Well, we moved from Massachusetts to Michigan as of December 1999, so this has put somewhat of a dent in my alpine skiing activity for the moment. The information below under the heading "Favorite New England ski areas" was written while we were still in Massachusetts, and I'm leaving it stand as is. Once I find out what, if any, advanced downhill skiing is available in this dual-peninsula state, I'll post information about it here.
InfoBeat Snow is a free custom ski report email service. This appears to be part of a larger system called InfoBeat.
Yahoo's skiing page - lots more links here!
The No-Bull Vermont Ski Report - An independent report of snow conditions in many Vermont ski resorts.
For advanced skiers, there's not much in my home state of Massachusetts. I ski at Wachusett Mountain occasionally because it's only a half-hour drive from the Worcester area. They have night skiing, excellent instructors, and a great beginner's program there. I'll probably be visiting it a bit more than usual this year, since I've gotten interested in snowboarding and the slopes there are plenty challenging for my current level of riding.
Most of my skiing is done in the mountains of nearby New Hampshire and Vermont. I try to make several day trips every year, avoiding the weekend and vacation-week crowds.
Mad River Glen (north central Vermont) - I've only skied here once so far (1997), but I absolutely fell in love with it. It's a very old-fashioned place, not very large, with no snow making, and a quaint single-chair lift (very contemplative). The runs are all narrowly cut through beautiful dark evergreen forest, with lots of glades skiing. The day that I skied there, we had light snow flurries all day, which made the forest seem magical. I highly recommend this ski area for anyone that can handle it (their motto is "Ski it if you can"), provided that there's been enough natural snow. They also have numerous beginner's slopes with grooming (contrary to information posted here earlier). MRG's history and its current status as a skier-owned cooperative are very interesting. A newsletter that I picked up there highlighted the cooperative's concern for environmentalism, and described some of the interesting techniques that they use to reduce the impact of the slopes on the terrain and wildlife. Sure to warm the heart of any would-have-been or once-upon-a-time 60's love-and-peacenick.
Cannon Mountain (northern New Hampshire) -This is in beautiful Franconia Notch State Park. It's a state-owned ski area, so it's not one of the largest or most fancy resorts, but that's exactly what I like about it. It's just close enough to me for ambitious day trips. Lots of tough trails. They've got a great aerial tramway that operates year-round. It tends to be cold because most of the slopes are exposed to New England's infamous northeastern winter winds. Beginners and people who can't tolerate the cold would probably be better off at nearby Loon.
Killington (central Vermont) The "Beast of the East" is the largest ski resort in New England. Lots and lots of variety here, with some wicked steeps and bumps for advanced skiers, and plenty of fun cruisers for intermediates and beginners. I go here once a year with a bunch of friends for a long weekend, and we always have a good time. It's also just within reach for a day trip - about three hours' drive from the Worcester area. Killington has a ton of snow-making capability, so they can often provide decent skiing in spite of the mild winter weather that we often have in New England.
Stowe (north central Vermont) - I've been to Stowe several times. A beautiful location, with lots of variety. There are enough expert slopes and glades here to keep you busy all day long, including the infamous "Front Four" - Goat, Starr, Lift Line, and National. There appear to be a number of telemarking trails connecting to the alpine slopes -- not my cup of tea, but looks neat if you're into it.
Jay Peak (northern Vermont) - This is a beautiful resort in northernmost Vermont, almost in Canada! Being so far north, it gets a lot more snow than the other ski areas mentioned here, and a lot fewer visitors from crowded southern New England. Great skiing, lots of glades and challenging slopes. I like hearing all the Quebecois French spoken in the lodges - it reminds me of Switzerland. :-)
Sugarbush (north central Vermont) - Only been here once that I can remember (1998), but I enjoyed it. The Middle Earth trail stands out in my memory as being very interesting.
I learned to ski in 1973 as a thirteen-year-old in Switzerland. My first teachers were close family friends who were ski instructors. I spent the next four years skiing in the Bernese Oberland near Thun, where we lived. I have many happy memories of family day trips to a small ski area called Schwanden, where I watched my two younger brothers bomb down the slopes like maniacs while I followed more sedately and, I like to think, more gracefully. We also took annual trips with the entire family to the ski areas around Gstaad, where we rented part of a huge and ancient chalet owned by farmer Bieri. In the evening, the kids would hang out in the barn and watch Herr Bieri milk the cows. That's where I got my first taste of truly fresh milk! My only bad memories from these trips are of the "sanitary facilities" of the chalet -- the toilet was basically a hole in a board with a long drop to the basement!!!
When we came back to the United States in 1979, we were in Connecticut, a bit far from challenging ski country. During most of my time in college, I didn't have the money to pursue the sport. Fortunately, my good friend Andy Bauer was dating a woman from Wesleyan University who got us access to a university-owned lodge for one weekend. Thus was born our annual Killington ski trip, one of the highlights of every winter for me, and the impetus for me to re-enter the world of skiing. Moving to Massachusetts helped, too, since it puts me a bit closer to New Hampshire's ski areas.
Nowadays, I like to take the occasional day off mid-week to drive up north when the weekend crowds aren't around. Several of the friends that I usually ski with have surpassed my skiing skills over the past few years, so I'm feeling a lot of self-imposed pressure to improve!
In 1996, I tried out snowboarding for the first time and enjoyed it quite a bit. It was like starting all over again, which made every small accomplishment seem like a great victory. I spent the summer of 1996 agonizing over the choice of buying new skis to replace my aging Rossi 7S (giant slalom) skis, or investing in a board. Due in part to the influence of my friends (and the timely urging of Hal, who got obvious vicarious enjoyment out of helping me spend my money), I went for an Alpine upgrade -- Kaestle SpeedMachine GPs. Wow. The new boards have really helped me catch up to my mogul-bouncing skiing companions, revitalizing my passion for the sport. Such a difference! The new SpeedMachines have much more bounce, and they seem to hold an edge better. They probably have more torsional stiffness due to newer ski construction techniques.
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Last Updated December 24, 1999 by