Groundhog Day at Stratton

While many Tuesday morning were breathlessly waiting to see if a woodchuck would see it’s shadow, a few Avie’s staff were up at Stratton taking part in an “On Snow Demo.” This event allows ski and snowboard retailers an opportunity to test new and existing gear to see how it handles. Sometimes it’s an all new model, and sometimes a tweak of an existing model. Either way, it’s an awful lot of fun, but it really is work. The purpose of that work is of course to be able to help Avie’s Ski / Sport customers select the gear best suited to their needs and desires. And it sure is a lot easier to do that if we’ve had a chance to try the gear out first-hand.

We will divulge our findings next fall as the 2016/2017 crop of skis and snowboards hits the sales floor. In the meantime, here’s an update on snow conditions in lower Vermont.

Despite it being February, the entire mountain was still not open. This is an unfortunate trend throughout New England ski slopes this season, and so is not unique to Stratton. Those trails that were open were in good shape, and offered firm, hard, and fast conditions early in the day. Sunny slopes softened as the day went on, then set up firm once again as the shadows grew long. All in all, a pretty typical day of skiing in New England.

Coverage on many trails however, was a bit sparse. Underlying base ice showed through in several places on nearly all trails, some more than on others. While mostly avoidable, their presence does confirm what we all already know all too well—there just hasn’t been any substantial snowfall up in ski country.

Best Liked Trail? Sunrise Supertrail in the Sun Bowl. It kept it’s coverage throughout the day, and consistently saw the lightest crowds. I did most of my ski testing on this trail. Lower Middlebrook was fun early on while it was still hard and fast, and you could ski it fast.

Least Liked Trail? Upper Spruce. While this is usually one of my favorites, there was too little cover and too much glacier ice. The next trail over, Upper and Lower Wanderer, was much more user friendly.

High winds and heavy downpours of unfrozen snow—I refuse to use the “r” word—are expected for Wednesday, and I fear it will take a heavy toll on already stressed ski slopes. We need cold to settle in and stay settled in. But most of all we need snow, and lots of it please.

Okay. We’ll leak out one tidbit about what’s coming up next season so that you don’t build up too much angst over the unknown. Smith Optics is making their ChromaPop™ lens available in quite a few of their goggles. ChromaPop will be an upgrade option, and for the I/O series, as a replacement lens as well.

I tried them out late afternoon when the shadows start cutting out contrast against the snow, making it hard to judge depth and detail. The ChromaPop lens didn’t eliminate that nasty  lighting problem, though it did perhaps alleviate it just a bit. What it did do was make everything a bit sharper and crisper overall, and the ChromaPop really did make bold colors “pop” right out in vivid contrast to everything else. If you will be shopping for new goggles next fall, or maybe need a replacement lens for an ailing I/O model, you may want to give a ChromaPop lens some consideration.