In The Spotlight
Loon Mountain’s Rob Bevier, whose experience includes over 20 years as a PSIA examiner, says going in to your lesson with clear and realistic goals is key to making the most of your investment in a lesson with a pro.
“I always suggest to a student, whether it’s an adult or a child, to have that realistic goal in mind and express that with the instructor,” Bevier told SnoCountry.com.
Having a sense of what you’re trying to work towards helps the instructor tailor information that fits your needs. “They may want a quick dust-up - 'tell me what I’m doing wrong from last year.' Or they may say, 'I’m really scared of steeper terrain that’s icy and I have to get over this fear,'” Bevier told us.
Those goals also play into the decision as to whether you should have a group lesson or a private.
A group of friends that are all the same level would be the ideal candidates for a group lesson. “That’s a really neat opportunity to be able to have an instructor work with a bunch of your friends, a very social piece of it, and it’s a great value as well,” Bevier suggested
Some people want a private lesson to get more a personalized experience and attention. Bevier said the benefit of the private lesson is having that coach, for as long as you need them - it could be one hour or it could be a full day. “If you want an intensive piece, its a little more expensive, but then you can genuinely dictate the day and what you want to happen.”
In addition to working on specific skills, an instructor can provide insider knowledge on where to go and when to find optimal conditions on the mountain, such as the best time of day to hit a favorite trail or where to find a fun tree run to try out.
“Everyone wants to be a local. Those coaches are locals. They’ll dole out that cool information. Want to go to a cool bar? This is the place to go. Oh, you’re looking for the best burger place - this is my favorite. That’s part of what a coach does,” Bevier told us.
Bevier also suggests giving the school a call ahead of time to help you find just the right instructor for your needs. The call center will either know just what you’re looking for, or will do some research to find you an instructor to meet your needs.
Loon’s First Class Beginner’s Weekend program, which has given skiers a quick start to the sport since 2015, is now open to aspiring snowboarders.
Snowboarders who take part in First Class are treated to an immersive weekend-long learning experience that includes daily lessons, lift tickets, a slopeside learning lounge, and their own new Burton snowboard, plus boots and bindings. Skiers who sign up for the program will take home a new pair of HEAD skis, as well as bindings and boots.
The value of the two-day program that includes several meals, lessons, and gear for the keeping is worth much more than its $439 price tag. Brevier says the very successful program offers low student-to-instructor ratios and a chance to become a lifelong skier or rider. “We are finding graduates of the program are bringing their friends and their families to us. And those people are all buying season passes because of the great experience they’ve had. It’s delightful.”
Now part of the Alterra Mountain Company and the Ikon Pass, the quaint slopeside village and trails of southern Vermont’s Stratton will soon offer a new lift and restructured trails that benefit every level of skier and rider at the mountain.
Work is well underway on Stratton’s new Snow Bowl lift, the major project in this year’s $10 million-capital plan. The high-speed quad's new position minimizes wind impact with lower towers and is built with a parking rail for all 98 chairs to combat overnight icing. With a 1,000-foot-per-minute speed, ride time is reduced from 14 to five minutes. The top ramp will provide smoother access to Mike’s Way, a beginner run from the summit of southern-Vermont’s highest peak.
As part of the new Snow Bowl lift, Stratton has returned part of Upper Wanderer and Lower Snow Bowl Alley back to nature, increasing Stratton’s overall conservation area. Trees will be replanted in these areas to help promote a lasting and native Boreal environment. In return, a new Snow Bowl Alley will cut across the fall line and a new trail will go from the upper lift terminal over to Mike’s Way.
Another addition to the map will be a trail following the old the Poma line, a not-so-secret powder stash long favored by locals. It’s a narrow line for those looking for a challenge and a mandatory stop for old-school, tree lined run.
This year, Stratton is making access to the snow sports world that much easier by offering the Learn-to-Ski and Ride programs for $99 any day. The programs include freshly tuned equipment, “Learning Zone” lift access, and a 1 3⁄4 hour lesson with a Snow Sports professional. For those looking to explore Stratton’s peak and see the terrain that awaits them, an all-mountain access ticket is offered for an additional $20.
Located alongside the Gondola, BaseCamp overlooks Stratton’s main base area. BaseCamp will be serving everything from pizza to waffles this winter, makings it a perfect place to grab a snack before getting on the Gondola. Outfitted with Edison bulbs and a cozy bar stocked with some of Vermont’s favorite brews, the space creates a warm and intimate vibe. The rooftop will be open to seating year round and the menu will reflect seasonal changes. BaseCamp will also act as a new music venue, acting as an elevated, on-snow stage.
After an incredible November, more wintry conditions take us into December. We’ll kick it off with a cross-country storm system tracking low across the U.S.
Western U.S. & Canada
Nearly every mountain range has gained snow over the past week out west. Most notably, the Sierra Nevada range in California got absolutely dumped on to finish last week. Mammoth Mountain boasts anywhere from 3-5 FEET of snow to finish off November.
The next storm will track from southern California Friday, then cross the country over the following several days (eventually becoming the storm for the East on Monday and Tuesday, Dec 10-11).
Moisture will surge into California Thursday, and spill into the mountains of Arizona, New Mexico, and southern Colorado by Friday and early Saturday (Dec. 7-8). Snow will be elevation dependent with this system, so expect many peaks to pick up between 3-6” of fresh snow, with localized higher elevations up to 10”. Look around Mammoth in California, as well as Arizona Snowbowl, Taos and Angel Fire in New Mexico for some great skiing by the weekend.
For the Pacific Northwest, look for snow by early this upcoming week with moisture Monday-Tuesday. While totals are difficult to pinpoint so many days out, it looks like snow will fall for the northern Cascades in California, all the way up through Oregon and Washington, as well as the coastal range in British Columbia.
Eastern U.S. & Canada
The East is off to an incredible start to the season. Storm after storm pushing through the Northeast has developed a great base at many mountains. The Northeast will see a cold front come through late Thursday, with light flurries across upstate New York and Vermont by early Friday. But the real excitement comes farther south. Going through early next week, the same storm from the southwest U.S. will travel eastward, bringing lots of moisture to the southeast U.S. With temperatures hovering near 32 for the southern Appalachian Mountains, the best bet for snow will be in the mountains of North Carolina, West Virginia, and Virginia by Monday and Tuesday, December 10-11. We’re talking several inches and, for some, even a foot or more. Get ready, Sugar Mountain Resort, Cataloochee, and Beech Mountain Resort. Big snow incoming!
Beyond this week, the pattern looks to turn even more active for the country. With lots of dips in the jet stream, there should be ample cold and plenty of opportunity for storms to develop. Check back in with next week's SnoCast to see what's developing in the weather.
Sprinkled in among the big-name resorts of Colorado are a collection of distinct ski and snowboard mountains that have the terrain, variety and unique experiences like the big boys – but without the high price tag.
In recent years, many of these ski areas have gotten new owners – and cash infusions – as the investors recognize that it’s not always size that matters to skiers and riders looking for a good day on the slopes.
Here’s a look at a quartet of Colorado’s lesser-known skiing and riding mountains and what they have to offer for 2018-2019.
The oldest ski hill in the nation, city-owned Howelsen Hill sits right across the Yampa River from downtown Steamboat Springs. Along with night skiing Tuesday-Friday, the city has opened the hill for free skiing and riding on Sundays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. this winter. Just sign a waiver and pick up a ticket at the base lodge. Over the summer, crews repaired the Barrows chairlift that had been thrown a-kilter by soil subsidence.
Powder haven Silverton Mountain has it all: lift access (just one chair), guided, unguided, hike-to and heli-skiing terrain spread across 22,000 acres in the center of the San Juan Mountains. This season, the southwest Colorado resort opens Zone 8, a new heli-skiing area in the high alpine. Also, the dates for unguided skiing and riding terrain have expanded by 150 percent.
On the other side of the Colorado Rockies, reinvigorated Echo Mountain – the closest skiing and riding to Denver – has built a new tubing hill with covered conveyor lift. Also, the beginner area has grown and so has its Ambassador Coaching Program that empowers employees across the mountain to offer tips. New owners have an eye toward making Echo Mountain the place where Front Range newbies and novices cut their teeth on the sport.
And at Granby Ranch outside of the town of Granby off U.S. 40, resort ownership will rent out a portion of the mountain for evening events. Night skiing can be had on East Mountain from 5 to 9 p.m. for private groups.