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The latest news, deals, and events from ski resorts throughout North America.

Insider’s Guide To Sugarbush

Insider’s Guide To Sugarbush

First tracks smiles at Sugarbush. (Sugarbush)

Sugarbush’s two base areas, Lincoln Peak and Mount Ellen, offer two Vermont experiences, with locals hitting Mount Ellen for an unfussy and authentic ski day, and families and vacationers using Lincoln Peak for the amenities.

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Magic’s Black Lift Turns First Time In Three Years

Magic’s Black Lift Turns First Time In Three Years

First chair on Black belongs to the kids. (Magic/Facebook) 

Well over $100,000 in repairs and maintenance went into bringing the Black Lift at Vermont’s Magic Mountain back to life. The Black Lift began loading skiers and riders for the first time in three years last weekend, after being certified to operate as a double lift by the State of Vermont Passenger Tramway Board.

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Stowe Will Be Epic: Vail Resorts Buys Stowe For $50 Million

Stowe Will Be Epic: Vail Resorts Buys Stowe For $50 Million

Vail's purchase of Stowe will mean more pass options for Eastern skiers. (Stowe)

Northeast skiers and riders can look forward to adding an Epic Pass to their season pass options next year, as Vail Resorts has announced the purchase of Stowe Mountain Resort for $50 million.

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SnoCountry SnoCast: Snow Keeps Falling!

SnoCountry SnoCast: Snow Keeps Falling!

Loon Mountain picks up another 5-7 inches Wednesday. (Loon Mountain/Facebook)

Looks like more snow will fall for many North American ski areas in this week’s SnoCast. With Presidents’ Day weekend and an influx of people hitting the slopes, read on to find out where best conditions will be.


Watch this week's SnoCast video here: 

Read about what to expect by region for Feb. 15 - 21.

East/Midwest: Yet another round of big snow will impact the far Northeast Wednesday through Thursday (Feb 15-16). Expect fresh snow and great conditions across Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine these days with many ski areas getting at least 4-8 inches of new powder; some peaks may see as much as 12-16 inches.

Get out and enjoy, because it looks like accumulating snowfall takes a break for a while after this. No other “big” storms are expected through mid next week. Temperatures will climb for much of the Midwest beginning Friday, before the warmth heads to the Northeast over the holiday weekend. Expect daytime temps above freezing each. Should keep the snow soft and pleasant for the weekend, and maybe even allow you to ditch a layer or two.

National Weather Service forecast snowfall amounts through Friday, Feb 17, 2017.

 

West: Three juicy storms are in store for the Western U.S. in this week’s outlook. Snow depth remains above normal for most of the Sierra Nevadas and Cascades, and we will add to that this week.  

Storm #1 is an area of Low pressure in the Gulf of Alaska, pumping in snow to the higher elevations of California, Washington and Oregon later Thursday (Feb. 16), then spreading into the mountains of Idaho Thursday night-Friday. With lower elevations seeing rainfall, look to the higher mountain peaks for best conditions.

Storm #2 will be a little farther south and more potent, pushing into California Friday with snow levels (again) a little higher than we’d like, with most snow accumulating over 6000-foot elevation, but potential for more than a foot for the central and southern Sierra range. This system will eventually spread inland to the interior Rockies over the weekend- should bring some new snow to the slopes of Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, and Colorado.

Finally, storm #3 plows into the far Pacific Northwest/British Columbia on Monday (Feb. 20) which will bring moderate to heavy snow to the higher terrain from the Washington/Oregon Cascades and Sierra Nevada first, before spreading into the interior Rockies through the early part of the week.

Tough to blanket a total snowfall amount through the weekend, due to the range in snow levels with multiple systems. Look to your local NWS office to seek the best time frame for your nearest mountain. Also, given recent heavy snow and changes in temps, be sure to check avalanche conditions in your local area.

National Weather Service forecast snowfall amounts through Friday, Feb 17, 2017.

Weather model (GFS) straight output of expected snowfall amounts for the Western U.S. through the weekend.

 

Canada: Active weather for Western Canada this week with multiple Pacific origin storms. Look for a big shot of accumulating snow to the coastal and interior ranges of British Columbia on Thursday and tapering off Friday (Feb. 16-17). A lighter round of snow showers overspreads British Columbia and Alberta’s peaks late Saturday-Sunday (Feb. 18-19). Another very potent storm brings accumulating snow to the same areas by early next week- watch Monday-Tuesday for great conditions and fresh snowfall.

Meanwhile, Eastern Canada has really packed on the snow over the past week.  With Low pressure wrapping in snow to the ski hills of Quebec Wednesday-Thursday, I’d expect decent conditions into the upcoming weekend. Expect temperatures to build over the weekend, with temperatures at or above 0C through early next week.

Weather model (GFS) straight output of expected snowfall amounts for Western Canada through the weekend.

'Til next week's SnoCast...happy skiing and riding, SnoCountry readers!

As always, a big shout-out and 'thanks' to Lyndon State College students Amanda Stone, Christopher Kurdek, and Scott Myerson for their weekly contributions and forecasts for SnoCast.

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Take Some Time: Longest Downhill Runs In US

Take Some Time: Longest Downhill Runs In US

A family heads down Village Way (Winter Park Resort/Chris Wellhausen)

Sometimes, you just want to get onto a trail and just go … and go … and go. Fortunately, U.S. ski and snowboard resorts have just the ticket for those who need a leisurely slide down the hill.


Obviously, Europe has us beat hands down, but the U.S. has got length, too. So SnoCountry.com went looking for the longest ski runs in the country -- those under a single name -- and came up with this sampling.

Vail boasts the longest run in Colorado, its famous Riva Ridge trail. Nothing gets you from top to bottom at the Colorado resort more readily than Riva Ridge. It’s mostly blue and black, starting near the summit and winding 4-1/2 miles to the Vail Village base area.

At Snowmass, if you’re at the top of Elk Camp and want a long cruiser at the end of the day, skiers and riders can link several blue runs off Elk Camp summit into a 5.3-mile cruiser to the bottom of Two Creeks chairlift. The run covers East Branch run, which is one of the longest single-named trails on the Colorado mountain.

If you’re at the top of Winter Park and don’t have the legs for anymore blacks or blues, as someone how to get on long and languid Village Way run that starts at the top of Parsenn Bowl. Mostly blue at the top, Village Way winds down more than five miles down onto the main front side of the Colorado resort.

Juggernaut at Killington

Vermont’s largest resort Killington also claims the East’s longest single run, a 10-mile cruise called Juggernaut. The trail starts at the top of Killington Peak and courses right along the ropes at ski area boundary. Rating begins as a blue but transitions to a green slide to the base of the Sunrise Village triple chair. A recent trip by SnoCountry resulted in a 45-minute trip from top to bottom.

 

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Okemo's Got A Deal For Northeast States

Okemo's Got A Deal For Northeast States

Okemo puts skiers and riders in a savings “state” of mind. (Okemo)

Everyone likes to get a good deal on skiing and snowboarding, and Vermont's Okemo Mountain Resort is offering substantial savings for residents of Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania when they visit on specific midweek days this winter.


Okemo’s Wonderful Wednesday and Sunday Solutions lift-access deals have been so well received by Vermont and New Hampshire residents, Okemo has extended similar state-specific offers for the residents of some other neighboring northeastern states as well.

Vermont and New Hampshire residents who can show proof of full-time residency can continue to take advantage of special lift access pricing on Sundays (excluding Feb. 19) and Wednesdays (excluding Feb. 22). They can ski or ride from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Sunday mornings for $39. Young adults and seniors pay $36, and juniors and super seniors pay $32. Sunday afternoon lift access, from 12:30 to 4 p.m., is $34 for all ages. Lift access on Wonderful Wednesdays is just $45 for all ages and the half-day rate (starting at 12:30 p.m.) is $34 for all ages.

Okemo Superpipe

Full-time residents of New York and Pennsylvania who visit Okemo on Tuesdays for the remainder of the season (excluding Feb. 21), can purchase a full day’s lift access for just $59.

Full-time residents of Connecticut and New Jersey who visit Okemo on Wednesdays for the remainder of the season (excluding Feb. 22), can purchase a full day’s lift access for $59.

Full-time residents of Massachusetts and Rhode Island who visit Okemo on Thursdays for the remainder of the season (excluding Feb. 23), can purchase a full day’s lift access for $59.

This special price is valid for all ages. Proof of residency in the form of a valid driver’s license must be presented at the time of purchase. Minors must be accompanied by an adult with proof of residency.

Okemo also offers lift access discounts for full-time college students, active members of the military and as part of ski-and-stay lodging packages. 

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SnoCountry SnoCast: Calmer West, Colder and more active East

SnoCountry SnoCast: Calmer West, Colder and more active East

Jay Peak picked up some fresh snow earlier this week. The first sign as we turn to a colder, more active pattern in the Eastern U.S. (Jay Peak/Instagram)

What a ride it’s been the past week with continued record snowfall for the Western mountains and a messy mix of snow, sleet, and (ick) ice for some of the East. The weather pattern is changing for all regions this week. Let’s dig into this week’s SnoCast. 


The changes we can expect this week (Jan. 25-31) feature a much more tranquil scene for the Western U.S. Meanwhile, for the Eastern U.S., a colder pattern will take over again, with potential for patchy snowfall with any storm system that develops. For all areas, even in a warmer than usual Canada, there will be fair conditions to make snow, if needed. In the image below, you're looking at the higher elevation temperature map into this weekend - notice the blue areas indicate colder than normal air, and red indicates warmer than normal.

 January 29 temperatures as compared to average. Blue is colder, red is warmer.

Here’s what to expect by region for Jan. 18-23:

West: After record snowfall at so many locations through the month of January, high pressure will generally dominate the Western weather this week. This will generally mean that snow will be limited, but that’s OK at this point, as some ski areas are having a tough time turning the lifts after so much snow fell. Just check out this image tweeted out by Kirkwood in California earlier this week.

Snow at Kirkwood

Good news is that the weather ahead should allow some great stretches of sunshine and bluebird days to look forward to. Any snow that does fall in the West this week will generally be very light and spread out over several days, and mainly squeezed out at the highest peaks. Totals could range anywhere from 2-6 inches from Thursday through the weekend for Colorado and Utah peaks, and between 1-4 inches for most other mountain tops. A quick front will dip into the Pacific Northwest Sunday night-Monday allowing for some better snow in the northern peaks of the Washington Cascades

East: In the east, following mild temps and snow melt the past two weeks, the tables are turning (and the lifts will be, too!). A large atmospheric trough will build in, allowing colder air to settle in for most of the Great Lakes region, and down the Eastern seaboard. Cold is, of course, the first thing we need to set the stage for snow.

I’d keep my eye on a couple of things. A quick moving, weak low pressure system Wednesday-Thursday treks from the Midwest, northeastward into Quebec. This will bring a mix of snow, sleet, and perhaps some chilly rain to some of our Midwest ski areas, New York’s Adirondacks, and New England ski areas. Behind this system is when much colder air is ushered in by a persistent west/northwest wind. That wind and leftover moisture should allow upslope snowfall Friday and Saturday against the Adirondacks, Green and White Mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire, and perhasps into Maine’s peaks, too.

A cold front dips into northern New England Sunday, which will bring a few more inches of fresh snow once again. Best bets: Whiteface, Jay Peak, Stowe. Here’s the snowfall forecast through Friday evening, keeping in mind another 3-6 inches may fall in the Northern mountains over the weekend.

Snowfall forecast through Friday evening, Jan. 27.

Canada: After some fresh snow earlier this week in Quebec (~20 cm at Le Massif), we head into a warm stretch for much of Canada this week. Much warmer than average temperatures will prevail over most of the country for this forecast period we’re talking about. Check out the forecast model image below by the “European” ECMWF forecast model. The orange and red colors indicate above normal temperatures, which covers most of the country.

Much warmer than normal temperatures will prevail in Canada this week.

Despite this fact, temps will still be cold enough to support snow. With a large trough/active pattern over the Eastern country, I'd expect some light snow in the Quebec mountains through the weekend, perhaps 5-10 cm. Also in the West, a small area of exception to the warmer temps will likely be across the far southwest of the country in British Columbia. Expect new snow over the weekend as coastal moisture streams into British Columbia, allowing some wet snow for these ski areas, likely between 25-35 cm.

Happy skiing and riding! 'Til next week!

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Carinthia Parks Progression By Design

Carinthia Parks Progression By Design

Carinthia is home to annual large-scale terrain park events like Red Bull All-Snow, The C.O.M.P., Carinthia Freeski Open and The Grommet Jam Series. (Mount Snow)

The largest area of freestyle terrain east of the Rockies, Mount Snow’s Carinthia Parks, is home to nine different terrain parks with nearly 150 features spread throughout. Carinthia is a breeding ground for some of the best athletes in snowsports thanks in large part to “progression by design.” This initiative is aimed at getting more people, young and old, into the park by having extra-small features all the way up to extra-large.

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Smuggs: Not Just Kids’ Play

Smuggs: Not Just Kids’ Play

So many great choices from the top of Madonna Mountain at Smugglers' Notch. (Smugglers' Notch) 

With a slew of awards for family programming in its pocket, Smugglers' Notch Resort is known as a mecca for groms and their parents who are eager to find fun on the snow. But if you only recognize Smuggs as the place to learn to ski, you’re missing out on some of Vermont’s most challenging and interesting terrain.

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Stowe Partners With The Chill Foundation

Stowe Partners With The Chill Foundation

Stowe will host The Chill youth development snowboard program this season. (The Chill Foundation/Facebook)

Vermont's Stowe Mountain Resort and The Chill Foundation launch a new partnership this winter that will bring area youth to Stowe for Chill’s six-week youth development program. Each week, Chill will bring participants to the mountain to learn to ride and also learn important life skills that they can use both on and off the mountain.

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Cranmore Adds First In East Diesel Electric Groomer

Cranmore Adds First In East Diesel Electric Groomer

Pisten Bully representative Josh Nelson hands over keys to Cranmore's Ben Wilcox, Tyler Fairbank, Brian Fairbank, Rick Oaks, Glen Harmon and John Mersereau. (Cranmore/Facebook)

At a belated ceremony at New Hampshire’s Cranmore Mountain Resort, PistenBully New England Regional Sales Representative, Josh Nelson, handed over the keys to the first 600E+ in the East.

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SnoCountry SnoCast: New Year, New Snow!

SnoCountry SnoCast: New Year, New Snow!

More snow on the way turning the corner to 2017. Read on to see what's cookin' in this week's SnoCast with meteorologist Kerrin Jeromin. (National Weather Service)

We’re saying “peace out, 2016”, and hello to a beautiful new (hopefully snow-filled) 2017. Our resolution to ski and ride more in 2017 will be no problem with a Nor’easter in the East to finish this week, and a more active pattern digging into the West after the turn of the new year.

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New Lift At Vermont’s Suicide Six

New Lift At Vermont’s Suicide Six

Suicide Six's new Chair #1 makes for an easy ride at this historic resort. (Suicide Six/Facebook)

As the 2016-2017 ski season kicks-off at Suicide Six Ski Area, the newly installed Chair #1 opened last week. The upgrade doubles the capacity of the previous chair, and provides a more comfortable and rapid ascent to the summit for all levels of skiers, racers and snowboarders.

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Mount Snow Projects Move Forward With EB-5 Funds

Mount Snow Projects Move Forward With EB-5 Funds

Rendering of the new Carinthia Lodge. (LineSync Architecture)

Mount Snow’s $52 million in EB-5 funding has been released from escrow, allowing them to continue construction of the West Lake Project, with work on the new base lodge at Carinthia Parks scheduled to begin in 2017.

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Early Winter Storms Bring Strong Start To Vermont Ski Season

Early Winter Storms Bring Strong Start To Vermont Ski Season

Jay Peak skiers are ready for Mother Nature to bring it on. (Jay Peak)

Thanks to Winter Storm Caly and the many weeks of early season snowfall, Vermont’s resorts have welcomed over 8 feet of natural snowfall to their slopes this season, and with it, have expanded their terrain offerings and snowmaking coverage as the conditions have continued to play in favor of an awesome 2016-17 ski and snowboard season. 

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‘Uphilling’ Takes Hold At U.S. Mountains

‘Uphilling’ Takes Hold At U.S. Mountains

Uphiller nears summit of Sunlight (photo Sunlight Mountain Resort)

Be it to stay fit, save money or get some quiet time in the out-of-doors, ”uphill skiing” has become a staple at many U.S. resorts – requiring mountain managers to adopt rules for the activity.

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Don't Forget Fido: Dog-Friendly Ski Lodges

Don't Forget Fido: Dog-Friendly Ski Lodges

Furry friends enjoy the snow and fresh air on a snowshoe trail at Stowe. (Stowe Mountain Lodge)

For many of us, our dogs are part of our family, and many resorts across the country welcome our four-legged friends with enthusiasm. Rather than leaving the pup behind, enjoy the company of wagging tails on the trails.

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New Book Offers Insider View Of Ski Industry

New Book Offers Insider View Of Ski Industry

Managing Steamboat under ASC wasn’t fun, but reviving it under Intrawest worked out. (Steamboat/Facebook)

So what’s it like to have chased the dream of a job in the ski industry?

Having worked for North America’s first-three major ski conglomerates, Chris Diamond was in a unique position to share his experiences and insights. So after retiring in 2015, he penned his 44-year ski-industry memoir, he told SnoCountry.com.


SKI INC. is a fast and fascinating read which describes not only players who shaped modern ski history but also the challenges resorts face, mistakes made, and keys to success and profitability. Add observations as to the future of skiing and how Vail Resorts came to have a dominant role as the world’s largest ski company and the insights are as instructive as they are surprisingly optimistic for skiing’s future.

From ski bum to career

A part-time bartender in Killington during college, Diamond had a short but effective stint in Killington’s marketing department working under the legendary Foster T. Chandler before service in Vietnam. In 1972, he continued his ski career as assistant to Killington Resort founder Pres Smith, which enabled him to be part of the tremendous growth of the ski area and its parent company’s acquisitions.

Mount Snow pool

At the helm of Mount Snow from 1977 to 1994, Diamond then became vice president for Business Development and president of the Vermont resorts for S-K-I Ltd. He was part of the team that saw S-K-I become the first successful ski industry giant after going public in 1985.

Killington ski instructors

Diamond shows how companies become successful but also notes missteps, writing: “Looking back at these early experiences at Killington and Mount Snow, there is one clear regret I have relative to their status today as regional resorts versus ‘what might have been.’ While the outside perception of the ski business insists that the core financial driver is real estate, nothing could be further from the truth. Well-run resorts make money on operations. That said, real estate is very important for destination ski resorts in that it can support or enable the strategic vision.”

His explication of being at a competitive disadvantage without a modern bed base is intriguing and his observation that “in Vermont, government is the enemy” is only part of his answer as what happened.

In 1999, Diamond became president of Steamboat under the American Skiing Company, which had purchased S-K-I to become the new largest ski company. Diamond praises founder Les Otten for his many contributions to skiing while denouncing the spending spree that cost him his company.

Steamboat’s revival under new owner Intrawest provides a look at what was then North America’s largest ski conglomerate until the bottom fell out of real estate.

The most intriguing chapter explores Vail Resorts’ amazing success. While he never worked for Vail, Diamond knew the players and offers an astute analysis that includes the ramifications of the Epic Pass and his opinion that “it’s just a matter of time” before Vail enters the Northeastern market.

SKI INC. is must reading for anyone interested in snow sports and is now available from skidiamondconsulting.com and from Amazon in January.

SKI Inc.

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SnoCountry SnoCast: Let It Snow

SnoCountry SnoCast: Let It Snow

Let's fill these chairs! Jay Peak Resort boasts a foot of fresh snow in the past 72 hours.  (Jay Peak Resort/Facebook)  

So far, I like the look of December. Now that it’s cold enough, several systems will help build up our snow totals and keep smiles on your faces! Let’s dig into this week’s SnoCast.


December promises to bring more cold and snow. Check out how the snow cover has improved over the past week. We're building up the snow all over the place- (check latest snow reports here). A sure sign winter is off to a solid start. Snow depth over the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia still dominate the maps, and will (again) have some of the most snow in this week's outlook.

Snow cover across the US and parts of Canada

Here's the forecast breakdown by region for the next several days:

West: Coming off a pretty cold couple of days and fresh new snow at so many mountains, another storm system will bring big snow through the end of the week (especially the higher peaks) for the mountains of California Thursday, then press northward to Oregon, Washington,and Idaho through the end of the week.This area already has some of the country's deepest snow depth- check local avalanche conditions (it's that deep). Generally 4-8” for many northwest mountain bases, but look for higher totals 1-2 feet through Saturday over the higher Cascades in Washington and Oregon, and also in the high terrain of the Sierra, perhaps near Tahoe.

That system and energy eventually presses into Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado through the weekend, leaving behind several inches of fresh snow for the weekend for many ski areas. With a fast west to east flowing jet stream up above, systems will be quick, and dump snow, but timing will be a big challenge, so forecasts beyond the weekend are going to be "iffy." Check the forecast often for early next week's outlook. 

National Weather Service forecase snowfall map through Friday, December 9 for the western US.

Midwest/Northeast: The Northeast continues to build up the base with shots of snow. A cold front drops in from Canada Friday, allowing cold air to fill in. This will help generate lake effect snow off the great lakes (good news for the Adirondacks in New York), and will also help generate a light snow in New England’s mountains through the end of the week. A few inches of upslope snow will create a soft coat on what’s already on the ground.

Watch for another system early next week (Monday, Dec, 12) as a stronger storm moves into the Great Lakes region/Northeast. This one could bring higher totals for our slopes.

National Weather Service forecast snowfall map through Dec. 9 for Eastern U.S. (NWS)

Canada: So far this season, most of the love from Mother Nature has been over western Canada. Some of the deepest snow in north America lives over B.C., including at Cypress, Mt Seymour, and Whistler. To the east, pleasant changes in the forecast. Recent mild temperatures over Ontario and Quebec will be replaced by much colder weather in the days ahead. Snow showers for eastern Canada through the end of this week as low pressure pulls away through Hudson Bay. Look for a more potent system early next week (Monday, Dec 12) over eastern Canada, which will likely bring higher totals to the ski areas of Quebec and Ontario. Also, colder air will help aid in snow making.

Upper atmosphere pattern for late week shows troughing/colder air returning to eastern Canada and northeast. This should stay into next week

This colder pattern in eastern Canada and the eastern U.S. will set the stage for storms to drop the goods. If you buy the European model ensemble output for the Northeast/Canada, we shouldn't have any bare ground left by early next week. Forecast image below shows snowfall from today (Dec. 7) through Tuesday, Dec. 13. While actual totals will (no doubt) end up being different, this paints a nice chance of almost all areas here getting snow on the ground. 

 snowfall from Dec. 7 through Dec. 13

'Til next week's edition of SnoCast! Let it snow!  

And a special thanks for contributions each week from Lyndon State College students, Scott Myerson, Amanda Stone and Christopher Kurdek!

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SKI MAGIC LLC Completes Purchase Of Magic Mountain

SKI MAGIC LLC Completes Purchase Of Magic Mountain

Magic’s system of off-piste glades have become proving grounds for many of New England's finest free skiers. (Magic Mountain/Facebook)

Vermont’s Magic Mountain officially has new owners, SKI MAGIC LLC, marking a critical turning point in the future sustainability and prosperity of Magic, founded in 1960.

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