federal judge has decided that a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of 16-year-old German exchange student Niclas Waschle, who fell into a tree well at Whitefish Mountain Resort, will proceed to jury trial. Suit alleges that Whitefish provided no warnings about the dangers of tree wells. Waschle suffocated in a tree well near T-bar 2 at Whitefish on December 29, 2010...reminder if you see powder around the base of a tree, there's a reason it's still there...and now the ugly, which as you can guess rhymes with "east" right about now...Boston Mills/Brandywine Ohio no longer talking about opening date, they're just waiting right now. As a point of reference, BM/BW opened January 1st last season, so it isn't too terrible yet...Holiday Valley is Western New York's biggie, they're promoting birthday parties right now because their slopes look like this... ...ugh...Bolton Valley Vermont also backing down on any and all opening day predictions, they're saying simply that they'll open when they can...even the mighty Killington is no longer top-to-bottom; they've got a miasma of snow and muck but we give them props for fighting the good fight...Central Pennsy's Tussey Mountain Resort says this isn't anything unusual for them, they hope to open by New Year's...same deal at Chestnut Mountain in Galena Illinois...over the river in Dubuque, Sundown Mountain Resort made snow a few weeks ago but it's down to a few sparse piles. Still, GM Mark Gordon is hopeful the forecasted cold front will enable them to turn things around by December 19th. For what it's worth, Sundown's latest opening ever was February 1st, 1974...and in Dixie it seems West Virginia's Snowshoe Resort somehow managed to drop the ropes on four trails this past Friday, but they're shut down again...if I may borrow from Horace Greeley, go west young man!

14 December 2015 First off, crazy weather in the Pacific NW means great snow, unless you're trying to get to White Pass in Washington State, where heavy rains near Mount Rainier caused slides and tore out chunks of US Highway 12, not sure when it will reopen...Lots to catch up on...snow continues to pile up in the west while flowers bloom in the east...US World Cup star Mikaela Shiffrin skipped the events in Are Sweden and flew home after a crash during warm up skiing, it's believed she has an "injured" MCL (that's a knee ligament if you're fortunate enough not to know) and will likely be out for at least a few weeks. Swedish skier Sara Hector not so lucky, she crashed during the GS event Saturday and needs reconstructive something or other for patella cartilage, out for the season...meanwhile on the piste, Petra Vlhova won the slalom yesterday, it was the first career win for the Slovakian racer. She was joined on the podium by Sweden's Frida Hansdotter and Norwegian Nina Loeseth. Resi Steigler's umpteenth comeback continues with a respectable 18th place, if she can somehow someway stay healthy we'll see her on the podium this season. On Saturday the incredible Lindsey Vonn continued her winning ways, this time winning a Giant Slalom which is definitely not her best discipline, but there it is. Austrian Eva-Maria Brem and Italian Federica Brignone were runners up. Right now Vonn leads Hansdotter in the overall...men meanwhile were in Val d'Iseres where it was all about Marcel Hirscher who mostly stomped it, winning the GS Saturday and finishing second in the slalom yesterday to Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen. Yesterday saw Germany's Felix Neureuther third, with American David Chodounsky a distant but still impressive fourth. GS podium was Hirscher, Neureuther, and Frenchman Victor Muffat-Jeandat...World Cup action continues with speed events mid-week; stay tuned...back to that terrible weather pattern in the east, have hopes it will change by this weekend. At that point the mainstay resorts will be able to rebuild the stuff that is melting now, and the second-tier areas will finally be able to get something going. Magic Mountain Vermont, for example, has pushed any chance of opening until at least December 26th...Pacific NW skiers getting the goods that the Northeast got last season; here's the view yesterday morning from Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort in Oregon, they've even got 30 kilometers of cross country skiing open... ...I don't really know what 30 kilometers is, but it sure sounds better than the zero kilometers east of the Rocky Mountains...NW small but mightys like Mt Ashland and Hoodoo are even open...tell you how good it is in Colorado, Pallavicini now open at Arapahoe Basin, 10" fresh overnight, as they say in Boston, "so good, so good"...Denverites singing the praises of the new toll lane on I-70 which uses the left shoulder and can cut up to a half hour off the trip...considering the brutal weather in the east, it isn't all gloom and doom, Okemo managed to have quite a bit of terrain this past weekend, and New York's Hunter opened Friday...whatever you do, go west: even resorts in eastern Japan are at the mercy of El Nino.

7 December 2015 Happy Hannukah...and we remember Pearl Harbor Day today...and on the snow, World Cup action we had front row seats this weekend for two of the best skiers of not only this era but of all time...men in Beaver Creek, began Friday with a one-two punch of two of the top speedsters, Norwegians Aksel Lund Svindal and Kjetil Jansrud finishing one-two, Frenchman Guillermo Fayed third. Saturday the second "speed" event -- Super G but it was a more technical course, really, with defending overall champ Marcel Hirscher finishing ahead of Americans Ted Ligety and Andrew Weibrecht. Technical argument aside, this was Hirscher's first Super G win and I can tell you if this guy starts winning speed events he would be unbeatable and could become the best all time... ...Yesterday Ligety crashed in the GS so of course Hirscher won that too. Victor Muffat-Jeandet of France and Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen rounded out the podium. Right now Svindal has the lead on Hirscher for the overall, but I don't think he can maintain it; the Norseman begged off yesterday's competition due to illness. Getting old sucks indeed...meanwhile the ladies were in Lake Louise and yes Lindsey Vonn was healthy and competing so you really don't need to know much more. After three days of speed events, Lindsey added three wins to her resume. Only other result of note, definitely notable, 23-year-old Austrian Conny Huetter was on the podium with the great one for all three races. Prior to this weekend Huetter had just one podium which was a downhill in 2013, so remember that name...notable change this season is the addition of Bode Miller doing color for NBC Sports. He obviously knows his stuff...CNL Lifestyle Properties REIT at that stage where they need to liquidate their properties, as such Bretton Woods and the Mount Washington Hotel were just sold to Omni International for about $90 million bucks; Omni has been leasing the property from CNL...Bill Jensen, guy who ran Intrawest for about six years and has been around the biz for a bunch more, just joined Telluride as CEO and partner...$365 million expansion at New York's Belleayre cleared another hurdle last week...conditions continue to suck in the east but are stellar in most of the west; even low altitude Summit At Snoqualmie expected to open by the end of this week...Q Burke Resort (that's Burke Mountain's legal name now) in Northern Vermont having trouble finishing their new mega hotel at the base, they won't open until December 18th now. Booked guests can request a refund, or can move their reservation to nearby sister resort Jay Peak...skiing life is just as grim in Michigan, every area with the exception of Ski Brule will be shuttered for the work week...and finally, our thoughts and prayers are with a 9-year-old girl who was airlifted to hospital yesterday after a ski accident at Nakiska Ski Resort, she remains in critical condition.

4 December 2015 Early season conditions in Colorado simply fantastic right now, the A-Team checking in from Winter Park this morning with this bluebird day photo... ...east and midwest? Not so much. A few bright spots, if the Upper Peninsula in early December can be called a "bright spot" (which I doubt) then you're in good shape at places like Ski Brule...eastern operators with high tech snow making equipment are scraping by, barely. Vermont's regulars like Killington, Okemo, Stratton have a route or two thanks to their man made tech. Even Bromley plans to open this weekend with a trail or two. A bit of snow fell on the spine of the Green Mountains this morning, so that's good anyway...elsewhere? A mixed bag...New York's Windham is offering a couple of free hike-to features this weekend...meanwhile Hunter is telling its passholders to go make turns at newly related Mount Snow, which I guess is a pretty good benefit to having your traditional family-owned mountain bought out by a regional powerhouse...upstate New York West Mountain ribbon cutting today for their new chairlift, fireworks and live music to follow, winter follows somewhere in the future...in the Berkshires Jiminy Peak will run a couple lifts this weekend...believe it or not, Pennsylvania's Big Boulder will spin a lift this weekend, which is impressive considering the temps...so at least it doesn't suck everywhere...back to Colorado, so much snow that Loveland now open for uphill skinning and hiking, just remember you need a free uphill access pass. Big L hosting a pretty cool telemark, AT and splitboard demo event on Sunday, pretty cool if you're into that kind of thing...out by Aspen, hidden gem Sunlight Mountain Resort opens this weekend, which is ahead of schedule...and Ski Cooper down in Leadville will be open Saturday and Sunday, close Monday, and then open for the season next weekend as scheduled. It's Colorado and life is good...also better -- much better -- than the past few seasons in Oregon, Mount Bachelor, Mount Hood Meadows, Timberline Lodge and Anthony Lakes all open with at least two lifts each this weekend. Think Snow!

30 November 2015 Missouri's Peak Resorts just bought Hunter in New York's Catskills for $36.8 million...FIS World Cup action this weekend, two names you need to know are Aksel Lund Svindal and Mikaela Shiffrin. Men's speed events in Lake Louise Canada downhill and super G both won by Svindal; USA's Travis Ganong showed his mettle with third and fourth place finishes respectively. Italian speedster Peter Fill was second and third respectively. If you're good at math you are already thinking, ok that leaves one podium spot, which went to Austria's Matthias Mayer. Meanwhile in Aspen Ladies tech events on Ruthie's, GS Friday went to Swiss star Lara Gut, followed by Austria's Eva-Marie Brem and Italy's Federica Brignone. Saturday's slalom the nod went to Shiffrin, who blistered the course by 3.07 seconds combined time ahead of runner up Veronika Velez Zuzulova of Slovakia. That's the largest margin ever recorded in World Cup ladies slalom. Swede Frida Hansdotter was third. Yesterday the ladies were back on the slalom hill, this time a make-good for the cancelled event in Levi Finland a couple weeks ago. Shiffrin again, this time beating Hansdotter with Czech Sarka Strachova in third. But for a bobble early in the second run, Shiffrin might have broken her own record -- as it was her combined time was an astonishing 2.65 ahead of Hansdotter. Unbelievable...up-and-down weather pattern in the east and midwest, but the resorts that are open are used to this sort of thing and are dealing with it per the usual...Michigan's Mt Holly, Pine Knob, Alpine Valley, Mt Brighton, Nub's Nob all opened last week or over the weekend, closed now after heavy rains. Nub's hopes to be open this coming weekend. Upper Peninsula Ski Brule open with a bunch and blowing more...eastern news, Edinboro Pennsylvania's Mount Pleasant looking forward to the upcoming season with a Riblet triple replacing one of the surface lifts...Big Steve checking in from Whiteface yesterday, skiing off the gondy and pointing to the summit... ...I can't make out what he's saying but it looks like "a few more inches and the slides will be perfect." We'll check back with Steve as the season progresses...Vermont's Stratton now open top to bottom...regret to report that 21-year-old skier Natalie Altieri of Ohio is the first known fatality of this early season, died yesterday after crashing into a metal stairway at Bear Mountain Resort in Southern California. Miss Altieri was a University of Cincinnati fashion design student interning in Los Angeles; our thoughts and prayers are with her family...meanwhile backcountry skier Liam Walsh still missing somewhere around Hatcher Pass Alaska; the 33-year-old Wasilla anesthesiologist was last heard from on November 22nd...Maine's Portland Press Herald reports that Saddleback passholders who bought those super deals last spring for 2015-16 are likely holding the bag, as the big hill is unlikely to open this winter...western New York biggie Holiday Valley hoping for a Thanksgiving opening got hammered by rain, now talking about December 5th opening...pleased to report that Nevada's Lee Canyon opened Friday, this is the re-renamed Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort up on Mt. Charleston.

25 November 2015 Ohio's highly regarded Clear Fork Ski Resort has new owners following foreclosure, and regret to say they're changing the name to "Clear Fork Adventure Resort" whatever that means. Actually it means they plan to offer all sorts of things in addition to skiing, which unfortunately often leads to the discontinuation of skiing at some smaller areas. Let's hope that's not the case here...what a difference a year makes: Mt Hood Meadows now running with two lifts, Timberline spinning Bruno's and Pucci, and Mt. Bachelor running a trio of lifts. Bach will be closed tomorrow, to kind of regroup for the "official" season opening on Friday...Surprise from the banana belt, Pennsy's Big Boulder is going to spin lifts for a couple of parks on Friday, they're serving up $20 tix or will give you one for a food or toy donation of a $20 value. So you can juggle 20 cans or bring two sawbucks...New York's Whiteface will open tomorrow...New Hampshire's Loon opened nicely today with top-to-bottom...Vermont neighbors Bromley and Stratton both say they'll open Saturday. I'm looking at their weather forecast and wondering if that makes much sense...some of the "hidden gem" type New England resorts fired up their snowguns with the cold weather this week, notables include Catamount Massachusetts and Bolton Valley in Vermont; here's the scene yesterday at Bolton... ...I think they're talking December 5th or 12th or something like that, which makes sense if you think about the exorbitant costs of opening in November...Minnesota's Hyland Hills opens Friday; they'll be joining Buck Hill which opened this past weekend...neglected to report that Southern Colorado's fabulous Purgatory Resort opened for the season this past weekend, first season under new ownership of local James Coleman Jr., and by all reports Purgy fans are enjoying the honeymoon so far. You may recall this was renamed Durango Mountain Resort a few years back, which confused the hell out of me...Idaho gets things moving this weekend, mostly, Pomerelle and Sun Valley will open tomorrow, Schweitzer spins the Basin Express Quad Friday with $40 tix, Brundage will open Easy Street on Saturday with free lift tickets. It ain't much, but it's better than a kick in the pants. Bogus Basin just made the call today, they'll open Friday. Beyond that, Tamarack will come on line December 11th, which is good considering the alternative that resort was dealing with over the past couple seasons...and Park City will open Vail Resorts' newly merged mega monstrosity on Saturday....Happy Thanksgiving one and all! see you on the slopes...think snow!

24 November 2015 And we're getting to it, roster of open areas continues to expand...checking with Dixie, both Sugar Mountain Resort and Cataloochee open and doing well, although the Cat is only going to mid-station at this point, still better than a kick in the pants...Vermont's Mount Snow will open Thursday serving terrain from the summit six pack and the Carinthia section via the old double...Jackson Hole opens for their 50th season on Friday...Colorado's super-close and underrated Eldora Mountain Resort opened this past weekend with outstanding conditions, here's a look at their bluebird weather this morning... ...loking back east, Sunday River Maine adding terrain, they're planning to drop ropes on Barker and South Ridge tomorrow with Aurora to follow Thursday...quick flight to California now, Boreal enjoying a real old fashioned Donner Party style snowstorm (sans the cannibals) and they'll be spinning lifts until 9:00 pm today...New Mexico's Taos sez they'll open Thanksgiving Day; they have a nice bunch of natural and manmade ready...avys already causing trouble in Summit County, backcountry skier on the east ridge of Bald Mountain (near Breckenridge) partially buried in a slide this weekend, suffered multiple injuries and airlifted out. Avalanches also reported on the 2nd Steep Gully west of Arapahoe Basine as well as one near Loveland Pass...speaking of earn-your-turns folks, tracks sighted yesterday and this morning on Western New York's Holiday Valley, which is scheduled to open December 4th. Three inches of natural on the ground at nearby HoliMont, which will fire up the guns at the end of the month and open December 12...and in Massachusetts Jiminy Peak in the Berkshires will open for the season on Friday.

23 November 2015 Cold temps and spots of snow and the midwest and east are really getting in the game now...Michigan's usual early bird Ski Brule opened yesterday, while Caberfae Peaks got snow from Mother Nature and the compressor driven variety...Granite Peak near Wausau WI is looking good and will open Friday....Lutsen is now scheduling Thanksgiving Day to spin 'em, with the ribbon cutting for the new gondy on Friday...even the mid-Atlantic Banana Belt getting in on the action, a bit of natural snow overnight creating excitement around Montage in Pennsy, and in Virginia the guns are on at Wintergreen, looks something like this... ...meanwhile, New Englaond biggie Okemo opens tomorrow, serving up a collection of trails that probably equals one white ribbon of death with Lower World Cup trail as the main route...guns on up high at Cannon Mountain...tenacious new operators of lost area Tenney in New Hampshire continue to make progress toward reopening part of the mountain in December...Wildcat sez gonna open Wednesday...Killington has turned the guns on all over the Snowdon hill, trying to get top-to-bottom in time for the holiday, looks like this: ...and in the Empire State, the trio of stated-owned areas Belleayre, Whiteface and Gore all firing snow guns...closest-with-the-mostest Mount Snow in Southern VT blowing top to bottom, they plan to open Wednesday...looking west, Snowbird had a terrific opening...skiers and riders on the lift line at Copper Mountain Saturday may have noticed a crowd gathering; those who bothered to check it out were pleasantly surprised to find two of the best skiers on the planet, Mikaela Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn speaking to a small group of fans followed by a meet & greet at the US Ski Team naming ceremony, here's a photo... ...as far as the names named, I guess the most notable notables were Bode Miller and Julia Mancuso, who will miss this season but remain on the team. Miller taking a year off, Mancuso slated for hip surgery. Other names include Bryce Astle and Ronnie Berlack, named to the team posthumously following their death in an avalanche back in January. Here's the Men's A-Team: David Chodounksy, Travis Ganong, Tim Jitloff, Ted Ligety, Bode Miller, Steven Nyman, Marco Sullivan, Andrew Weibrecht. And the Women's A-Team Stacey Cook, Julia Mancuso, Alice McKennis, Laurenne Ross, Mikaela Shiffrin, Leanne Smith, Resi Stiegler, Lindsey Vonn. A few notables on the B Teams include Tommy Ford, Nolan Kasper, and Jared Goldberg. And you won't find this in the US Ski Team press book, Robert "Sandy" Vietze is back on the squad, this time on the "National University Team" representing the University of Vermont. Mr. Vietze's first go around with the US Ski Team's Development Squad came to a rather damp end in 2011 when the then-teenager peed on the floor during a Jet Blue redeye from Portland OR to JFK. Vietze had a bunch of beer, a couple rum and cokes, and was awakened at 2:30 AM during the flight when the father of a 12-year-old girl was screaming at him. NY Port Authority Police arrested Vietze for peeing on the girl, the still pissed-off dad said no, he merely peed on the floor -- it was the display that enraged him.1 Well, regardless of the specifics, we're glad Mr. Vietze has overcome the recklessness of his youth and is back on the team.

20 November 2015 OK finally game on in the midwest! Far as we know Wild Mountain Minnesota is first to roll, they opened this morning...more to follow, certainly a bunch of snow headed for the heartland...Colorado booming; A-Basin got Molly Hogan lift going this morning, adding beginner terrain to an already decent product mix...Sugarloaf Maine will indeed open tomorrow morning, they'll spin for the weekend, then go to morning only hours, then resume full operations over the holiday...not all is good in Maine; New England Ski History.com reports that Saddleback is looking more and more like a non-entity this season...Loon NH has announced a Wednesday opening...seems Wildcat NH has a new website; usually I could care less but this one looks good without all the spinning and moving crap...Arizona Snow Bowl opened this morning, hey how about that!...Eldora Colorado also today, with some nice terrain, and snowguns on for more to come.

19 November 2015 Snow continues to pound the Rockies, Wasatch, etc., Brighton opened yesterday...in Colorado, Eldora, Monarch and Vail open tomorrow; Steamboat on Saturday, well ahead of schedule. Steamboat sez this is their first early opening in thirteen years; they'll shut down Monday and reopen Wednesday for the season...Aspen Mountain (Ajax), Purgatory and Snowmass also open Saturday...California's Sugar Bowl will open this weekend, close Monday, then reopen on Thanksgiving....speaking of sweet, Sugarloaf Maine had the guns on earlier this week, working on the Candyside/Tote Road route, they're trying to open Saturday but no word if that's going to happen, they'll let us know tomorrow...New England's other sweet hill, Sugarbush has announced opening day will be a week from today, Thanksgiving in other words. Maybe require up and down loading, have to wait and see. During the off season Sugarbush replaced the old Valley House Double with a new Doppelmayr Quad...Quebec news, Ski Bromont and Mont Saint-Sauveur have created the "Option Northeast" which allows passholders of one to ski the other for $20 or something like that. This is believed to be the first time in history that any of the Quebec ski hills have had any kind of cooperative pass offering...kudos to south/central Pennsy area Roundtop, they buried electrical lines on four key slopes, creating a more "natural" appearance to enjoy on the hill...other Pennsy news, Montage says they're gonna fire up the guns this weekend...World Cup News, sorry to report that 39-year-old former Slovenia slalom skier Drago Grubelnik, was head coach of the Bulgarian team, died in a car crash Tuesday in Austria near Soelden. Grubelnik participated in three Olympics and had one career podium finish at Wengen in 2000. Bulgarian skier Albert Popov and assistant coach Dimitar Hristov are hospitalized with injuries suffered in the accident.

18 November 2015 Just got word that Bretton Woods is first in New Hampshire, opened this morning, bring a can of food and ride for free...The good news continues in Colorado, Arapahoe Basin rocking a 27" base midway, added some novice terrain today...over Berthoud Pass, Winter Park opens today...this is the time of year to grab lift ticket deals, you snooze you lose...a lot of 2-for-1 deals out there if you sign up for this or that, for example New Englanders can get a terrific BOGO by signing up for Magic Mountain's e-newsletter...and Wild Mountain Minnesota trying to get things going Friday, we'll keep you posted.

17 November 2015 Game on in the south, at Sugar Mountain and Cataloochee in North Carolina; both serving up a white ribbon of death. Sugar was only spinning on the weekend, they're soaking in the sunshine right now. The Cat meanwhile is operating today, says they'll keep going from here on, conditions permitting. View from the base this morning: ...and have to eat a bit of crow -- glad to do it -- that beast of the east Killington was able to reopen this past weekend. Kmart had a bit of a glitch on Sunday with some sort of power outtage, but the slopes are open today and things are looking good... ...cross-region rival Sunday River also did a reboot this weekend, and they're open day-to-day. A bit different from their usual twig season schedule, the Riv running the Locke Mountain Triple chair with downloading from midstation...and the good news from the west just keeps coming in, Snowbird got a foot of fresh yesterday, add that to the snow already on the stake, and they're going to open ahead of schedule, this coming Friday...half a foot overnight at Loveland...over the divide, Arapahoe Basin did open Lenawee/Dercums as promised, that's good...mixed bag in the midwest; Lutsen has put down some snow, but not enough. They hope to be open for Turkey Day. The new gondola gets a full load test on Friday...Ski Brule had rescheduled for Friday, but now saying probably not -- temps just too damn high...FIS World Cup news, we should be seeing more on TV this season, probably NBCSN. NBC Sports Group just acquired Universal Sports Network, including rights to nearly all FIS World Cup events. That's fantastic news...group of snowboarders will argue today before a federal appeals court in Denver that Alta's ban is discriminatory.

16 November 2015 Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Paris.

13 November 2015 Good news continues from the continental divide, Loveland will add Lift 6 today, Lift 2 tomorrow...and over the hill at A-Basin, the Lenawee Lift will be added sometime tomorrow with the Lenawee/Dercum's route open...over the next hill, Breckenridge kicking off the season with three lifts today...east, meanwhile, not all bad; no locusts or hurricanes yet...Sugarbush VT did have the guns on earlier this week, silent now...Stratton still talking about an 11/25 opening, maybe the Tooth Fairy will bring enough snow...Mount Snow a little more realistic, they're talking about Thanksgiving weekend but backing it up with a free rebooking guarantee if the main mountain lifts don't spin...and now Killington is saying they're gonna re-open Sunday! Well I want to believe 'em, but... ...a look at the North Ridge webcam this afternoon is not very reassuring. Kmart sez they're getting cold temps tonight and gonna make it happen, with downloading on the K1 gondy. I admire their positivity! Hope it pans out...Utah's new mega Park City Mountain Resort still saying they'll open Nov 21 and the connection will be finished in time...temperatures actually rising tomorrow across Michigan...patience, patience! Rather have the warm temps now, versus January.

12 November 2015 Northeasterners take heart, weather pundits starting to talk quietly about colder temps on or about November 23rd, providing plenty of time to crank out all those wonderful white ribbons of death in time for Thanksgiving...meanwhile the west continues to get the goods, snow piling up at Brighton and they'll be open next weekend...Copper opened yesterday with snow falling...speaking of which, parts of Vail got four feet of snow over the last 24 hours. I still don't see how that's worth $150 for a lift ticket...it's all good in California, as mentioned in previous reports, Alpine Meadows opens tomorrow, while Heavenly, Northstar, Squaw Valley and Kirkwood will spin lifts this weekend...Homewood has the snow guns blazing...Gallatin County Search and Rescue crews airlifted a back country skier out of Hyalite Canyon near Bozeman, MT yesterday, he was discovered by another group of skiers as he was walking down the canyon with no skis on. They thought he looked a little odd so they called out, and the ski-less BC dude explained he had crashed into a tree, and now was impaled by a stick. The group sat him down, built a fire, and contacted the rescue team. Thankfully the man will be ok, but this could've been disastrous. Never, ever ski backcountry alone.

11 November 2015 A sincere "thank you for your service" to all our under-appreciated Veterans today...Snow...and the west is seeing snow...over a foot fell last night at Loveland, almost as much over the hill at A-Basin...snow piling up at Mt. Bachelor...and Taos getting snow and cranking the guns...Alta, Squaw, Jackson Hole, 17" at Snowbird, I could go on and on...Alpine Meadows will open tomorrow, Squaw Valley on Saturday...China Peak was targeting Thanksgiving weekend, now may bump it up to the Saturday prior...Breckenridge opens Friday...Alaska biggie Alyeska has the guns on...and the news is finally, finally good at the Seattle areas; Stevens Pass getting snow and starting to mumble about a Thanksgiving opening! Here's a live view of the pass this afternoon... ..the east meanwhile continues to steam; just about the only positive is the Boston Ski and Snowboard Expo this weekend...also have to mention a live fundraiser auction this Friday at Black Mountain of Maine, this is one of those bootstrap operations that is making things happen through a community-wide effort. If you're anywhere near there it's a must-attend. Then head to Auburn, Maine Sunday for the Auburn Ski Association swap...things not much better in the midwest, regret to report that Ski Brule will not be able to open Friday as hoped, it's just too warm...New York's West Mountain has postponed the ribbon cutting and open house gala for their new chair to December 4th.

10 November 2015 Season rapidly gaining momentum in the west; snow continues in the Sierras...apparently Wolf Creek in SW Colorado did a soft opening this past weekend, also had something going in a small way on Halloween. They're closed today but intend to officially kick off the season tomorrow with $43 tix. Tons of snow there...incidentally the US Forest Service and US Fish and Wildlife Service have quietly paved the way for a Texas based developer to build a condo complex to be called The Village at Wolf Creek. The deal is a bit hinky, actually quite a bit hinky, as the USFS and USFWS gave up over 200 acres of prime land in exchange for 177 acres of private land elsewhere. So Rocky Mountain Wild, the San Louis Valley Ecosystem Council, the San Juan Citizens Alliance and the Wilderness Workshop Colorado are all suing the agencies, and in this case I don't blame them, because the Forest Service failed to provide Rocky Mountain Wild with documents they attempted to obtain under the Freedom of Information Act. I'm not saying this development is necessarily a bad thing, I'm just saying the government bureaucrats have to follow the rules. It does seem odd that they would make this upside down exchange for such prime real estate, and then violate the Freedom of Information Act. As Dan Olsen, executive director of San Juan Citizens Alliance said, "What are they working so hard to hide?"...Colorado will also add Copper Mountain to the open list tomorrow. They'll spin the American Eagle chair at 9 AM with a pair of open trails. Kudos to Copper: Free tix for active or retired military and family tomorrow in honor of Veteran's Day...California's Bear Mountain which many of us think of as "Big Bear" will open this Friday. Chair 9 will serve up park features, and Chair 7 will open with beginner-level terrain...Canada's Big White will open Friday as well...more legal hijinks in Aspen; Californian Laurence Niles is suing Aspen Valley Hospital and Dr. Bill Rodman for negligence in their treatment following a hit-and-run collision at Aspen Highlands that left the 80-year-old Niles with permanent brain injuries. Dr. Rodman and the hospital have filed a motion to hold the as-yet unidentified skier responsible, claiming he or she violated the Colorado Skier Safety Act by skiing recklessly and then fleeing the scene. Niles lawsuit says the staff misdiagnosed him, and it wasn't until six days after the crash that a CAT scan revealed brain damage. If people would just ski in control...so much snow in the Sierras, Heavenly and Northstar-at-Tahoe have moved opening day up to this Saturday. Heavenly will use the gondy to access upper terrain, while Northstar plans to open top-to-bottom...Kirkwood is evaluating conditions, may open early as well. Here's the view at Kirkwood this morning... ...reflecting 8" on the snow stake over the past 24 hours...ski jump in Plymouth NH demolished recently despite a $50,000 fundraising project and a State high school meet scheduled for February. Let's hope they replace it. Seven NH high schools participate in this sport. It may not have the big following of ball sports like football or basketball but by golly it has the biggest balls...and speaking of high schools, Wisconsin's Oconomowoc High School Ski and Clothing Swap this weekend, 7:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Nov. 14. Love those ski swaps.

9 November 2015 Weird court case involving a former Aspen instructor and Chicago area B-lister Michelle Menaker has been settled out of court. SkiCo instructor Kathryn Parkin, who now lives in California, had a class that included Menaker's son. A skier fell uphill, the boy turned to look, and smacked into Parkin. Parkin then sued Menaker, saying the Chicago gossip columnist was negligent because she enrolled her son "in a class that he was not competent to take." Odd thing is, the instructors kind of whack up the students based on their abilities. In fact Parkin testified in court that Menaker had no role in what class her son was in! Yet for some reason Ms. Menaker settled with Ms. Parkin. What next...seems Lindsey Vonn's bad luck streak continues, this time she tried to break up a fight between her two dogs and got the short end of the stick, specifically a thumb wound that required medical care...earn-your-turns skiers trying to make the most of two feet of pow at Crested Butte triggered a serious avalanche on Mt. Baldy, fortunately no one was hurt. Here's the aftermath, courtesy Crested Butte Avalanche Center... ...Crested Butte has scheduled November 25th as opening day...this just in, Bode Miller will be in the booth for NBC Sports coverage of the December 4-6 FIS World Cup mens events in Beaver Creek, that's the Birds of Prey Downhill and whatnot...more snow in the Sierras yesterday, Boreal opened top-to-bottom...some snow in the canyons Cottonwood yesterday, Alta and Brighton targeting November 20th to open; Snowbird and Solitude a day later...Michigan's Ski Brule still calling for the 13th at this point...Mainers enjoying the sound of snowguns back on at Sunday River, along with a test yesterday at sister resort Sugarloaf...Vermont's iconic Stowe Mountain Resort cranked up the guns yesterday on the Perry Merrill trail...Killington still quiet; they were open for eight days already this season...back to Utah, neglected to mention Solitude is replacing that cranky summit double with a high speed quad. Now that Solitude is owned by Deer Valley it seems like the glacial pace of that area will soon be a distant memory...Ian Cumming turning his attention to Snowbird after losing Powdr Corp's leasehold on Park City, the Bird is getting a new, $15 million restaurant on top of Hidden Peak. Meanwhile Vail Corp's moves at Park City are nearly complete, the Quicksilver gondy interconnect now has The Canyons under the Park City banner. They've also upgraded the King con and Motherlode lifts. Can you say, big ski area...and we're pleased to report that the temporary base lodge at Mad River Mountain Ohio will be up and running by December 1st...snuck in a short weekend essay yesterday, if you have any curiosity about ski clubs you might find it interesting, immediately below.

8 November 2015 This is the time of year that ski clubs across the country are making a concerted effort to solidify their ranks and recruit new members. These throwbacks to the 1970s and 1980s -- when you had to join via waiting lists -- are almost universally bemoaning a lack of new blood. Membership numbers are down, average age is up. Way up. The thriving ski club is a rare breed these days...This weekend I had an opportunity to talk to a number of clubs seeking to recruit new members. The pitch was more or less the same: join our group, have fun. They had posters of family picnics, and apres ski around the fireplace at some aging Vermont lodge. "We're having a holiday party in December." Sorry to say the younger generation doesn't want to join this sort of thing. And when the rare new member does inquire, they're invited to a meeting at some dusty VFW where the aging board argues endlessly about what color to paint the loft at the North Conway house...The pitch needs to be contemporary, and the first impression has to speak directly to them. Here's the pitch: cut your skiing expenses in half. That's the biggest, most obvious benefit the next generation will perceive from a ski club. And fortunately for the ski clubs, they have the power, via ski council days, discount vouchers, cheap lodging, etc. to make that happen...The second half of the problem is that first impression. Monthly meetings with a bunch of grey hairs at the Legion Hall aren't going to cut it. Instead, start off with a beer tasting. I know for a fact that ski club geezers love to drink, and so do thirty somethings, so this should be a no-brainer. Thirty somethings do not want to go to a holiday party where seniors bring deviled eggs and jello salad and dance in a conga line. But they'll tilt back a trendy IPA with anyone, regardless of age. I realize that's harsh, but it's the truth. Ski clubs need to adapt, or they're gonna die.

6 November 2015 More snow in the west as the east smolders...Arapahoe Basin has added the Ramrod route next to High Noon, and Loveland dropped the ropes on Richard's Run with 8" of fresh...and it's enough that Southern Cali's Mountain High, of all places, is opening this morning. Spruce Lodge will open the doors at 8:00 AM PST and the Coyote chair will spin from 8:30 to 4:00. They plan to have a good section of the Cruiser run open this weekend through Sunday, and will re-evaluate at that time. Here's a recent look at the Wrightwood area's snowmaking efforts... ...kudos to Mountain High...so the Bend, Oregonians that were selected for the "purchase" of Soldier Mountain Idaho are Matt and Diane McFerran, a married couple in their 30s. Soldier has 1,150 acres with 36 runs, two chairlifts, 1,400 vert, and a bunch of overdue upkeep...pleased to report a 20-year-old backcountry skier missing near Beehive Basin, MT found unharmed earlier this week. Have a great weekend...

5 November 2015 Well Mammoth Mountain didn't bother waiting for the scheduled opening, they're spinning today with three lifts and half a dozen trails...22" of new snow at Jackson Hole, won't be long now before they kick off their 50th season, and they'll have that new Teton lift running by December...attention central New Yorkers: run don't walk to the annual Upstate Ski & Snowboard Swap this weekend, NY State Fairgrounds Horticulture Building in Syracuse. Admission is free, plenty of consignments, and plenty of discount ticket opportunities from the likes of Song Mountain, Toggenburg, Snow Ridge, Labrador, Four Seasons, Greek Peak, as well as Highland Forest XC plus consignments from reps, demo fleets, you name it. Great event for CNY skiers & boarders...voters in Breckenridge just passed a transportation tax on lift tickets. Vail Resorts, which owns Breck, vehemently opposed this but ultimately came to an agreement that if passed it would not apply to season passes and summer ops. The tax rate will be set at 4.5% and funds are to be used to solve the myriad parking and traffic woes in town...and Soldier Mountain Idaho, the area offered in that quirky debt-only $149,000 sale, will be going to a couple from Bend Oregon, no further details yet...FIS World Cup races scheduled for next weekend in Levi Finland have been cancelled due to poor conditions and an uncooperative weather forecast.

4 November 2015 Northern Vermont icon Stowe Mountain Resort continues to talk about a November 11 opening, but I don't see it...elsewhere in Vermont, Mount Snow has announced November 22nd, and across the river in New Hampshire Loon is calling for the 16th...NY State operated Whiteface, Gore and Belleayre scheduled for November 22, 23, and 27, respectively...western NY icon Holiday Valley also tentatively targeting the 27th...Cali's Mammoth Mountain scheduled opening is November 11, a quick look at their webcam this morning says odds of that happening are pretty high... ...nice mix of natural and those guns are hammering...back to Vermont, Okemo working on a new trail pod on the southern end of the mountain, new quad and Suncatcher trail to service homes in the SouthFace Village. Okemonkey also putting up another line of bubble chairs at the north end of the resort. They're calling for a November 14 opening...Idaho's Brundage Mountain Resort going to offer free lift tix on their beginner chair this season, a couple of resorts do this and I think it's generally a good idea. Personally would prefer they charge a modest fee, maybe $5 or $10, simply from a marketing point of view. If you don't charge people for something, they tend to think it doesn't cost you anything...another way to slice the pie is the offer Arapahoe Basin has, 5-and-under ski free, and first timers age 6-12 can sign up now for a free two day pass valid after the Christmas holiday. You got four more days to sign your child up for that...World Cup news, Lindsey Vonn already saying she'll sit out the race in Levi later this month, as expected. It's a slalom event, probably do her more harm than good...speaking of Ms. Vonn, her old stomping grounds Buck Hill ski area near Minneapolis was sold recently. Founder and owner Nancy Stone, who opened Buck Hill in 1954, sold it to longtime GM Don McClure, and investors David and Corrine Solner. Plans are to do some upkeep, and ultimately add year round skiing with an artificial slope....Colorado Ski & Snowboard Expo this weekend, Colorado Convention Center in Denver, noon to 10 Friday, 10 am to 8 pm Saturday and 10 am to 6 pm Sunday. Admission is free for kids 12 and under and $15 for adults but you can find coupons/discounts whatever quite easily...New Jersey Ski Jamboree this Friday evening at the Hanover Marriott, free admission...Portland SkiFever & Snowboard Show, Friday to Sunday, Nov. 6-8, to the Portland Expo Center...snow overnight in southern California at Big Bear etc., also at the newly renamed Lee Canyon Resort in Southern Nevada, formerly Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard...Wisconsin's usual early opener Trollhaugen got a dusting of snow but is on the list of resorts bemoaning the soaring temps. They hope to start snowmaking around mid-month; years past they've enjoyed the occasional October opening...Michigan's Crystal Mountain Resort just got a $463,370 grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corp., this has to do with the village and whatnot they're building at the base area...more from Michigan, appears things are moving along with the old Copper Mountain Jump near Ironwood, it's been shuttered since 1994 but a local bootstrap effort appears to have things on track for hosting a 2017 competition, which is fantastic news.

3 November 2015 Good news continues to fall from the sky in Tahoe; a foot of snow at Mt Rose which will open tomorrow as planned, Heavenly got a foot and now Boreal is calling for a Friday opening. Here's a live shot from Boreal this morning... ...maybe it is too early to get our hopes up, but this is still a heckuva lot better than last season...Still a lot of work going on at ski areas large and small, east and west and everything in between...micro Mt. Eustis in northern New Hampshire continues its return from the grave; they've got a number of towers in and doing electrical work as I type this...speaking of back from the dead, New York's biggie Gore Mountain still working on and improving the former North Creek Ski Bowl, adding new snowmaking and improving some trails, also adding more connector options from the main area...here's an unexpected story, Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort is reverting its name to Lee Canyon, which is what it was called prior to 2003. Not sure why the reversal, which will be effective November 9th...retired British World Cup speed skier Chemmy Alcott now part of a tour group offering super exclusive, individually guided off-piste skiing in Tignes and Verbier...good news in Idaho, seems Tamarack resort may be back on track, owner has turned over operational management to Replay Resorts of Vancouver. They're gonna install Brad Larsen as GM; he's an industry vet with experience at Telluride CO and Sugarloaf ME.

2 November 2015 Bright spot appears to be Tahoe region right now, here's a photo from Reno NV area Mt. Rose this morning... ...and they've announced a Wednesday opening...east and midwest, on the other hand, limping into November...midwest early bird Ski Brule has nixed the sixth for possible opening, warm temps are pushing things back. They're now calling for the 13th, keep your fingers crossed...Auburn, Maine's Lost Valley ski area has been sold to Mr. Robert Scott Shanaman, of Wilton NH, and from what we hear the season will proceed normally...unusual precedent at Winter Park this season, apparently there is such a shortage of housing in Grand County that WP is booting non-employees out of their employee housing. Normally they have enough low cost housing units that they open it up to non-employee tenants. Many of them have been renting from Winter Park for years...the Pittsburgh area earn-your-turns crowd is rankled a bit by the new policy at Seven Springs, starting this year you'll need a pass to go up the hill, even if it's under your own power. No word yet on what this will cost. Proving you can spin anything, Seven Springs is touting this and saying "first mountain in Pennsylvania to offer uphill skiing." Hmmm....and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a statue of Jesus on USFS land at Whitefish Mountain Resort can stay right where it is. It was put up in 1954 as a tribute to World War II veterans.

30 October 2015 Happy Halloween and thanks to all of the readers who have returned to this column for the new season, and a big welcome to those of you who've just joined us! Season rebooted yesterday, this time in Colorado, see yesterday's entry below...kudos to Loveland and A-Basin for cranking it up, Mother Nature rewarding both areas with some nice "free" snow today, Basin likely to open a second route next week...Tahoe area Mt. Rose unfortunately was not able to open yesterday...so as far as my predictions, I was one-for-two...Rose is blowing snow right now, so that's good...also good news in the midwest, Caberfae Peaks got some snow yesterday, nice precursor to the season...usually first in the midwest is small but mighty Ski Brule in Michigan, checking in they are looking at Tuesday to crank up the guns...no word yet from Sunday River as to whether they'll be able to spin lifts this weekend, they took a hit with temps this week but they're remaining optimistic and will probably make the call this afternoon...elsewhere in Maine, Sugarloaf construction well underway on the new King Pine lift...Boston Ski & Snowboard Expo November 12-15...speaking of Boston, Harpoon brewery changing its logo and labels, been a New England staple for years...moving to Vermont, Bolton Valley has a "ski bum" pass for 18-25 year olds, $179 for the season, deal won't last long. I don't usually tout offers or promotions in this column, unless they're REALLY special and that one is...real live snow from the sky fell at Sierra-at-Tahoe yesterday, hopefully an omen for a better season. Here's a photo courtesy Sierra-at-Tahoe... ...the snowguns came on at Aspen yesterday; they're hosting a world cup event in late November and took advantage of low temps to get things moving. They're also trying to get USFS approval to replace lift 1A, AKA the Shadow Mountain Lift, on the west side of Ajax. SkiCo is considering a high speed quad, a gondy, or possibly a chondola (mix of chairs and gondys) but has yet to confirm which. They want to get this done prior to the FIS World Cup finals scheduled for 2017 in Aspen. The 1A dates to 1972...Tough news near Ski Santa Fe, seems over 1,000 trees have been steadily cut down over the past four years on Ravens Ridge in Santa Fe National Forest culminating at Ski Santa Fe's parking lot; Forest Service officials say prime suspect is a group of renegade backcountry skiers. Stupid jackasses don't realize that high altitude trees are a key part of the ecosystem and their crime is doing no good for the sport...update; Sunday River will spin tomorrow, dress in a real costume (not as a "skier") and you ride for free.

29 October 2015 Season underway, again, today Colorado came to life with first skiers on the Catwalk/Mambo white ribbon of death at Loveland... ...and a bunch of skiers doing the same on the High Noon route at Arapahoe Basin. Here's what it looked like a few minutes before 9 AM as the faithful were waitin' to go spacin' at the Basin... ...we'll pick it up tomorrow with more news...today we're just enjoying these good vibrations!

28 October 2015 News out of Southern California, seems Mountain High and Snow Valley are gonna do limited reciprocal lift privileges this winter; passholders at one can ski three times at the other, excluding holiday blackouts. That's pretty cool...FIS World Cup is off until mid-November, they'll resume with more tech events in Levi Finland...snowing at Keystone and Arapahoe Basin this morning...I don't usually report on retailers, but this I gotta, outfitting giant REI announced that it will be CLOSED ON BLACK FRIDAY because they want their employees to enjoy the outdoors, which is what you should do on a day off...hope springs eternal in the Pacific NW, the Portland SkiFever & Snowboard show is set for November 6-8 at the Oregon Convention Center...in Colorado Beaver Creek ski instructors known as Beaver Creek Instructors United is seeking to unionize with the AFL-CIO's Denver chapter of the Communications Workers of America (CWA). They'll need 30 percent of the resort's instructors to go along, and then they can ask the National Labor Relations Board for a vote. CWA already has unions of some sort at Steamboat, Crested Butte, Canyons Resort, although the Canyons union may not survive the merger with Park City. Patrollers at Taos will be voting on the union in November.

27 October 2015 Snow falling here and there, Mt Bachelor and Jackson Hole among others, won't be long now...and it won't be long at all for Colorado, two days in fact as Loveland has announced a Thursday opening...on the other side of the divide, Arapahoe Basin has offered kudos to the folks at Loveland, but I wouldn't be surprised if they tried to piece the High Noon trail together and match 'em. Right now it doesn't look likely, but I've been wrong before. (Rarely, but it does happen)...and in Reno, Mt Rose still calling for an opening Thursday as well, but I don't see that either. At least we can hope...mucho mucho changes coming this season with the new ownership group at Arizona Snowbowl headed up by James Coleman of Durango/Purgatory fame. Everything from new lockers in the lodge to the first new chairlift in 30 seasons, new trails, new new new. The lift is a fixed grip quad that will service the Humphrey's Peak section -- looker's left -- which has a warren of underused intermediate runs. Here's an approximation on their trail map... Next up at the Snow Bowl is a high speed quad planned for Aggasiz Peak, currently served by an aging triple. The Humphreys chair is slated to open in December, and the HSQ will break ground after this season ends in Spring 2016. Great stuff happening there, indeed they have 75% of their terrain now serviced by snowmaking, a distant dream just four or five years ago...drama continues at the old Haystack area in Vermont, now known as the Hermitage Club or Haystack at the Hermitage or something like that. Anyway their balls-to-the-walls construction of this new super exclusive enclave has resulted in all sorts of permitting and environmental violations. Now Hermitage is making amends with an official apology and payment of a sizable fine, along with reconstruction of some sort of Forest Service trail up on the hill. If you aren't familiar with it, this is right in the shadow of Mount Snow, with all of its unwashed masses. Hermitage going with new lifts, heated seats, and a handful of wealthy patrons. Hey, this is America...Tahoe area Diamond Peak GM Brad Wilson has resigned, headed for Idaho's Bogus Basin...Jiminy Peak in western Massachusetts cutting the ribbon today on a 12 acre solar panel field. Added to their wind turbine, Jiminy sez this will provide 90% of the resort's power needs...got some news on all the increased "off season" stuff that resorts have been adding in recent years, this from SkiNH trade association, Loon reports summer and fall business up 3% over last season, Cannon Mountain says off season aerial tram rides and whatnot revenue up 12%, and Waterville Valley says bike rentals up almost 25% over this time last year. Being an off season hiker, backpacker, kayaker etc. I've often scratched my head about those people who feel compelled to go to a resort to experience summer recreation. But then again, I suppose the backcountry skiers say the same about those of us compelled to go to a resort to experience winter recreation! There's a lesson in there somewhere.

26 October 2015 Seems that Sunday River reopened briefly this past weekend, they're hoping to spin 'em again on Halloween...early opener Killington has banged it up for now, temps just didn't hold low enough for them. I expect to see some "earn-your-turns" enthusiasts as there's still plenty of snow on Kmart's North Ridge, albeit not enough to support a volume of skiers and boarders...things are looking better at Loveland and Arapahoe Basin, Loveland has packed everything down up high, but still has a lot to do to get the Home Run trail into skiable shape. Here's a look at winter wonderland on the east side of the divide... ...and we had great results for team USA at the Soelden FIS World Cup opener Giant Slalom this weekend, starting with a second place for Mikaela Shiffrin on Saturday. Italy's Federica Brignone won the icy event, with Liechtenstein star Tina Weirather finishing third. This victory was Brignone's first; she's had a number of podiums so it's hardly a surprise to fans. Brignone, on the other hand, was feeling so frustrated by her lack of success that she actually contemplated retirement at the end of last season. As for the men yesterday, glad to see Ted Ligety back atop the podium! Ted the Shred edged Frenchman Thomas Fanara by .15, with defending overall and discipline champ Marcel Hirscher in third. The win is Ligety's 25th, which puts him in some pretty fine company -- tied with Ivica Kostelic and Aksel Lund Svindal on the all-time mens list...news from the midwest, small but mighty Ski Brule has called for a November 6 opening day...among the off season improvements elsewhere in Michigan, Boyne Highlands is expanding their gladed terrain, and sister resort Boyne says they're gonna increase the hours for spinning the Ramshead lift this season...word out of northern Utah is that newly built Cherry Peak Ski Resort will indeed open this season...and things look good for NH's long shuttered Tenney Mountain to reopen about half of the area this season.

23 October 2015 Looks like our one and only open ski area is having some expected fits from Mother Nature. Killington just announced they're gonna limit Saturday and Sunday on hill traffic to season passholders. Still, we give Big K a ton of cred for what they're doing this season...elsewhere in Vermont Bolton Valley has announced December 12 as their scheduled opening day, and I'd suggest any northeasterners who like that area to take advantage of their one day online sale October 28, when BV will serve up $29 tix good for all but the usual holiday blackouts...word from NY/MA area Catamount is they've rerouted part of a trail and added a new 260 foot long carpet lift on a redesigned slope in an effort to improve their "first timer" experience; kudos to Catamount for that...7" of fresh at Loveland, they're backing that up with round-the-clock snowmaking on the chair 1 Catwalk/Mambo/Homerun route, won't be long now. Incidentally, Loveland is realigning chair 2 for the upcoming season, it's now gonna dump passengers at the base of chair 6. But holy crap, Loveland has a NEW TRAIL MAP to replace the confusing mess they had previously...Word out of northern Minnesota is that Lutsen is nearly ready to roll their new gondola lift, tentative completion date is November 15. So for old-times sake, let's enjoy one last ride on the old gondy... ...which I'm told is originally from Loon in New Hampshire, but not sure about that. Either way, great lift...word from Soelden has Lindsey Vonn cleared to ski but it's probably unlikely. Vonn, you may recall, hooked a tip a couple months ago down in New Zealand and wound up with a fractured ankle. Linz has said she plans to return at the end of November when the tour hits Aspen...with overall champ Anna Fenninger now out, and past champ Tina Maze taking a year off, the ladies overall globe is really up for grabs this season...in the Carolinas Beech Mountain has its annual job fair scheduled for Wednesday evening...seems Tahoe Donner in northern California is finally jumping on the snowmaking bandwagon, they'll start with seven polecats. TD is also adding to or expanding their cross country operations this season, to be called The Alder Creek Adventure Center...ok update here, Lindsey Vonn just confirmed she will not be skiing in the Soelden opener. Back on Monday....

22 October 2015 News flash -- overall women's champion Anna Fenninger airlifted off the piste at Soelden yesterday, torn ACL, sorry to say she's out for the season. Later in the day Canadian racer Dustin Cook suffered what we believe to be a similar injury, he'll require surgery and is out indefinitely. Cook you may recall won his first World Cup race in Meribel last season, along with a silver in the Super G championship in Beaver Creek. Tough start to the season...possibly the biggest news out of New England this off-season, aside from the likely closing of Saddleback, is the new racing slope on the Mittersill section of New Hampshire's Cannon Mountain. While certainly not the widest trail in the region, the sudden appearance of this huge clearcut swath has caused quite a stir. Seems the state's investment in a new chair on Mittersill hasn't paid off, so a racing organization has stepped in with promised programs and traffic. Snowmaking is being added, the course will be homologated, and the Cannon faithful are fit to be tied...down the road Loon Mountain is adding a Tesla charging station, how about that...tough news during the off season out of Ohio, where Mad River Mountain's classic base lodge burned to the ground a couple months ago. Well we're pleased to report that they're well underway with a temporary fabric type structure, and the season should kick off without a hitch. While the temporary structure will obviously lack the charm of the previous lodge, it's a heck of a lot better than standing around on charcoal...guns have been on and some natural stuff has fallen at Arapahoe Basin but it looks like a lot more cold temps are needed...over the hill they seem to be a bit more aggressive so far; maybe Loveland will take first honors in the front range this year... ...incidentally the last time Loveland opened this late was 2010, and if it doesn't happen this weekend, we look back to 2003 when they spun the lifts on October 28th...nice snowfall at Taos NM yesterday...that also means snow at Colorado's Wolf Creek, it looks wonderful but they need a bunch more to open...the three maintenance crew workers involved in the shoot-em-up at California's Alta Sierra Ski Resort pled not guilty yesterday. If you missed it, see yesterday's news, below...Tahoe's Mt Rose hopes to get in on the early season sweepstakes, they're hoping to open next Thursday but they'll need something different weather-wise to make that happen. Off season news is pretty cool from the Nevada resort, they moved the Ponderosa beginner chair around, which enabled them to add four new novice trails. Good thinking...Back to Colorado, we've got some opening days to talk about...
November 6: Copper, Keystone, Winter Park.
November 13: Breckenridge
November 20: Vail.
November 25: Beaver Creek, Crested Butte.
November 26: Aspen, Snowmass, Steamboat, Telluride.
December 12: Buttermilk, Ski Cooper.
December 17: Powderhorn.
...Team USA will have eight competitors on the Giant Slalom piste at Soelden this weekend. Racing for the gals on Saturday will be Mikaela Shiffrin and Megan McJames; Sunday the guys will send Ted Ligety, Tim Jitloff, Tommy Ford, and Kieffer Christianson, along with Hig Roberts and Nick Cohee, who are making their FIS World Cup debut.

21 October 2015 Crazy news out of California's Alta Sierra Ski Resort where an apparent misunderstanding among the maintenance team resulted in the death of 50-year-old worker Carl Woolwine. Seems maintenance supervisor Bobbie Dale Rhynes, 43, meant to fire a bullet over Woolwine's head last week, but missed. Well, hit. You get what I mean. Anyway, Rhynes told detectives he simply meant to scare Woolwine. After shooting Woolwine, Rhynes buried the body with a backhoe, and convinced three employees at the resort not to say anything. Then they had some beer and barbecued steaks. Well it all came unravelled and now Rhynes is charged with first-degree murder, while Thomas Ertz, 28, and Joan Noble, 34, are charged as accessories; all three are being held without bail...Iconic Jackson Hole Mountain Resort readying for its 50th Anniversary Season, has an online video series covering history, etc. and it's worth checking out. One thing they're doing, which I think is pretty cool, January 11th - 31st 2016 they'll give any season pass holder from any other ski area 50% off the window price. That means regular adult tix on those days will be about $60...yesterday promised to update y'all on the legendary Les Otten, he of former American Skiing Company fame. Well it seems LBO is trying a comeback or something like that, he's involved big time in a push to rebuild and reopen the historic Balsams/Wilderness resort and ski area in Dixville Notch, NH. Plans include rebuilt hotel buildings, transfer lifts, and a pie-in-the-sky expansion plan for the existing ski area. And lest you think Les is content to toil in the wilds of northern New Hampshire, appears he's also involved in a restaurant planned for the Sunday River base area. This is going to be the "Rockin' & Roastin' Cafe & Restaurant - At the Mountain," a partnership between Otten and Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer. Kramer is looking to further promote his Massachusetts-based Rockin' & Roastin' organic coffee brand. One thing about Les Otten, you never know where he's gonna turn up, and whatever you do, don't underestimate his ability to make things happen. Ah, they may ultimately crash and burn, but the flight is usually spectacular...First Tracks Online is reporting that Heli-Skiing will be offered by Beaver Creek this winter...small but mighty Oak Mountain in Speculator, NY is adding snowmaking to two more trails this season...nearby West Mountain gaining a new chairlift.

20 October 2015 Early season turns continue in the northeast with Mont Saint Sauveur added to the open list...appears Sunday River was a one-and-done for now, but what they had was fantastic top-to-bottom...Killington still going strong up on North Ridge, not sure if they can pull it off but they indeed plan to be open from here on out...and that big woosh you heard from New Hampshire was the guns blazing at Wildcat, they put in a solid two days of snowmaking. No specific plans to open yet, but looks like they're well on the way... ...and before we leave the northeast, brief update on the comings and goings, looks like three up, one down, this season. First up includes a complete reboot of Tenney Mountain in Plymouth, NH, this intermediate throwback hill has some deep pockets interested in seeing it return, and they're going full-tilt for this season. Second feel good story is Ascutney in Vermont, one of the largest areas ever to go kaput and I believe the only one with a high speed chair ever to fold. Well it seems a local bootstrap operation is close to putting in a rope tow for local youths, and that's awesome. It won't be a big resort, but it will be terrific for the kids. Third feel-good is also youth oriented, this is the former Hidden Valley ski area in Vernon, NJ, being reopened as a non-profit sort of winter camp to teach city kids how to ski, Ted Ligety attached his name to the project, there's a new lift going in, all sorts of work. I don't believe it will be open to the public; we'll see. And now the one down in the northeast, that would be the huge Saddleback Mountain operation in Maine, a big big ski area that just can't seem to get any traction...looking west the biggest off-season news is that Utah's The Canyons will cease to exist as a name, it will be connected to Park City this season as part of the fallout from the Powdr Corp vs. Vail Resorts courtroom drama. This is being accomplished with an 8 passenger gondola connection, along with the new King Con Express six-pack and Motherlode Express Quad, about $50 million worth of new lifts making Park City the biggest ski area in the USA, or so it would seem. Well the downside to all this is that a Saturday lift ticket in January will set you back $116 if you buy online, can't imagine what it will be if you walk up to the window with a giant tomahawk target on your forehead...all of this has Aspen's SkiCo fretting; the Park City thing definitely has a buzz going. Rumour has it that SkiCo advance bookings are down about two percent from this time a year ago -- don't quote me on that, but I find it plausible since SkiCo gets about a fourth of its business from international guests, and the US dollar is unusually strong right now. The Snowmass operation is setting its sights on the Lone Star State, hoping that Tex will fly in after some heavy promotion...for their part Heavenly in Tahoe is competing hard to get some of those dollars, getting some buzz with the new Lodge at Edgewood Tahoe $100 million hotel project and plans for all sorts of concerts and events to coincide with the resort's 60th season...very interesting news out of Montana last week when the non-profit operators of venerable Soldier Mountain announced that it would be sold. The price? $149,000. Yes, that's thousand. Before you re-mortgage the ranch to buy a ski area, be advised that the Board of Soldier Mountain Ski Area, Inc. will be reviewing all interested parties prior to selecting the owner they feel will do the best job. The $149,000 price tag is not intended to start a bidding war, it's a firm price to pay off the accumulated debt. Wonder if Les Otten has heard about this? More on him tomorrow.

19 October 2015 Huzzah! Game on, as yesterday Killington and today Sunday River kicked off the season! The Big K started spinning the lift up on the old glades section -- now known as North Ridge -- uploading and downloading on the K1 gondy, with a couple trails including something of a terrain park... ...kudos to KMart for getting this done, just one week after their Oktoberfest! Tell you what, if you can get there the foliage color is peaking right now. So it may not be the best skiing, but it's sure gonna be pretty for the next few days...a day late but no less impressive is Sunday River Maine opening this morning, running the Locke Mountain triple to service some terrain up high. They're downloading from midstation on that lift. The Riv will just be open today, then reopen weekends when they're able until the season gets going for real...meanwhile in Colorado Loveland turned the guns on Thursday night, ran 'em until 7:00 AM Friday, but to little or no avail as it's all gone as of this morning...We're glad to be back, as is customary we'll be catching up on all the off-season news over the next month and a half until things really start to boogie...Soelden is looking good for the FIS World Cup season opener this coming weekend. Keep in mind that it's a slalom race and usually some of the older and/or less technical racers tend to skip this event, Swiss great Carlo Janka and USA fave Julia Mancuso among those who are begging off...as is Bode Miller, who may just be retired even though he says he isn't. He also said that he won't be entering any World Cup events this year, and he's unlikely for the 2018 Olympics in South Korea. Meanwhile his horse Ravenheart won earlier this month and finished fourth in a race this weekend. I think he's finished competing on snow, but you never can be sure of anything with Bode...speaking of World Cup racing and Killington, the beast of the east will be hosting the ladies for an FIS slalom race next November right after Thanksgiving 2016...and we congratulate XC great Kikkan Randall who is expecting her first child with husband Jeff Ellis in April, she's going to sit out the season as a result...and I guess we should report the tough news out of Timberline Lodge, they shut down the Palmer snowfield for lack of snow on August 3rd, and haven't reopened.

Thanks for joining me here at Ski Bum USA...We'll be doing more work on this site in the days ahead, the idea is that Gondyline will be exclusively devoted to history, lost ski areas, ski collectables, and generally where the sport has been...while Ski Bum USA is devoted to the here and now. Readers of this column deserve my personal thanks with a free USA sticker for your helmet, or your board, or whatever. Just e-mail your mailing address to sticker -at- skibumusa -dot- com and say "send me a Ski Bum USA sticker." They look like this:

Use this to get Lift Tickets at Discount: There is a "clearinghouse" of sorts that many ski areas use to raise cash by selling discount tickets in advance, called Liftopia . If you haven't used this service, it is usually best to know for certain that you are going on a specific date. The deeply discounted tickets must be purchased in advance; generally up to two days out. The sticking point is that some ski resorts only make a limited number of tickets available to Liftopia for any given day, so they might be sold out if you wait too long...so, as soon as you are absolutely, positively sure that you will be skiing on a certain day, click this link to get deeply discounted tickets . I've used this service many times, usually when I am absolutely certain I will be skiing on a specific date. Some resorts offer "flex" tickets with which you can specify the date, and some have a few different tiers of pricing. In other words, you might be able to get a lift ticket that can be used on different days, but you'll pay a little more for that privilege. You need to have access to a printer to print out your receipt, and you have to take identification with you to the mountain. I've knocked a third off -- even half off -- the price of some tickets. Not every area participates, but it's well worth checking before you head to the slopes.

A tiny portion of your Liftopia purchase helps fund this website, at no added cost.

Use this to get Ski & Board Rentals at Discount: If you're traveling to resorts in Colorado or Utah and you don't want to hump your gear through the airport, Breeze Ski Rentals is a convenient alternative with a number of different price levels. You can even bring your own helmet or boots and save a couple bucks if that interests you. Another thing is, they have locations at major resorts, as well as en route. I happen to like their Exit 234 location on I-70 when I'm headed to Summit County. Again, a tiny portion helps fund this website, at no additional cost to you. Breeze rentals.

News from December 1st 2014 through April 2015 is archived at Gondyline.com Ski/Snowboard News Archive, and from there you can work your way back to January 5, 2004.