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Wachusett Closes Out Early/Late Winter After 135 Days

Wachusett

It was one of the longest seasons ever for Wachusett Mountain in Princeton, Mass, featuring one of its earliest openings and latest closings.

 

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Mountain Travel Symposium Sold To Northstar Travel Media

MTS at BreckNorthstar Travel Media, a business-to-business information company based in Secaucus, N.J., has acquired Mountain Travel Symposium (MTS), the annual business exchange conference and forum that concludes today in Breckenridge, Colo. This year’s 39th annual event attracted nearly 1,200 travel professionals from all over the world.
 
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Wildcat, Loon, Bretton Woods To Keep You Turning Longer In NH

Wildcat

Wildcat Mountain in N.H. is uttering the words every spring skier and rider wants to hear.

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Skiing With A Centenarian At Michigan’s Crystal Mountain

Lou Batori at 103

I’m not sure if I’ve ever stood next to someone 103-years-old, let alone ski with someone that age. I fixed that omission Sunday at Crystal Mountain, when I got to ski with centenarian Lou Batori, very likely the oldest living skier in the world.

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Katz Addresses Park City Controversy At MTS; ‘People Will Do Right Thing’

Jason Blevins, Rob Katz MTS

A wave of laughter swept over the audience of several hundred mountain travel professionals when Denver Post staff reporter Jason Blevins opened his interview with Vail CEO Rob Katz during a general session Sunday at the 39th annual Mountain Travel Symposium (MTS) with the comment “so you just got back from Park City?” More than 1,200 people are attending the week-long business-to-business event in Breckenridge, Colo. 

 

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More Snow For Colorado As Winter Returns!

Forecast

More snow moving into Colorado Sunday, Tahoe next week.

 

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Stefan Abplanalp Named Head Coach Of Women’s Alpine Speed Skiers

Stefan AbplanalpA worldly veteran alpine ski coach who most recently led the Norwegian speed racers to a powerful resurgence has joined the U.S. Ski Team. Stefan Abplanalp is already on the job as head coach of the women’s alpine speed team. He replaces Chip White, who recently resigned after 18 years with the team.

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SnowSquawk: Wes Neustel’s Ski Trip -- The Group From 'Da-Loot'

Carol Cohen and Wes NeustelIt was only seven words and eight syllables, but when I heard them, I knew it was going to be a fun ski day.  

“I need a couple of old farts,” the man said to the person sitting behind the lift ticket window.

We’re standing at 6,100 feet on the east slope of Montana’s Bridger Range. There are several inches of new snow on the ground on this crisp mid-winter morning. More people begin to mill about the base area as snowmobiles churn up the mountainside and workers perform their routine series of chairlift safety checks and stops. Bridger Bowl ski area is waking up for the day.

“Ah, excuse me sir? Did you mean you need two senior lift tickets?” asks the lift ticket agent, a stately gent from Alaska.
“Yeah, two old farts for a couple of 79-year-olds,” the man replies.

There is an accent, and it is thick. You could categorize it as a Midwest accent, but to be even more precise, you need to sub-categorize it into one of several distinctive sub-genres. The call of the Heartlander alters slightly per every 400 to 500 miles of distance traveled. The accent that hails out of Duluth, Minnesota  where the average winter temperature stagnates at zero  is clear, crisp, and pronounced.

As it were, I was amid a group of 250 skiers from “Da-loot” out on their annual Ski Hut Bozeman Ski Trip. The news at the lift ticket window this morning is that 93-year-old Wes Neustel isn’t skiing this year because of his fall. It didn’t take long to understand that this was Wes’ ski trip.

He is the founder of Ski Hut, a ski shop he opened on East Fourth Street when he was 34 years old, and he’s been organizing ski trips and competitions ever since.

When Wes arrived at the ski area, there was a noticeable buzz. It was clear that after several decades of gathering people both young and old around the joys of sliding on snow that Wes had earned a certain level of notoriety and admiration among the group. I sat down and spoke with Wes.

“We’ve been family-owned, operated, and open for business non-stop on the same street corner since 1955, and we’re proud of that,” Wes said of his shop.

Sliding on snow was a natural pastime for a kid growing up in Duluth. Wes first skied in 1934, and he was big into ski jumping. Back then, he says, sailing a few hundred feet through the air wearing leather lace-up boots and eight-foot long wooden skis was all the rage. Every town in upper Michigan had a ski jump, he said, recalling an event held in Chicago that drew 40,000 spectators.

“In those days, there were no cars on the street, so all the kids would get busy shoveling snow, building big bumps in the road, everyone was out making jumps!” He added that they weren’t only skiing; many of them were out on the streets with bobsleds. “We never bothered to watch for traffic because there wasn’t any.”

Wes’ longest jump was 232 feet, just 25 feet short of the world record at that time. Wes became very familiar with thrill-induced adrenalin. He served in the Navy Air Corps as a gunner on a Douglas Dauntless SBD dive bomber. His job was to keep a close eye on the altimeter and to keep the pilot apprised of their altitude while the plane hurtled toward earth.  

“We used to pull out at only 2,000 feet,” Wes said, with a childish grin and gleam in his eye that made it clear that he would transport himself back to that very moment if it were possible. These days Wes’ son Scott organizes the ski trip, and he’s been running the Ski Hut operation since the late 1980s. The Neustel’s now own a second store in Duluth. The Ski Hut trip includes skiing at both Bridger Bowl and Big Sky. The group, comprised mostly of families, stays in nearby Bozeman.

“Some families drop out for a few years because of competitions, but then they return when their kids are older, the kids look forward to being here with their parents,” Scott said. “That’s what is so great about skiing, it bridges the generation gap, and everyone enjoys doing it.”

Wes’ last season of skiing came two years ago at the age of 91. While he no longer skis, he continues to make the trip to Montana, just to be among it all. His latest rush was winning a local ballroom dancing competition. He and his partner Carol Cohen won a free trip to sit in the audience of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars”.

“I can’t walk, but I can dance to beat hell,” Wes joked.

So, what happens after several decades of skiing, selling skiing, and organizing ski trips?

“You wind up with a lot of good friends, and a lot of good skiing,” Wes said.

Photo: Carol Cohen and Wes Neustel

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Trip Report: Finally Got To The Alps - 3 Weeks, 6 Cities, 7 Mountains

Kitzbuhel (Kemalyan group)(Editor’s Note: California small business owner Ron Kemalyan has been a lifelong skier. His dream of skiing in the Alps came true this season. Here’s his report.)

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Quebec, Ontario Resorts Forge Into Mid April; Good Bases, Deals, Events

Mt. Tremblant

While some resorts north of the border rest during the week and resume on the weekends, others are serving their patrons seven days a week. So it’s always good policy to research specific facilities in SnoCountry.com condition reports to see exactly where they stand.

 

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Spring Is Here! Will Snow Return?

Forecast

A warm up across the country this week and then maybe back to more snow next week.

 

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Now Is Time To Purchase 2014/15 Season Pass In Midwest

Hidden Valley

While this winter’s great season is still underway at a few resorts across the upper Midwest, now is the time to be thinking about your 2014/15 season pass. Some Heartland ski areas are currently offering their best prices of the year for a limited time. Many of these price incentives end this month.

 

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U.S. Nationals Head To Sugarloaf, Sun Valley 2015-18

US Alpine Nationals Squaw 2014The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association continues on its long-term plan to move its U.S. Alpine Championships to “top resorts” across the country. Sugarloaf, Maine and Sun Valley, Idaho will host the event on alternate years from 2015-2018, starting with Sugarloaf.

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Closing Events, Price Breaks On Tap In East: 'Happy April'

Ski Butternut“Happy April,” exclaimed Gore Mountain’s Emily Stanton to SnoCountry.com. “We are open daily through Sunday (April 6). We’re asking people to visit our website or check ahead regarding the schedule for next week. We’ll have events throughout April.”

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Snow Continues To Fall Right Into April Throughout Rocky Mountain West

Forecast 3-31-14

Powder days are rolling right into April as a series of storms hit California, Utah and Colorado. 

 

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Easter Weekend Skiing, Riding Available In Upper Great Lakes April 18-20

Easter fun at Boyne Mt.

Four resorts scattered across the upper Great Lakes will be open for skiing and riding Easter Weekend even though it’s coming later in April this year. That’s thanks to the record-breaking Midwest winter.

 

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Vermont Resorts To Host Spring Events As Winter Keeps A-Coming

Smugglers Notch

At a time when many resorts are usually thinking of their closing ceremonies and skiers and riders are starting to look toward warm weather vacations, the Eastern and Mid-Atlantic region in spring 2014 is changing the paradigm. Lots of snow, deep bases and more of both coming, will make those typical spring events look quite a bit different.

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Fire Destroys Lodge At North Carolina’s Wolf Creek; Ski Area Was Closed

Fire

The upper ski lodge at Wolf Ridge Ski Resort in Mars Hill, N.C., near Ashville, burned to the ground early Wednesday, March 26. There were no injuries and no one was inside the lodge. The ski area is closed for the season.

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Powder Days Forecast For California, Colorado And Utah This Week

Forecast 3-25-14

It’s the final week of March and Powder Days continue to roll through the west, with California, Utah and Colorado all forecasted to receive up to two feet of fresh.

 

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Winter Pushes Spring Well Into April In The Northeast

Bristol Mt.

Nirvana continues for skiers and riders up and down the east coast as the seemingly never-ending winter forges on toward a supposed conclusion. The irony is that most resorts will have ample snow when they quiet their lifts for the season.

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