Okemo Snow Day

Okemo Trio

The only thing more fun than getting out onto the slopes is getting out onto the slopes with family and friends. I got that opportunity yesterday as I hit the slopes with my daughter Allison and her grand man Jake. There we are, above, on the first lift up and away from the lodge.

It’s snowing. It’s 28 degrees. I’m on a ski lift. I’m with family. What could better? Not much.

Conditions were pretty incredible overall. There was 2-3 inches of fresh fluffy stuff on top of the trails. While not a real “powder day” the fresh stuff made for making some nice turns. And it made it feel fresh and wintry.

To top it off, they had snow making guns blasting full force on a couple of trails. Those trails were necessary connectors between summit and lower mountain areas, so it’s nice to see that they want to preserve access for as long as possible. Thumbs up Okemo on that one!

Temperature Inversion?

It snowed most of the morning, with a break for a splash of sunshine followed by more snow. Unlike most typical days where it starts colds and warms up, it started warm (28 degrees) and then the temperature dropped throughout the day. And the wind picked up from a gentle breeze in the morning to a gusty full out wind by afternoon. Blowing fluffy snow, especially at the summit, made for intermittent near white out conditions.

Despite it being weird that it got colder as time when on, the day was a blast. The crowds were non-existent and the fresh snow made for almost perfect ski and ride conditions. And ski and ride we did. Jackson Gore was probably our favorite place. Practically no one was there. We made several top-to-bottom runs where we saw maybe another one or two people on the trail.

While there were a few places, as the day wore on, that glacier ice poked through, those patches were easy to avoid. The fresh snow lumped up in the middle and spread out along the sides. Pure fun regardless where skis pointed.

Bottom line? Go have some fun on the slopes. Conditions are good to great.

11 Degree Smile

Where is one of the few places you could be where the temperature is 11 degrees and you have a big smile? The obvious answer is a ski mountain.

That was the situation for me this past Tuesday.

As I pulled into the parking lot at Mount Sunapee the thermometer in the car registered 11 degrees. But the sky was bluebird clear and there wasn’t so much as a whisker of a breeze. So booting up at the car in the parking lot was not so very bad.

Once again I put my boot bag on the passenger side seat. And once again I turned on the seat warmer about a half hour before getting to the slopes. My boots, while not exactly toasty, were definitely nicely warmed. I stuck my gloves behind the boot bag so they were up against the heated seat back rest. They were nice and toasty.

The crowds were a bit lighter than the week before and there were more trails open from the summit to base. That made for an even more fun time letting gravity have its way with me. Because it was nice and cold, the snow was firm and fast. And it stayed that way.

Conditions have improved over the past week. Yes, there was a bit of snow that fell up north. Not a ton but enough to freshen things up a bit and have a few more trails open up. I skied my first black diamonds of the season, just to remind my legs that not every run from the top was going to be on “Easy Street.”

All in all it was a great day on the slopes. And with the temperatures staying cold—in fact getting REAL COLD this weekend—the snow will certainly not melt. It also looks like some more snow is on tap for early next week, meaning another freshen up and perhaps more trails opening for use.

Yes it is a bit odd not being able to boot up in the lodge. And it is very odd to walk into a lodge and see it nearly, if not completely, empty. Odd as well to see the edges of the parking lot festooned with Port-A-Potties. And odder still to see a single skier or rider on a quad chair going up alone when there is a line of skiers and riders waiting for a chair to the summit.

But skiers and riders are still smiling and having fun playing in the snow. Maybe it’s because it’s 11 degrees. Or maybe it’s because the people who like to be outside and smiling when it’s 11 degrees are adaptable and willing to slide around or bash through the moguls life tosses in front of them. Of course it could be that incredible feeling of freedom when gravity tugs and your world collapses into a tunnel where vision is the blur of snow flying by and sound the clicking and clacking of steel edges on ice and crust.

Maybe it’s just all the above.

First Tracks At Mount Sunapee

A cross-mountain trail at Mount Sunapee

Okay, so technically I didn’t get first tracks on the mountain, but it was first tracks of this ski season for me. And it did take place at Mount Sunapee. The headline is therefore figuratively correct.

How were conditions you ask?

Given there has been precious little natural snow and that temperatures have been favorable for snow making in an on and off fashion, conditions were pretty good. At least on the trails that were open. The official Mount Sunapee posting stated about 50% open. That said, there were only a fistful of trails coming off the summit that you could connect up to get back to base. But all had pretty good snow coverage and were striped with nice corduroy.

That nice corduroy started to wear thin here and there as the morning worked towards noon time. Things wore thin fairly fast because there was lots of traffic over the trails open. It wasn’t super busy, but with only limited trails open they saw lots of action.

Bottom line? I am glad I went. I only had a half day to spend on the slopes so I didn’t get to see how conditions fared come afternoon. But the reality is my legs were screaming at me by late morning anyway. Staying all day would likely have resulted in some very unpleasant face plants, yard sales, and maybe even a downhill ride on a ski patrol sled. I am pretty glad I avoided all that!

So, you are thinking, get to the important point—what is skiing in the pandemic like? Not so very different, except….

You couldn’t leave bags in the lodges, though you could boot up in the lodges. The bottom line here is that regardless where you boot up, you are making at least one trip in ski boots from parking lot to ski lift. If you opt to boot up in the lodge, add an adventurous trek from lodge to car to stow your non-ski articles.

Bathrooms are still open, though Port-a-Potties were available here and there along the edges of the parking lot. Lodges are open and food available but with restrictions to allow for social distancing, etc. I didn’t go into any of the lodges so I cannot give any first hand information. It was a pleasant day—low to mid-30s—so there was no need to seek out warming areas. In fact, there were quite a few tail gate lunches taking place throughout the parking area.

Masks were required in social spaces, like the lift lines and on the lifts. Lift lines were not long or slow, but it was a weekday. I would say that it seemed more busy than I expected for a weekday, but I haven’t spent much time at Mount Sunapee so I have no prior experience for a reference point. That said the lines moved along at a good pace and wait time was never more than a couple minutes at the main high speed quad. You could ski right onto the slower mid-mountain lift.

Singles could stay single on the lift, if they wanted. But most singles paired up on opposite ends of the seat, keeping lines moving right along. Everyone was friendly, happy, and of course, having fun. Why else would you be there?

Bottom line? Yes, the experience is a bit difference. Booting up at the car was not such a big deal, but it wasn’t 10-degrees and windy. I may have a different opinion under those circumstances. Mount Sunapee is not huge, at least in the main parking area, so the walk to the lift was not really all that much extra exertion or adventure. But there wasn’t any snow on the ground, so the lot was all gravel and made for easy walking. Put that gravel under a bunch of snow and ice typical of ski area parking lots and again, I may have a different opinion.

Would I do it again? You betcha! And I probably will. Maybe even next week if I can sneak away again.

Here are a few tips to help you plan for your pandemic ski adventures.

  1. Put your boot pack on a seat in the car that is equipped with seat heaters. Turn the heat units on a half hour or so before you get to the resort. My boots, while not toasty, were nicely warmed as I booted up in the parking lot. No seat heaters? Lay your boots on the seat and have one of the passengers sit on them to get them warm. You may need more than a half hour. If the passenger is not happy about providing that service, and is being annoying about it, be sure to put the boots on the seat buckle side up.
  2. Bring along a foldable step stool to sit on while getting in and out of your ski boots. The height and angle is much better than from the edge of a car seat with the door open. If you want to get fancy, and I suggest you do, bring along a carpet square to put your feet on so you don’t track sand, gravel, snow and ice into your nicely warmed boots! As an alternate method, you could boot up in the nice warm lodge, then make the passenger who warmed the boots play valet and bring your boot bag back to the car. If they complain, forget to give them the key to the car and quickly get on the lift to the summit.

That’s about it. Yes, skiing in a pandemic is a bit different. But once on the slopes with gravity taking hold, nothing much is different. It’s still a blast.

But let’s leave on a really high high note. There were 3 or 4 trails that had massively high mounds of snow piled up on them. These I am sure were the results of several nights and days of making snow when the temperatures allowed. And no doubt these gigantic piles of snow were going to be pushed down the hill for the pleasure of skiers and riders this coming weekend.

AND let’s not forget that a storm is on tap for the area. While down here on the coast we most certainly will get wet, up to the north it looks like they will get white. So maybe plan a trip north over the holiday weekend, or sometime next week.

If I see a car on the highway with skis in the roof rack, and a passenger sitting a bit too high on the seat, with a less than happy face, I’ll know you read this blog and took some really good trip planning advice.

Moaning and Groaning

Some were looking out the window this morning and moaning and groaning about the wind whipped white stuff flashing by. Sad thoughts of short days, slippery walkways, and shoveling driveways filled their heads. A shake of the head and a return to the morning news was their best response.

Others, myself included, looked out the window and moaned and groaned in ecstasy. Beautiful fluffy white flakes whipped past my face, turning the lawn a most wondrous shade of not-green. Happy thoughts of days on the slopes filled my head, thinking they are indeed too short. A smile forms thinking about slippery trails through the woods. A flush of adrenaline comes through as my mind sees powder parting off the sides of the shovels of my skis in turn after graceful turn. I shake my head in wonder that the time has nearly come, again. I go to the closet to ogle skis, boots, and parkas.

Take a look at the images up top. Stratton Peak, Cannon Summit, Killington Superstar. All dressed up in white. Another season of skiing and riding is nearly upon us. The snow today was just a teaser, but that’s okay by me. It means the season is changing and soon the slopes will be dressed not just in a dusting or even a foot that might melt away in a day or two, but white for the season.

I will be pulling skis from the closet and shaving off the summer wax. Then touching up edges to be bright and sharp. As I get antsy, I’ll put on a coat of “fits most temperatures” wax, scrape it off and brush and polish the bases until they gleam like mirrors.

I for one am about ready for some serious playing in the snow. Are you?

Foggy Mountain Skidown

Soft snow on “Interstate” traversing Stratton

It was 8:45 AM Tuesday March 3rd and I was on the Ursa lift at Stratton on my way to the summit. I had just skied over from the Sunbowl. I got on early because the young lady at the Sunrise lift was, evidently, just stretching her arms. But it looked to me like she was waving a willowy “Come on over.” So I did. She laughed when I explained. Then she waved me onto a chair.

Looking uphill from my chair on the Ursa lift I could clearly see that I could not clearly see the summit. A thick blanket of fog cloaked the upper quarter of the mountain. Ugh.

As far as fog goes though, this one was pretty okay. It didn’t put a frozen glaze over my goggle lens, not even a wet mist. It did make the snow a bit one-dimensional as I took my first plunge down the “Get My Drift” trail. But as I said, as far as foggy mountain skiing goes, this was pretty okay.

The surface was a little crusty right at the summit, but softened rapidly with my descent. Once below the fog line visibility improved and the light on the surface not quite as one-dimensional. Temperatures back at the base were warm, despite not much sun.

By ten or ten-thirty in the morning the fog had dissipated and the sun was shining brightly. Temperatures soared with the sunlight. I had my helmet vents wide open, jacket unzipped and underarm vents zipped wide open as well. The snow was soft top-to-bottom. It was spring skiing at its best.

By late morning things were a bit sloppy back at base areas, and there was a growing abundance of those very annoying “sticky strips” as I call them. You know, those patches of snow that are waterlogged and grab the bottom of the ski or snowboard and try to jerk you to a stop. Very annoying. Very.

But the skiing was delicious. Big fat sloppy turns in the soft snow from summit to base. Exhausting, but so much fun.

While we are seeing a bit of warm up at the moment, temperatures drop for the weekend, with a bit of snow tossed in up north on Friday. There is still plenty of skiing and riding to be had.

Avie’s Ski / Sports is at Killington today, and those lucky folks will see a repeat of what I got to experience yesterday. There will be some very happy, very tired skiers and riders on the return trip.

This Sunday Avie’s Ski / Sports heads off to Loon Mountain in New Hampshire. Take this opportunity this weekend to get in a few more turns before you turn away from winter and look towards the coming of summer.

And don’t forget that Sunday March 15th is the Avie’s Ski / Sport “Customer Appreciation” trip. Ted and all the shop staff join in on this trip north to Mount Snow. Coffee, donuts, and snacks of all sorts—a few even healthy—are available. Ted plays “Santa” passing out lots of fun “give away” items he has collected over the season. Socks, hats, scarves, and only Ted knows what else, make for a fun and entertaining trip.

Get out and go skiing and riding while the turns are soft and sweet. I hope to see you on March 15th on the trip to Mount Snow.

Soft Turns at Stratton

From the top of the Sunrise lift at Stratton

I popped in to Stratton on Tuesday. That was yesterday. I didn’t get in a downhill adrenaline fix last week, so I badly needed some slope time.

It was the usual kind of Tuesday not busy. Actually, it seemed even a bit less busy than usual. If it weren’t for the junior racers darting around, it might have been downright lonely. But that suits me fine. That’s why I steal away to ski weekdays.

It was warm. And for it being February, surprisingly warm. Warm enough that there was meltwater in the parking lot at the Sun Bowl when I arrived at 8:30 AM. No ice. Just puddles.

I took my first run down Spruce, the trail just after you duck under the gondola. The surface was crunchy frozen up top and soft and buttery at the bottom. As the day wore on the summit and upper trails softened up, and snow at the very bottom was getting on the slushy side. Seemed more like late March rather than late February.

The weather may be crazy, but the skiing is crazy good. There is still lots of snow on the trails and in the woods. Sure, there were a few brownish patches here and there, but nothing too nasty. Except…

Scare of the Day

It was maybe my 8th run to the summit for the morning, and I decided to take a run down Polar Bear. Any of you familiar with that trail know that after a nice, meandering start there is an abrupt, steep drop off. Many times people stop there, right in the middle of the trail and gawk at the scenery. Some no doubt, wish they didn’t take Polar Bear after seeing the drop off.

As I said, there really weren’t many people around and there was no on the trail in front or behind me, and no one gawking at the middle of the trail. So I went right off the drop, right in the center of the trail. Why not?

As soon as my skis tipped over the crest I saw a big mud patch dead center in front of me. It was too close and I had too much speed. I tried a sharp, forceful skidding turn in hopes that I would just miss it. But didn’t.

The mud grabbed my skis like I landed on fly paper. By some miracle—I am truly convinced it was a miracle—as I pitched sideways, sure I was going into “yard sale” mode, the skis released from the mud and I managed to keep balance and ski away without injury or injustice. Guess I shoulda stopped and gawked.

“Hero” Trail

Everybody loves “Hero Snow.” That’s when the snow softens up just enough so that even the most rank neophyte can tip a ski into the snow and make some really nice turns. I confess, I love that “Hero Snow” as much as anyone. And I loved it the most on the Lower Downeaster trail in the Sunbowl.

Lower Downeaster is a super fun trail. It’s a Blue Square trail, so it’s not intimidating. But it has enough of a pitch to it so skiers and riders can pick up some speed, and enough width to let those skiers and riders bleed off the speed if need arises.

With so few people around, I lapped that trail 4 or 5 times, having so much fun in the soft, buttery snow, making big sloppy fun turns and carves from top to bottom.

More Snow On Order

The weather forecast shows a mixed bag, but the conclusion will be a snow event. Things start off a bit warmer than we might like, then cold settles in and Vermont and New Hampshire will see anywhere from 6 to 12 inches of snow. That ought to cover up that nasty mud patch on Polar Bear! And then some.

The cold then hangs around for a bit, so that newly fallen snow won’t be turning into meltwater anytime soon. So plan to take advantage of the snow while the getting is good.

This Sunday, March 1st, Avie’s Ski / Sports has a bus pointed north into New Hampshire with a destination of Waterville Valley. Add a foot of snow on Thursday and below freezing temps—but not bone-ratting temps—will keep all that delectable snow right there for use on Sunday.

Conditions are good and for the weekend they will be great. It might not be the “Hero Snow” I got to play in, but you can be assured it will be nice fluffy powder or nice soft packed powder on the groomers. If you really need “hero,” wear your Superman undies.

The Avie’s Ski / Sports bus trip list is getting short. Don’t put off having a fun time in the snow. Be on that bus to Waterville Valley this Sunday. You most definitely will not regret it.

Stratton Snowscape

Stratton summit from the Sun Bowl

Today I took the opportunity to dash up north to check out conditions. I stopped in at Stratton figuring it would be a good gauge for what conditions are like at least through the lower and central portion of Vermont.

This was not done with the intent of having fun. I did this so that you would enter into President’s Day Week having an idea of what to expect. Of course, I will admit that my scouting trip was indeed fun. Maybe even a lot of fun. But I tried not to let it.

Vermont Conditions

It was nice to see on the drive up that Vermont now looks like Vermont should look during winter. The hills are draped with snow and the sides of roads are lined with snow piles. Not massive piles, but at least snow. There is also snow in the woods now, so the landscape is a pleasing white everywhere you look. It wasn’t that way when I was up there last week.

Much of Vermont has received about a foot of snow over the past week. With more expected overnight tonight and into tomorrow. It looks like that should leave another half-foot or so of snow to play in. And predictions are for a major storm in the early portion of next week, bringing we hope a major dump of white stuff.

Stratton Conditions

I started my day at the Sun Bowl. A quick look up the hill showed that trails had been groomed, but another couple inches of snow fell post grooming operations. Groomers with a bit of fluffy frosting on top sounded pretty tasty.

I made my way over to the Snow Bowl area to stretch leg muscles stiff from the 3-hour drive. When I got to the summit I found that the wind was pretty stiff, and there were large areas where all the fluff had blown off. The uncovered groomers were crusty on top, a result of the small amount of wet precipitation that occurred between the morning and late day snow events of yesterday.

Well that pesky fluffy snow had to go somewhere, and indeed it lay in patches and drifts on the windward side of the exposed slopes. Trails that were tucked between trees and out of the wind had a nice dusting of fluffy stuff.

The nice thing was that there was plenty of snow. Everywhere on the trails. Not a hint of glacier ice did I see. Conditions were fast and firm, with the firm part being a bit crunchy. If edges were sharp however, which you can bet mine were, then the groomers were a very fun thing.

As the day wore on the wind dropped off a bit and snow got distributed all across the trails, making for some very, very fine skiing and riding.

Skiing and Riding Conditions

Right now conditions are very, very good. The couple of recent snowfalls have topped off the trails quite nicely. Yes, there was a little bit of wetness that hit the slopes then froze, but it was just a little. And, as noted earlier, if your edges are sharp you will have lots of fun.

Dull edges? This is New England! You should always have sharp edges. Always. The every single time you go out kind of always.

Another moderate snowfall overnight tonight and into tomorrow will make things even better still. And there is no warming in the forecast either, so all this wonderful snow will stay around for a while.

The bottom line is, if you are planning on heading north to play in the snow during the coming school holiday, you will be met with great to excellent conditions. If you haven’t been planning on heading north, you may want to start making a plan.

Bromley On Sunday

Just a reminder that the Avie’s Ski / Sports Sunday Ski & Ride trip on February 16th heads to Bromley Mountain. That’s right next door to Stratton, so conditions will be equally as good. By Sunday, probably better.

Got Snow?

I went up to Stratton yesterday for another day on the snow. My next couple of weeks are a bit hectic, and I wanted to capture another day on the slopes when I could. So I did.

Everyone must have slept in post-Super Bowl. When I arrived at the Sun Bowl parking lot at about 8:30 AM I was the fourth car. At the summit a short time later, I pointed down Upper Tamarack for my first run, and noticed only one set of tracks on the trail. No doubt that was ski patrol.

A Changing Snowscape

A lot had changed since I was at Stratton this past Thursday. This time around there was much more glacier ice present. And the patches of glacier were more extensive in size than last week. Conditions were fast-and-firm once again, but a bit more crusty and icy. And less trails were groomed. A few that were groomed, like Upper Kidderbrook, were covered with a teeth rattling blanket of chunks the size of ice cubes. Snow coverage was thinner than the past week as well.

I guess that’s to be expected given that no significant snowfall has occurred in some time. You can only redistribute the same snow so many ways. Since some gets kicked off trail at the edges each and every day, it’s a cumulative loss. That said, the trails not groomed with ice cubes were fast and fun.

A pesky “ice fog” hovered over the summit the entire time I was there. That made for some challenging, if not difficult visuals. I did a few more runs up top then settled into hitting trails on the lower mountain. By late morning the snow was softening just a bit on the lower mountain. That made for some easy cruising and fun carves. I made multiple laps on Sunrise Supertrail enjoying that soft snow. Then about noon the nasty summit cloud descended to the base. Adding insult to injury a nice light misty mix of water and ice came with it.

I did a few more runs hoping the cloud would get legs and walk back uphill. It didn’t so I called it a day.

Snow On The Way!!

The forecast is calling for precipitation up north over the next couple of days, though a question mark remains about what form it might take.

The good news is that even if a mix starts things off, it sounds like it will end with a nice blanket of snow. And predictions are for another snow event to crop up this weekend, leaving another nice blanket of snow. Let’s hope the forecasters are on target with white instead of nasty wet.

Even better news is that New Hampshire slopes, Loon Mountain for instance, is forecasted to get all white stuff from both the first and second set of storms. So if you have been pondering getting on the Avie’s Ski / Sports trip this coming Sunday, January 9th, you may want to commit.

While ski mountains have been struggling to keep it together this snow-starved season, there is some good skiing and riding to be had if you go. And by weeks end things should be better still. Get out on the hill and have some fun.

Pico Pleasures

I had the pleasure of attending the dealer 2020 On Snow demo convened at Pico Mountain in Vermont this past week. This consists of two days of trying out the new ski and ride gear that will hit the market next season. And an opportunity to familiarize oneself with existing product.

The bottom line is that we get to give you first-hand experience using the product, for real, on the snow. This includes boots, skis and snowboards, goggles, poles, helmets and other stuff. Despite being an awful lot of fun, it is a very educational experience.

What’s Trending?

For next season don’t expect to see any massive upheavals in the realm of skis and ski boots. Certainly there are a few new models that will hit the shelves and racks, and there will be some reconfiguration of existing skis and boots; and a few known models will be retired. Pretty much a typical new season in the Land of Ski Gear.

The Ski Boots

In the world of ski boots, expect to see a continuation of the trend in making ski boots better fitting. Also expect to see a continuation of the trend in providing more responsive boots that provide better control over the skis across all boot widths. Gone—thankfully—are the days when it was difficult to find performance-oriented ski boots for those with wider feet.

Do expect to find that traditional 4-buckle boots actually allow easier entry and exit of your foot. This year I am sliding my feet into the newly redesigned Dalbello DS 110 ski boot. I can honestly say that my feet slide into these boots—redesigned with a new opening that actually does work to facilitate ease-of-entry—about as easily as they did into my previous 3-buckle Cabrio-style boots. This is a definite win for all feet!!

And do expect to continue to see ski boots that are lighter. Rapidly receding are the days when ski boots literally felt like lead weights. Newer boots are phenomenally light in weight. Again, a win for all. Toss in GripWalk so that you can pretty much walk normally in ski boots, and life on the slopes and in the lodge is looking pretty darn good.

The Skis

As with boots, don’t expect any sweeping changes in the world of skis. Some ski series will disappear, and a few new ones will be birthed. There is a trend towards seeing previously defined all-mountain skis take on many attributes of race skis. And there is a trend for making freestyle skis able to carve turns more easily. This is a good thing for those that love to sink a ski into carves all the way down the slope.

There also seems to be a trend towards redefining side cut, which determines turning radius and turning behavior of the ski. The trend is seeing side cut redefined in a way such that skis can readily take on a long, sweeping carve, then hop right to into a series of shorter, quicker turns. Sure, you can make any ski do this. But the new side cut technology facilitates the change so it is easier and more natural.

The Skiing

Conditions are actually pretty good up north. Granted, there isn’t an awful lot of snow in the woods, and not all trails are open due to thin cover where snow-making is minimal or not at all. Most trails have pretty good cover and are pretty much typical of New England ski slopes. Packed powder and loose granular surfaces with an occasional patch of glacier ice peeking through in heavily trafficked areas.

Fortunately that nasty, predicted precipitation beginning with “r” didn’t occur over this past weekend. A bit of mixed up weather passed through, but left temperatures cold enough to freshen things up with man-made snow. And continued flurries keep adding some natural fresh stuff, an inch or two at a time.

So get out and hit the slopes. The weather has been seasonal up to the north, though a bit on the warmer end of the scale. No bone-rattling cold like last January. So enjoy the somewhat moderate weather while you can. It’s New England. You know it won’t last.

In fact, threats of a Nor’easter are in the air for the coming weekend. I say bring it on, as long the type of precipitation does not contain the letter “r” I will be happy.

Super Bowl Sunday at Mount Snow

Just a reminder that if you want to get out on the slopes on Super Bowl Sunday—that’s this Sunday, February 2nd—then sign up for the Avie’s Ski & Ride trip headed to Mount Snow. Super Bowl Sunday is historically less crowded than your average Sunday on the slopes. And by early afternoon the crowd is so thin you might think it’s a weekday.

Get out and enjoy the slopes!!

Sunapee With Nordica

Matt Knittle, the Avie’s Ski / Sports representative for Nordica skis and boots, sent an invite to join him at Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire. The invitation included a day on the slopes trying Nordica gear. It was a great invitation, so I accepted.

The last time I had been to Mount Sunapee was on an Avie’s trip. I went with my new-to-snowboarding daughter who was at that time 13 years old. She just turned 27 this past November.

So it had been a while. With no particular reason other than Vermont destinations felt closer. They aren’t, as I discovered when I pulled into the parking area at 8:30 AM yesterday morning. It took about as long to get to Mount Sunapee as it does to get to Mount Snow or Stratton or Okemo. Maybe even a couple minutes less than Stratton or Okemo. But not enough to be significant in any meaningful way.

I met up with Matt, and jumped onto a pair of Navigator skis to start my day. I wanted something light in weight and fun in soft snow. Mountain ops had groomed, but then it snowed a couple inches post-grooming. That left a nice layer of fluff on top. Not enough to float a ski, but enough to make the first few runs softer and slower.

I had forgotten what a nice ski mountain Mount Sunapee is. The trails are not what you could label adventurous or really challenging. They do however, offer a wonderful opportunity to relax and enjoy well manicured, moderate grade trails winding through the New Hampshire woods.

From The Man Cave

After a few warm up runs on the Navigator 85s, I clicked boots into a pair of Enforcer 88 followed by Enforcer 93 a few runs later. Any Enforcer ski by Nordica is pretty amazing. Just looking at them you can see them oozing strength and power. Tip and turn, slash and skid. They do it all and do it well. Enforcer is a great all mountain ski that has the backbone to give high performance top to bottom regardless the conditions. Nordica hit a Grand Slam with Enforcer. It is the #1 selling men’s ski in the U.S., so I guess they know that already.

I had to jump into a pair of Spitfire 76 RS skis for a couple laps on the beautiful groomers that make up Mount Sunapee. The Spitfire skis are simply put, fun. Full camber makes them very, very lively. Dobermann race ski heritage makes them quick in and out of turns, and very, very “grippy” in those turns. Spitfire 76 RS is one of the more fun front-side skis I have had the pleasure of clicking my boots into this season and last.

Time With The Ladies

Every year I say I am going to ski women’s skis so that I have a better idea on how they relate to their equivalent men’s ski. I then would have better knowledge to pass along to women looking to pick up a new set of sticks. This year I mean it.

I clicked boots into a pair of Nordica Santa Ana 88 women’s skis. I wanted to try out a pair of the 93 mm width skis, but they were never available when I was swapping out one pair for another.

Given that Santa Ana skis are the women’s version of the venerable Enforcer men’s ski, I assumed similarities would be apparent. And they were.

First off, Santa Ana handle incredibly well. While lighter in weight than an equivalent length men’s Enforcer ski, the Santa Ana ski did not wimp out in performance and control. They tipped into turns as nicely, and held the turns without slipping or chattering or misbehaving at all. Because they are lighter, they were much more nimble than the men’s Enforcer counterpart. Which is not really surprising.

On the drive back from the Nordica sponsored event, I had a chance to reminisce on a few things. I was very glad that Matt invited Avie’s to join Nordica on the slopes at Mount Sunapee. I found that I really liked the slopes there, and figure I might try to spend more time at Sunapee in the future. It wasn’t very busy, even by weekday standards, and the slopes are very, very well maintained.

Favorite of the Day

I also realized that my favorite ski for the day was the women’s Santa Ana 88 ski. Because they maintained all the high-performing characteristics that the venerable men’s Enforcer ski is so well noted for, there was no way you could not like them. But when you toss in the extra lightness inherent in the women’s Santa Ana, I found them to be so much more fun because they were so much more nimble.

As a final disclaimer, let it be said that the Enforcer skis I tried out are slightly different than those on the market this season. The Enforcer sticks I got to ski on are the ones that you will see on the market next season. There isn’t a huge difference, but there is some and those nuances in technological changes do make the skis a bit different. But more on that next season.

And the Santa Ana skis are a totally new redesign, technologically, from those on the market this season. Since I did not try out past versions, I can’t point to differences. I can say, if you are in the market for a new pair of women’s skis next season, don’t overlook the Nordica Santa Ana series. They are amazing.