70th Annual Stowe Derby Runs February 22nd

Stowe, Vermont will host the 70th Annual Stowe Derby on February 22. Begun in 1945 as a challenge between two renowned local skiers, the derby has grown into a major event with more than 900 participants ranging from families and purely recreational skiers to top Canadian ski team members and NCAA champions. The race begins at the summit of the Toll Road on Mt. Mansfield and ends 20 kilometers, or about 12 miles, away in the village of Stowe. Skiers descend the length of the Toll Road then follow the Stowe Recreation Path into town, a vertical drop of more than 2600 feet.

The Long Course, for skiers 14 and older, has two categories – one for skate or freestyle skiers and one for classical, where no skating is allowed at all. It starts at the top of the Toll Road, is downhill for about 4 miles then meeting up with the resorts cross country trails and those of the Trapp Family Lodge. The final portion is a flat 5 mile run on the Stowe Recreation Path ending in the village of Stowe. The big catch to all this –

racers are allowed only one pair of skis for the entire race. They must compete in the downhill and cross country portions on the same skis!

The top competitors will finish the course in about 45 minutes while recreational skiers may take two hours or more.

The Short Course, for kids 5 to 13 and families, is 6 kilometers and is run over the last part of the other divisions on the Recreation Path.

For a real test of endurance, and truly for experts only, there is the Derby Meister. Contestants race the skate and the classical races back to back, a total of 40 kilometers.

The race is run today the same as it was 70 years ago from the top of Vermont’s highest peak into the picturesque and historic village of Stowe. Many consider it to be the ultimate test of a skier’s ability.

 

New Sunbowl Express Lift Spins at Sunapee

Guests at Mount Sunapee have long awaited replacement of the Sunbowl lift and it is now a reality. The new Sunbowl Express, a high speed detachable quad which opened last week, speeds them to the summit in 4 ½ minutes, half the time of its predecessor. Many Sunapee skiers and riders favor the Bowl cruisers, especially in the morning with its sunny exposure. But their time spent there was sometimes cut short by impatience with the slow lift. With the ride time now more comparable to the high speed quad on the front side of the mountain, Sunapee’s guests will likely spend more time in the Sun Bowl thereby spreading customers more evenly around the mountain.

“In recent years this has been the #1 request from our guests,” said Jay Gamble, general manager of Mount Sunapee Resort. “With the ride time to the summit cut by more than half on the second longest lift at Mount Sunapee, our guests will enjoy a lot more skiing and riding during the day. The Sunbowl is very popular, especially when the morning sun is shining on the trails.”

Happy riders on the Sunbowl Express
Happy riders on the Sunbowl Express

The Leitner-Poma installation is the first step in a series of changes that will take place over the next couple of years. The fixed grip quad will move to the front of the mountain next year and replace the North Peak Triple providing faster access to some of the area’s steepest terrain. And a triple chair will be installed to bring skiers and boarders from the bottom of the Sunbowl to the top of North Peak. New terrain will also be added from North Peak into the Sunbowl along with additional snowmaking.

Spear Mountain Express Opens at Ragged

The sun shone brightly this past Saturday for the opening of Ragged Mountain’s new lift, the Spear Mountain Express. The brand new Dopplemayer detachable quad, installed this fall, transports skiers and riders to the summit of Spear in just 4 minutes, a fraction of the 14 minutes spent on the old lift. The $5 million lift travels at 1100 feet/minute and currently has 68 four passenger chairs. According to Lift Maintenance Manager Jim Hjermstadt, if more trails are cut on the Spear Mountain portion of the resort, 22 more chairs could be added for a total of 90 without impacting the skier density on the hill. Meanwhile the Spear Mountain trails, which had been underutilized due to the long ride up, should see more skiers thereby spreading out trail usage on both peaks.

The new lift is powered by an electric motor with two backup diesel drives in case of emergency. The first diesel backup can run the lift at full speed should there be a power failure. The auxiliary power unit or APU, also diesel, would run the lift at a slow speed to get riders safely unloaded at the summit. “The only time we would have to do a rope evacuation would be in the case of the cable coming off the sheaves or some other catastrophic mechanical failure,” says Hjermstadt.

Ryan Schramm, Ragged’s Director of Business Development and the first rider on the lift along with three special guests, says “This new lift is going to have a positive impact on the area experience. Changing the ride time from 14 minutes to 4 minutes is huge. This is the first step in a long term development plan which is really exciting.”

Other improvements currently in the works are the construction of Cardigan Cabins along the edge of the Barnyard beginner’s area. The first three out of a planned 20 units are now under construction. These units range from 1200 to 2000 square feet and will be available for rental when completed.

Last year Ragged added a new carpet lift servicing a terrain based learning area and a tubing park with its own carpet lift, warming hut and complete snowmaking.

Ryan Schramm cuts the ribbon to open the Spear Mountain Express
Ryan Schramm cuts the ribbon to open the Spear Mountain Express
Chair # one takes first riders up Spear Mountain Express
Chair # 1 takes first riders up Spear Mountain Express

Storm Brings Powder For St. Pat’s Day Deals

courtesy of Wildcat photo courtesy of Wildcat

Wednesday’s storm has brought plenty of new snow to northern New Hampshire just in time for some great deals being offered for St. Patrick’s Day. Attitash, Bretton Woods, Ragged Mountain, Waterville Valley and Wildcat are all offering $17 lift tickets on Monday, March 17. For Ragged you must purchase tickets on line in advance. Also available at Ragged are $17 tubing tickets on Sunday, March 16. These areas have received 8 inches or more of new snow as of Thursday morning and it’s still snowing! Wildcat tops the list with 18 inches of the fluffy white stuff with Bretton Woods not far behind with over a foot. With mid winter conditions in store, every skier is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day so get out and take advantage of the deals and the conditions.

Wednesday’s storm has brought plenty of new snow to northern New Hampshire just in time for some great deals being offered for St. Patrick’s Day. Attitash, Bretton Woods, Ragged Mountain, Waterville Valley and Wildcat are all offering $17 lift tickets on Monday, March 17. For Ragged you must purchase tickets on line in advance. Also available at Ragged are $17 tubing tickets on Sunday, March 16. These areas have received 8 inches or more of new snow as of Thursday morning and it’s still snowing! Wildcat tops the list with 18 inches of the fluffy white stuff with Bretton Woods not far behind with over a foot. With mid winter conditions in store, every skier is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day so get out and take advantage of the deals and the conditions.

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photo courtesy of Omni Mt. Washington Resort

 

A Reminder of Home at the Fairmont Tremblant

Do you miss your pooch when you’re away on vacation? Mt.Tremblant’s Fairmont Hotel has the solution. Their Canine Ambassador, Umi, is there to greet you, make you feel at home and even accompany you on walks through the pedestrian village.

Umi is a large, friendly black lab who hangs out in the hotel lobby during the day welcoming guests as they check in or pass through the lobby. He makes  himself available to all for cuddling and petting. Umi was originally in training with the Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind Association. But during his time there it was observed that on busy roads he was fearful of heavy traffic. He was so friendly and playful it was obvious that he was better suited to the role of Canine Ambassador. And so he arrived at the Fairmont Tremblant.

Umi relaxingThe Pedestrian Village

In addition to lying in his bed between the registration and concierge desks looking cute and observing the passing scene or patrolling the lobby greeting folks, Umi is available to go for a walk through Tremblant’s pedestrian village with hotel guests. The charm of the pedestrian village, with its shops, restaurants and cafes, is surely enhanced by walking it with a canine companion who is ready and willing to spark the start of a conversation with any passerby. He’s quite busy, so an appointment is necessary. He has a weekly schedule which allows for down time as well as regular interaction with hotel guests.

Umi's schedule

RAGGED MOUNTAIN OPENS TUBING PARK, NEW LEARNING AREA

Part of RaggedMountain’s $1.8 million in improvements this past summer includes the construction of a new tubing park. Longer than the length of two football fields, the park features rolls and dips allowing speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. Currently it has five lanes wide enough to allow three tubes to slide together in one lane. However it can be reconfigured to allow up to ten narrower lanes or some combination in between. A new carpet lift brings riders and tubes swiftly back to the top for another run.

 

The park will be kept blanketed in snow thanks to some of the eight new fan guns Ragged has purchased for this season. And lighting will allow for evening sessions. To keep tubers warm and hydrated, a yurt – a round tent-like structure which is heated – has been constructed at the top of the park which will serve hot drinks and snacks.

 

“Our new tubing park is a thrilling ride and an exciting way to get outside with your family, whether you ski or not,” said President and General Manager, Bob Ashton.

 

While the park has been open since Christmas vacation, the official Grand Opening Celebration will be held on Saturday, January 18 featuring fireworks, ribbon cutting, free hot chocolate and yes, tubing. The resort is currently holding a contest to name the park and it’s not too late to enter. You can submit entries on Ragged’s facebook page up until January 13th for a chance to win a tubing and pizza party for 4 as well as bragging rights for having your name chosen.

 

And lest you should think tubing is just for kids – think again. This middle aged writer and friend thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and plan to go back for more. Tubing is not just for the young but for the young at heart. It adds another dimension to the RaggedMountain experience, providing an activity for non-skiers as well as an additional pursuit for skiers and snowboarders.

 

Also new for this season is BeginnersBasin. Located adjacent to the Barnyard, this terrain based learning area is the latest concept in teaching skiing or snowboarding. Simply put it incorporates small features such as rollers and banks to allow new skiers and riders to experience the various sensations of sliding on snow and aid them in learning the basics such as turning and stopping. This new area is served by a 320 foot carpet lift which can also take people to the tubing park. New fan guns will also cover BeginnersBasin as well as some of the base area.

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AN ICE CASTLE COMES TO LOON MT.

Ice CastleLoon Mountain will be home and host to the East’s first Ice Castle this winter. The brainchild of artist Brent Christiansen of Utah, an Ice Castle was first displayed at a small spa and resort in 2009. The idea took off from there and has continued growing. Last year there were two – one at Steamboat Springs, Colorado and one at the Mall of America near Minneapolis.

What is an ice castle? Brent’s creations are complex structures up to 25 feet tall with towers, arches, tunnels, caverns and pathways which visitors can navigate and explore on foot. It usually takes visitors at least a half hour to wander through the castle and take advantage of all the photo ops.

The castle is built of many thousands of icicles which are “grown” and sculpted together over a base of ice, then sprayed with water to create these giant structures. Water, wind and temperature are all part of the equation and cause the castle to be continually changing and evolving. During the day the fortress exudes an icy blue hue. At night it is illuminated by multicolored lights embedded in the formations, lending a dramatic aura to the scene.

Loon’s Ice Castle is expected to be ready and open to the public by mid-to-late December and continue until mid March.