Just a reminder to all of you who are considering the purchase of a seasonal lease ski or snowboard package for this season. Bretton Woods Jr Pass is FREE.
IF you have a skier or snowboarder age 12 or under, and purchase a seasonal lease at Avie’s Ski / Sports, you can get a FREE junior pass to Bretton Woods ski resort in New Hampshire.
This is a phenomenal opportunity to get your youngsters on the slopes at a major New England ski resort, for FREE. That’s a pretty good deal anyway you look at it. As parent of the youngster, you get to purchase a Bretton Woods adult season pass at pre-season pricing. Also a pretty good deal.
But, the offer is only good for seasonal lease packages purchased at Avie’s Ski / Sports BEFORE December 17, 2018.
Sounds far away, but isn’t. And once the holiday hysteria settles in, it gets closer faster!
If this great offers sound interesting, click THIS LINK to get more detail.
Mark your calendars! Avie’s Ski / Sports will be having Bruce Diehl from SWIX coming to the shop on Thursday, December 13th at 6:00 PM. Bruce will be running a SWIX tuning clinic for Avie’s ski and snowboard customers.
If you have been thinking about tuning your own skis or snowboard, now is the time to put your thinking into action. Mark your calendar with the date and time above. The SWIX tuning clinic will take place at Avie’s Ski / Sports at 100 Main Street in Westerly, RI.
The SWIX Tuning Clinic is FREE
Bruce Diehl from SWIX will demonstrate the following tuning tasks:
Shaping, sharpening, and maintaining edges
Using the SWIX Eco Pro Tuner
Cleaning the ski base
Applying prep/conditioning wax
Choosing and applying the proper “wax of the day”
Proper scraping technique
Hand and roto-brushing
New England Skiers Need To Be “In Tune”
Here in New England, having sharp edges is a real necessity. Much of our time on the slopes sees crusty, hard pack, and even icy surface conditions. Sharp edges set at the correct angle will help your ski or snowboard bite into the snow surface. Bruce Diehl will demonstrate during the SWIX tuning clinic how to get your edges in shape to handle the often harsh New England conditions.
Too many times I see ski and snowboard bottoms that look like the image on the right. They should look like the image on the left. It’s a shame. Skis and snowboards without wax just don’t slide well. What’s the purpose in that?
Bruce Diehl will demonstrate how to properly clean the base and apply a conditioning wax. The base is then ready to accept a wax designed for a given range of temperatures. Sound complicated? Not really. Especially after Bruce walks us through the SWIX line of “designer” waxes and their proper use and application.
Waxing Is Critical
During the SWIX tuning clinic, Bruce will show how to remove the wax properly by scraping. That will be followed by a demonstration of how to buff the base—using a hand brush and when using a roto-brush tool—to a super slick, super fast finish.
Waxing is critical. When you see me go flying by you on a flatter section of the ski slope, it’s not because I’m such a wonderful skier. It’s because I’m such a wonderful ski waxer! Wax makes a huuuuuuuge difference!
So be sure to get to Bruce Diehl’s tuning clinic. It’s at Avie’s Ski / Sports. It’s FREE.
Thursday December 13th at 6:00 PM.
Plan on the SWIX tuning clinic to last for about an hour or so. Actual length will depend on how many questions get posed as Bruce Diehl from SWIX works through the process of tuning a ski or snowboard to perfection.
To help us gauge interest and get the shop set up to accommodate those that plan to attend, please RSVP to: email@example.com You may want to also check out Avie’s Ski / Sports Do-It-Yourself web page on ski and snowboard maintenance as a primer to the SWIX tuning clinic.
For those who attend the clinic, Avie’s Ski / Sports will offer 20% discount on SWIX tuning tools and supplies directly following the clinic.
Right now there are several pair of Blizzard Firebird Race Ti skis at Avie’s Ski / Sports. A lot of folks, myself included, don’t really think about getting race skis. If you don’t race, why bother thinking about getting a pair of race skis? I sure wouldn’t. But I did.
Here’s my race ski story
I have a pair of great carving skis—Volkl RTM 84—that are my “go to” sticks. They are great all over the mountain. But at 84 mm in the waist, I admit they are a bit tiring on busy days when lots and lots of sharp, tight turns are being made. In other words, they are a bit of pain on those slope-side days when it’s more like people dodging than skiing. Namely, weekends.
I have a pair of lighter, wood core skis—Nordica NRGy 90—that are pretty good on a powder day and great on the slopes when the corduroy is soft. But they aren’t so good on hard pack and because they are wider still, even more tiring on a busy day of people dodging.
So last year I was thinking about a new pair of skis. I wanted something a bit shorter in length and definitely narrower at the waist. I wanted something that would be good on the hard pack. They had to be able to make lots of sharp, fast turns. They had to be good at people dodging.
From Carver to Racer
I knew that meant carving skis. Shorter and narrower however than the Volkl RTM skis. I had skied a pair of Blizzard Quattro 8.4 Ti skis a couple of times, and was quite impressed and liked them a lot. So I was prepared to pick up a pair. Maybe 174 cm or so in length, and maybe 76 mm or 78 mm at the waist.
So I dropped into Avie’s Ski / Sports and told Ted about the new skis I was interested in getting. His response was, “Get a pair of race skis.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Full camber for more fun,” was the reply. “And they’re race skis.”
I just wanted something fun and easy to ski on busy days. I thought that race skis would be total overkill for what I wanted. I really had no intention of racing. I was skeptical.
But Ted has never really given me bad advice. At least so far as ski gear is concerned. So I considered what he suggested. But I still thought it was overkill to be on a pair of race skis simply for dodging people.
After some further thinking, I decided, what the heck. If I really didn’t like the race skis, I could sell them and go with my original idea for the Blizzard Quattro short and narrow option. So a pair of Blizzard Quattro RS skis were ordered—174 mm in length, 69 mm in the waist.
Smile A Mile
The skis arrived. I waxed them up nice and slick and headed to Okemo to give them a try. When I saw Ted the next day, he asked “How were they?” “Okay,” was my response.
Yeah, my first time out on the race skis was not the best. I had picked up some kind of bug and probably shouldn’t have gone skiing. But I did. Needless to say I got the kind of day on the slopes I deserved for being so stupid.
So I took the skinny little Quattro RS skis back to Okemo the following week when I was healed and hale. At the end of the day my face hurt. From smiling such a big smile. A smile as wide as a mile. For so many hours on end.
Skis On Steroids
The thing about skis designed to race, is that they’re designed to race. That means they perform in ways unbeknownst to normal mortal skis. They truly are skis on steroids.
For starters, the bindings are designed differently. They are beefier and shock absorbing. Yeah, spring-loaded to completely dampen out vibrations. That means little to no chatter. That means superb grip all the way through the turns. No matter how tight or how fast.
The ski itself has carbon fiber layers from tip-to-tail. Laid down bi-directionally so that the ski has lots of liveliness. And the skis handle the transmission of power from boot-to-ski instantaneously. What all that means is they are fast into and out of the turns. They bite deep and hold fast.
In true race ski styling, the Quattro RS is a full camber ski. No rocker in this pair of sticks.
It took one run to figure them out. And only one run. My short description is—Light and lively. Powerful and performing. Graceful and gratifying.
What it’s like to own race skis
It had a been a while since I had been on a pair of full camber skis. Rocker has been all the craze and I had forgotten how responsive full camber skis are in the turns. And with such a narrow ski, I honestly could not believe how fast they went into and out of turns. With the race-designed bindings, coupled with the carbon fiber inlays, there was no hint of chatter at the tips, and no slipping in the turns. None.
But a word of warning. They really don’t like to go slow. They turn at slow speeds, obviously. But they feel sluggish and weird. Not very responsive is an adequate descriptor. Dormant also does it. Once you get a bit of speed under them though, their mood changes completely. You need to be ready to let them run, and you need to have the ability as a skier to put them on edge.
With the Quattro RS skis connected to my ski boots, it didn’t matter where I went on the mountain. I do admit however, that they were most fun on the steeper slopes. At Okemo, Chief offered a really fun run. So I skied it run after run after run. On another day I skied every black diamond at Okemo—except mogul runs. The Quattro RS skis were pure joy on every single run.
The biggest difference I can state about skiing on race skis is this—Confidence. I love my Volkl RTMs. They are great skis. But there are times when I need to put on the brakes because I know they will slip in a turn. With the Quattro RS skis, once I had used them a couple times and knew how they responded underfoot, I never even considered that they would slip in a turn. And they didn’t.
I can honestly say that 2017 was the most fun I have had skiing in a while. The Blizzard Quattro RS skis made that happen. The feeling of standing at the top of a steep slope looking down over the ski tips, knowing that I could—and would—go down with grace and ease at high speed, was exhilarating.
Because the skis were fast and nimble, and because I didn’t have to fight them through turns, I didn’t get nearly as tired. So I could ski harder for longer periods of time. Which is a pretty good trade-off in my ledger book.
A Whole New View On People Dodging
I never did take out the Quattro RS skis on a weekend. Which is funny because that’s why I was in the market for a new pair of skis. I wanted something “turny” for those crowded weekend-day trips to the slopes. And I found that in the Blizzard Quattro RS skis. But I found myself driving up weekdays—skiing the day then driving home—so I could point them down slope and carve my way to the bottom. Unimpeded.
So I don’t really know how they are at people dodging. My guess though, is they will be pretty awesome. I am however, already thinking about mid-week trips where they get a chance at unbridled freedom on the slopes. They honestly are that much fun.
If you are in the market for a new pair of skis, and you love carving up the slopes, give race skis a bit of thought. Several pair of Blizzard Firebird Race Ti skis are hanging around Avie’s Ski / Sports waiting to introduce someone to a whole lot of fun.
Try Before You Buy
If you’re not sure about having a pair of super skinny sticks underfoot, you can grab a pair of Firebird “demo skis” at Avie’s and try them out. If, after a trial run with them, you love ’em—and you likely will—you can deduct the rental fee from the cost of the ski. That’s a pretty sweet deal.
I admit I never really gave race skis much thought. It was a mistake on my part, and I’m glad Ted pointed me in a good direction. So I am passing that tip along in hopes you might take heed and give race skis some thought. Better yet, just take them out on the slopes and let them help you decide.
There are lots of great skis at Avie’s Ski / Sports right now. Blizzard Firebird Race Ti is just one of many. If you are thinking about new skis or ski boots this season, check out the new “Skier Need To Know—Skis” and “Skier Need To Know—Boots” pages. These new Avie’s resources will help you think about what might be the BEST ski or ski boot for you.
Killington is open. Mount Snow is open. Snow is falling up north, and the White Mountains turned very white this past week. The trees aren’t barren of leaves down here along the coast just yet, but up north winter has crept in. And Avie’s ski and ride trips list 2019 is ready.
Avie’s Ski / Sports has put together it’s ski and ride bus trip list for 2019. This year we visit Mount Snow, Stratton, Okemo and Killington in Vermont, and Loon and Waterville Valley in New Hampshire.
For those of you able, or willing, to break away on a Wednesday, Avie’s has trips going to Okemo, Loon and Killington mid-week so you can ski and ride on days when the crowds are thin.
And, if the weather holds, there is even a Bonus trip on the Sunday after the Customer Appreciation Trip, which traditionally is the last Avie’s trip of the year. Why? Because the last couple of years the snow has still been good through end of March and even into early April.
An Avie’s Ski and Ride Trip is the best bargain around
Prices are still being determined, but Avie’s Ski / Sports always gives it’s ski and ride bus trip patrons the absolute best price that can be gotten. You can bet that the deal will be about the same as always. You get transportation to and from the mountain AND a lift ticket for about what it would cost you to purchase only the lift ticket. Pretty sweet deal. And you don’t have to drive. Just chill and watch a movie, or just nod off for a few hours.
All trips originate from Avie’s Ski / Sports in Westerly, RI. For trips heading to a ski and ride destination in Vermont, there is a pick up at the Crystal Mall in Waterford, CT. Details are on the Avie’s Ski and Ride Trip page.
Here’s a couple tips for Avie’s Ski / Sports ski and ride trips.
First—These are a phenomenal deal. Family oriented. And fun.
Second—If you can get away on a Wednesday, these trips are the absolute best. The crowds don’t exist. You ski onto the lift all day long. It’s an exhaustingly fun day!
Third—Super Bowl Sunday the trip goes to Mount Snow, the quickest mountain to get to. NO ONE is on the slopes that day, especially in the afternoon. And the bus gets you back home at about half-time.
Avie’s Ski / Sports is looking forward to another incredible ski and ride season. And we look forward to sharing it with you.
The website has been refurbished and is flush with great information. Check it out, especially if you are contemplating purchasing new skis or boots this season. There is a new page—Skier Need To Know-Skis—to help you think through that new ski purchase (boots coming soon!). And right now Avie’s is flush with everything you want and need to make 2019 a great season in the snow.
Stop in and stock up for the season. And be sure to mark up your 2019 calendar with your Avie’s Ski and Ride trips!! I know I have. And I can’t wait to see old friends, and meet new ones.
Avie’s Ski / Sports is pleased to offer junior skiers and riders the opportunity to ski free at Bretton Woods with a FREE season pass.
Bretton Woods, New Hampshire’s largest ski resort, is nestled in the heart of the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The resort boasts 10 lifts, 97 trails, and 1,500 feet of vertical. A new 8 person gondola is on tap for the season.
All you need to do is purchase a seasonal lease package for your child or children under the age of 12 from Avie’s Ski / Sports BEFORE December 17, 2018.
The seasonal lease can be a ski or snowboard package. Doesn’t matter. Once you purchase the seasonal lease, you go to an online Bretton Woods registration page, and sign up your child or children for the Junior Pass Program. When you get to the resort, you pick up the pass. It’s about that simple. You will be provided a Bretton Woods Junior Pass Program brochure with all the details at the time of your seasonal lease purchase.
(1) Free night skiing for the Junior Pass holder. (2) Save $15 on one adult full day lift ticket when you ski Bretton Woods. (3) Save 10% on purchases at Bretton Woods retail shops. (4) Parents can purchase Bretton Woods Season Passes at early season rates.
THE FINE PRINT
(1) Program ends December 17, 2018. Seasonal leases purchased after this date are not eligible to apply for the free Junior Pass Program. (2) Child must have been born on or before December 31, 2005. (3) There is a $25 processing fee charged by Bretton Woods for registrations to the Junior Pass Program made after October 31, 2018. The processing fee to register for the Junior Pass Program increases to $119 starting December 21, 2018. (4) You must pick up your Junior Seasonal Pass at Bretton Woods by January 28, 2019. The Junior Pass cannot be mailed to you, it must be picked up in person.
If you haven’t been to the Avie’s Ski / Sports website in a while, you may want to check it out. Click the Avie’s button way down bottom. That will get to the newly redesigned Avie’s Ski / Sports home page. But first, read on just a bit farther to see what’s in store—pun intended.
For the past few years Avie’s has been displaying skis in an online store. We felt this was an easy and effective way to display gear and pricing. But we really don’t encourage people to buy ski equipment online. So it was a bit of and ideological conflict.
Buying online hurts brick-and-mortar stores, like Avie’s Ski / Sports. In person is where you get service and build a relationship. Buy online, you still have to go to a brick-and-mortar shop to have bindings mounted and adjusted. If something goes wrong with your online purchase? You need to deal long distance with the issue. Sometimes with less than great results. Had the purchase been made at a brick-and-mortar shop, like Avie’s Ski / Sports, the problem would be resolved quickly and amicably.
While you could buy ski boots online, why would you? They are just way too personal a piece of equipment. You need to walk into a shop where you can try on multiple pairs, sizes, and styles, to find the one just right for you. And you get a knowledgeable boot-fitter. They help you get into the right kind of boot for your ability and style as a skier. Can’t do that online.
Avie’s Online Store is lights out, doors locked.
Our intent with the website redesign is to give you much more information about the equipment. With a focus on what’s new for the season. That does not however, mean that the only gear in the store is what you see online. There is lots more gear at Avie’s Ski / Sports. You just need to stop in to see it all, live and in person. Which is just the way we like it.
For all the skis, snowboards, and boots, there is a page listing all the new gear for the 2018-2019 season, and pricing. Click on the brand name of the item you are interested in. Click BLIZZARD if interested in finding out more about Rustler 9, for instance. A new page will open with more detail about that ski. In almost all cases, there will be some input from Avie’s Ski Testers who have actually skied on the skis or in the boots.
You get more detail, and more perspective, by hearing what Avie’s Ski / Testers thought of a particular ski or ski boot. That’s the other bonus to coming to a brick-and-mortar shop, like Avie’s Ski / Sports. The folks working there are skiers and riders. They have tried out much if not most of the gear being sold. And we have in-store clinics where the reps from the brands come down and help us better understand the new technologies going into ski and boot creation. We pass that knowledge along to you, so you make better, more informed choices about what you buy.
All the winter sports pages have been updated (the summer pages will slowly get updated as well). And there is lots more information on each page to help you in your decision-making. There is also a new page, dedicated to Do-It-Yourself gear upkeep. We hope you find it both interesting and useful. But you won’t know until you check it out.
So, Avie’s found a new way to display all the new equipment and fun stuff that emerges on the market each and every fall season. Go ahead, check out the new website. Click the Avie’s button below. Then click SNOW SPORTS on the menu and go from there.
We will see you soon. When you stop in at Avie’s Ski / Sports. Let us know what you think of the website redesign. But mostly…
Ski resort changes are rampant for the upcoming season. And at least from what I can see, all of them good. Some of them fantastic. Here we give you a quick rundown of what changes we see coming up at the ski resorts that Avie’s Ski / Sports visits on ski and ride trips.
Killington has some exciting changes for this season. New for this year is a high speed bubble chair at Snowdon Mountain. Tunnels have been constructed along Great Northern so that skiers and riders on that trail go subterranean. Now folks coming down those very fun blue square trails at Snowdon can proceed downhill without worry of dodging crossing skiers and riders on Great Northern. That’s really nice.
Killington this year follows suit and will be using RFID lift ticketing. Many ski resorts have converted to the use of RFID ticketing. Personally, I love the RFID system. It is quick and easy. No liftie chasing after you to scan your pass. No standing around when the pass won’t scan until the 14th try. Some may miss the giant, bristling wad of lift tickets and wire wickets hanging off their jacket zipper. I won’t be one of them.
Killington has also installed a new lift in the South Ridge area. The new lift will bring skiers and riders to a point near Killington Peak where they can access the resort in most any direction. This will really help with traffic flow and allow much better access across the resort.
This year will be a very exciting year for skiers & riders.
Okemo has been purchased by Vail Resorts, Inc. Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire and Crested Butte in Colorado were also a part of that deal. No details or hints of change have been released at this point, though there are rumors of a bubble quad on the South Face in the near future. Given the sale just happened at end of September, we may not see any massive change for the upcoming season.
Mount Snow has a new lodge that will be open this season at the Carinthia area of the resort. New snow making guns will be firing up to blanket the area with snow made from a huge new water retention project that will improve snow making considerably. The one other tidbit for Mount Snow is that some portions of the Long John Trail, a beginners trail, are being significantly widened to improve skier and rider flow.
Stratton, keeping with the trends, has been purchased by Alterra Mountain Company, which owns 12 ski resorts. Stratton is their only New England holding. With this is coming a new high speed lift to the Snow Bowl area. This will be a great addition, reducing a 15 minute ride back to the top to only 4 minutes. Pretty sweet.
Loon has replaced their gondola cabins with new ones. No other changes on the mountain that I could find.
Resort changes are just the tip of the iceberg.
All these resort updates will bring some nice changes to our skiing and riding experiences this season. For sure. But that really is just a small part of what is really exciting for the 2018 – 2019 ski and ride season. Especially for skiers.
Skis are trending towards improved on piste performance and better carving on the groomers.
Based on race boot designs, ski boots are trending towards improved performance and fit.
Follow the Avie’s Ski / Sports blog so you don’t miss out as we report on what’s new. And there is lots. I will be posting something new every week. Hopefully this will help get you as excited for the new ski and ride season as I am. And that’s lots!
Fall foliage season is here. The trees are ablaze with color up north. Not peak just yet. Next week for sure. Frost will soon sparkle the ridges of ski country, then to be quickly followed, we hope, with a splendid cloak of fluffy snow.
Just a hint of fall foliage
Down along the coast a hint of fall foliage color is in the trees. Just a hint. The nearby ocean stretches the warmth, delaying the debut of color. Because of that, I think we along the coast tend to forget winter comes sooner a few hundred miles north. While we are still raking leaves in late November, the slopes up north are white—at least in places—and the lifts are spinning.
Now is the time to get your head in the game. The ski and ride game. Avie’s Ski / Sports has magically transformed, like foliage to follow, from summer to winter. The North Face winter attire is festooned along the walls. Smartwool socks are walking in the door and gaining a foothold. Skis bristle atop their ledge. A panorama of snowboards draw the eye.
The North Face is at Avie’s Ski / Sports!
Yes, Avie’s Ski / Sports is filling to the brim with winter gear for the 2018 – 2019 season. And so much NEW stuff to look over. The North Face line of apparel has greatly expanded. More styles. Lots more styles. More colors. Lots more colors.
Now is a good time to stop in the Avie’s Ski / Sports to check out the new inventory. In fact, now is a great time. Great because the selection, unlike the foliage, is near its peak.
More inventory is on its way for sure. Ski poles, gloves, more skis and snowboards, more socks and hats. But The North Face has made its presence in full force. Now is the best time to find the style, color and size of the ski parka, ski pants, or stylish around-town jacket that you want—need?—for the upcoming fall and winter season.
Like the foliage, the peak only lasts for so long. Then it wanes. On the bright side, Avie’s can restock before next spring blossoms. But what can be refilled is limited to what the manufacturers have in stock. Sadly, as time goes on even the brand makers run shy of popular styles, colors, and sizes.
Time and tide wait for no man, or woman. Our time is slipping, slowly, into the time of snow. Now is a good time to embrace the future. That future is only a few short months away. Then it truly will be…Game On!
Though not considered winter snow sports, our next door neighbor built the Taj Mahal of chicken coops last season. Complete with multi-colored lighting, flowers, and other enticing egg-laying decor. Secretly, I think the Taj Mahal coop is equipped with air conditioning and a home theater. The chickens love it, and lay dozens upon dozens of eggs. And then for no apparent reason, egg production slowed.
I thought it might be the rusty chain link fence surrounding my wood pile. It did look pretty shabby all of a sudden. The ripped and tattered blue tarp on top didn’t add much either. Maybe the horrid sight depressed the hens.
I did need wood for the coming winter. So I decided to upgrade rusty fence for a classy and classic lean-to-style woodshed. I hoped that would put “The Girls,” as neighbor Lisa refers to them, back on the nest.
The new shed looks great with the Taj Mahal chicken coop in the background. And it looks better still with a couple cords of split, seasoned hardwood in it.
I’m about set for winter. Are you?
Farmer’s Almanac is saying that for New England, expect snow. And lots of it. Their predictions are for greater amounts of snow than is usual. They are also predicting that significant snow will be seen by, and in, December. To be sure the snow sticks around, Farmer’s predicts colder than normal temperatures throughout the season. This is a great prediction for all us winter snow sports enthusiasts.
Oh yeah, I’m all for that!
It would be great to get in a half dozen or more days of skiing before Santa slides down the chimney. And I would be thrilled to see abundant snow continue all the way through until late March. I’ll even wish for the below normal cold. Provided that doesn’t mean the marrow-freezing cold we experienced last season between end of December and mid-January. That kind of cold put the damper on winter snow sports. It was so cold even ski lifts became belligerent, with many refusing to spin! No thank you. Keep that kind of cold up at the North Pole for the reindeer to enjoy.
So, are you ready? Ha ha. I know you aren’t. Temperatures have been floating into the 90s, even along the shore. So I know the only cold you are thinking about is the rapidly melting ice diluting your Dell’s.
The days however, have grown noticeably shorter. And the sun, while still hot, doesn’t carry the same fiery intensity it did a month ago. Yellow school buses have replaced out-of-state license plates. But the most telling change, is the morning bird song having been replaced by the evening chorus now provided by the End of Summer Insect Ensemble.
Winter snow sports enthusiasts take note!
This is not a cause for sadness! New ski and ride gear is beginning to show up at Avie’s Ski / Sports. While still in boxes, it won’t be long before the new “winter crop” of The North Face, Smartwool, and other apparel hangs from the racks. A rainbow will splash across the walls of the shop, made by the colors of this years bounty of new skis and snowboards, boots and poles.
While still it’s too early in the fall season to not stop in and pick up a new stand up paddle board—fall is perfect paddling weather—it’s not too early to start thinking about ski and ride season.
And this winter, there will be much to explore at Avie’s
Expect to see some twin tips and race skis available. There will be new brands, as well as the tried and true. While it’s always exciting to ogle the new skis and boards of the season, the real change up will be found in the ski boot section. Recent changes throughout the industry will be bringing along some great opportunities for your feet, especially those of you with wider feet.
Stay tuned to the Avie’s Ski / Sports Blog page as we help you prep for the upcoming season. New gear. New brands. New styles. And a new ski boot universe.
Oh yeah, the shed upgrade was well received. “The Girls” are back to filling the Taj Mahal to overflowing.
I just returned from a trip up to Mount Mansfield at Stowe with my daughter Allison. Last year she hiked the Long Trail. Solo. In 20 days. An incredible feat regardless how you look at it. We returned this year to make a father-daughter hike up to Vermont’s highest peak, together.
The story of our hike up Mount Mansfield however, is not the purpose of this post. Rather, it is just some ramblings about skiing the east that crept into my head as Allie and I made our climb up and down the rocky crags of northern Vermont.
Seeing the Stowe area mountains in summer made me realize something. While skiing and riding, we get a pretty jaded view of New England’s mountainous landscape. Everything is draped in a blanket of snow. There are few if any harsh lines in the landscape. Our world of white appears sculpted of smooth lines and gentle curves.
But climbing the rock face up the side of Mount Mansfield I see the ski slopes, up close and personal. And without that deceptive cloak of white that hides the harshness underneath. These New England hills are hard granite rife with fissures and crevices. Harsh angles cut of hard stone protrude. As we climb, trees become twisted dwarves of those below us. Limbs stunted on the windward side, longer on the lee. Heather, lichen, and alpine blueberry cling to the face of the rock. They struggle to avoid the fierce, desiccating wind that buffets Allison and I and shapes the life around us.
Such a harsh world of existence beneath the wooly white we find such glee in gliding over. I don’t often think about, when riding the chair back to the top of the ski slope, that hidden world underneath the snow. I’m thinking about the next run down the mountain.
The view from “The Chin,” the real summit point high atop Mount Mansfield, is of course remarkable. Scanning the 360º vista I see the slopes of Stowe and Smugglers far below and away. A shrill bird-like screech pierces the air and I catch a glimpse of a peregrine falcon plummeting down a cliff face. I know that next time I am riding the chair back to the top, I will remember these images. I will remember there is a secret landscape under my skis, beneath the blanket of snow, waiting for the warmth of spring to jump to life.
East, not West
Our New England hills are ancient in relation to the mountains out west. Once tall and majestic, eastern mountains were bull-dozed. Ground down and smoothed out by the unrelenting creep of mile-thick glacial ice thousands of years ago. They have since been sculpted by centuries of rain runoff and snow melt. Then cracked and split by never-ending cycles of freeze and thaw. Our New England hills are not majestic because of their staggering height. They are majestic for their stubborn tenacity and ability to maintain prominence regardless the forces at work tearing them apart.
New England mountains don’t reach to the lofty heights of western mountains. And they don’t have the benefit of a water-laden ocean on their windward side. Us eastern skiers and riders therefore don’t get seemingly endless epic powder days. We get a heavier, more moisture-laden snow that turns into hard-packed snow and ice. And that gives us some pretty challenging conditions to set an edge into. Hence the saying, “If you can ski the east, you can ski anywhere.”
Time Marches On
The clouds have now poured into the valleys on the eastern side of Mount Mansfield, and we can no longer see the trails carved out on Stowe and Smuggler’s Notch ski areas. To the west all is clear, but far to the north and west we see darker clouds that suggest some weather heading our way. Neither Allie nor I want to be on the exposed heights amidst a thunderstorm.
We take a final pause to bask in the beauty of the mountains one final time as the clouds race towards us. A 50-mile an hour gust pushes me off balance. A low hanging cloud swirls in tattered fragments around Allison who for a brief moment appears as a waif arising from the barren grey rock. Such a stark landscape. Such a beautiful a landscape.
Allison turns her head and our eyes meet. We share a look that says we both know we are in a very special place, sharing a moment in time that will forever stay etched in memory. We turn our gazes to the rock beneath our feet and begin the quiet trek down off the heights.