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Goggle Tan Time: Northeast Spring Skiing And Riding Tips

Sprays-and-rays-Sunday-River-Facebook Sprays and rays are what spring skiing is all about. (Sunday River/Facebook)

Although winter is holding strong across the country, there are still plenty of days to follow the sun and enjoy all the snow that has fallen in the last few months. SnoCountry gathered some advice from the experts on how to make the most of these fun spring days.

Going in to prime spring skiing days, Karolyn Castaldo at Sunday River tells SnoCountry.com, “continue to keep an aggressive stance. Oftentimes, skiers get hung-up by the stickiness of wet snow, but staying on edge and flexing into your boots can help you to not only enjoy the snow, but keep your speed up.”

Castaldo also likes to use a wider all-mountain ski for spring snow. “My Volkl Kendos can handle pretty much all the lumps and bumps that come with mashed potatoes. Also—definitely still wear long sleeves and pants when you ski in the spring. Snow rash is no joke if you fall, and the sunburn you can get from the snow reflection is a lesson you only need to learn once.”

What's your spring riding attire plan? (Killington/Chandler Burgess)

Still, some like to throw caution to the wind in the spring attire. “Dress to impress!” Killington’s Courtney DiFiore tells us. “Wear your spring best, which ranges from bright neon outfits to swim wear. Anything goes at The Beast.” She does, however, note that you shouldn’t forget to pack the essentials for your day of spring skiing: sunglasses, sunblock and a ball cap, and sandals for apres-ski.

Smugglers’ Notch’s Mike Chait suggests you have a reputable shop put a pattern into your base to help channel water away from your equipment for smooth sliding. “The pattern acts like grooves and prevents your equipment from feeling like a moving suction cup,” Chait told us.
As far as timing goes, Chait says there’s no rush for first chair this time of year: “Why worry? There’s no need to hurry! Many mountains experience overnight freeze-ups, especially due to elevation. Have an extra cup of coffee in the morning to allow time for the snow surface to soften up a bit. Arrive at the mountain to a nice soft day of corn snow enlightenment.”

Okemo’s Bonnie MacPherson agrees that as in life, timing is everything when it comes to spring skiing. “Getting first tracks is not a priority; you want to give the mountain a little time to soften up from the bright, springtime sun and let the inevitable, rising temperature do its work.”

Spring turns under Okemo's orange bubble. (Okemo/Facebook)

As the mountain warms up, keeping an eye on where the sun is hitting the mountain makes a big difference – whether you are waiting for things to soften up or if you want to find snow that hasn’t gotten too slushy. “After a few runs, if it’s an especially warm day and the snow softens to the consistency of a Thanksgiving dinner side dish (please pass the gravy), I like to cruise the shady side of the trail – typically skiers’ right here at Okemo,” MacPherson told us. “It helps extend the day and give me a few more laps on the chairlift to work on my goggle tan.”

Finding your rhythm in the spring bumps. (Smugglers' Notch/Facebook)

Chait says one of the fun aspects of spring skiing is piecing together the patches of snow leftovers at the end of the season. “Bumpy trails and glades tend to have large piles of snow with thin, sometimes muddy (if you go where I like to go) ruts in between. That’s okay! Be sure to time your turns so you’re staying on the snow and out of the ruts. Bonus points if you can apply this technique to your skiing or riding mid-season. You’ll thank me for it!”

Spring skiing should last for quite some time at Killington, where they take advantage by keeping key lifts open later on weekends for skiers and riders. Their Spring Pass gets you unlimited access to soft turns for the remainder of their season, which with any luck could be into June.

Spring skiing also means people watching, and at Killington you can find prime viewing spots of Superstar trail at the Roaring Brook Umbrella Bar. DiFiore tells us this is the spot to sit by the outdoor fire on the brisk New England spring days and watch skiers and rider send it, or work on perfecting your goggle tan on the more seasonable weather days with a cold one in hand. 


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