Ski East News: January 1998


Check The Menu Board-Or The Snowboard

If you've skied Stratton, Vt., you've seen it: the abandoned, classic aluminum diner on the northside of Routes 11 and 30 just outside Manchester. Rotting streetside since 1985, the diner has been relocated to the top of Stratton's big new terrain park on the trail formerly known as Suntanner and has been revived as a hip warming hut. The interior of what will surely become snowboarder central will be outfitted diner-style with a Formica counter and spinning stools. In a nod to the Nineties, a booming sound system has been brought in to play the part of the jukebox. A 2,000-square-foot, twin-level, wrap-around deck opens directly onto Stratton's halfpipe, which is lit for night riding.

Show Me The Money
A ski area press release doesn't cross our desk these days without boasting about new snowmaking firepower. But according to a report in an industry publication, The Snow Industry Letter, there's a possibility that no one will be around to man the guns. Supervisors at a recent snowmaking symposium said they fear the region's low unemployment rate has left a dearth of employees. Said one, "When they quit, they tell me they work too hard for this kind of money."

Levi's Lure Londoners
Old England skiers are discovering New England. About 8,000 British skier visits are expected this season at the four Ski 93 resorts of Loon, Waterville Valley, Cannon and Bretton Woods. Says Ski 93 executive director Dan Egan, "They like the skiing, but they love the shopping. They come from a country with a huge Value Added Tax and we've got no sales tax in New Hampshire." The items most likely to fill returning suitcases: "Levi's and Timberland boots," says Egan.

Magic Back Full Time
Magic Mountain, Vt., will host skiers daily this winter. The Londonderry area, struggling to re-open after a six-year hiatus, announced a weekends-only schedule earlier this fall. But the addition of an 800-foot-long snowtubing park has led management to operate full-time. Don't let the tubing draw fool you. With a 1,600-foot vertical, Magic may not be big, but before it shuttered it had a reputation as having some of Southern Vermont's most challenging steeps.

Bargain Hunting
It's not customary for SKI to congratulate a ski area for being the first in its state to reach the $50 mark for a pass, but we've got nothing but kudos for Big Tupper, N.Y. At Big Tupper, $50 buys a season pass for college students, which we suspect will lead to a lot of class cutting at nearby institutions.

Tubing Takes The Poconos
Pennsylvania's Poconos may be the country's capital of snowtubing, to the surprise of even local officials. "We didn't expect it," admits Robert Uguccioni, executive director of the Pocono Mountains Vacation Bureau. "This is the biggest thing to hit since Rollerblades," he says. The areas in the Poconos collectively have 54 sliding chutes and 18 dedicated tubing lifts. Here's a look at what tubing fans can expect:
Alpine Mountain Center: Snow-tubing makes its debut with a 900-footlong slope of varying difficulty laced with 18 chutes and two tows.
Big Boulder/Jack Frost: The new North Pole tubing area is dedicated exclusively for the littlest sliders while the big kids of all ages skid down at Yukon Rapids. The area now has a total of 13 chutes and five lifts. There's also a special facility for birthday parties.
Blue Mountain: Six new lanes bring the total to 11 with two tows. There are four levels of chute difficulty.
Camelback: With two new chutes and a new lift, Camelback now has eight runs and three tows.
Shawnee Mountain: Its new park stretches 800 feet with six chutes and two lifts. It's fully lighted for night use.

Ringing In The New Year
New Hampshire's Bretton Woods ski area has been bought by the same group that owns the Mount Washington Hotel and Resort just across tthe road. While the grand hotel has been a summertime beacon for Granite State visitors since Teddy Roosevelt was president, it has never been winterized to greet winter guests. That may change now that there's an opportunity for marketing synergy. According to Bretton Woods publicist Ben Wilcox, one of the owners let slip that "he expects to greet New Year's Eve 2000 while dancing in the hotel's grand ballroom."