Killington Greets Avie’s

Thirty patrons of Avie’s Ski / Sports ventured forth to Killington ski resort yesterday, Wednesday March 13th, for a bit of skiing and riding. And it was quite a day!

Upon arrival, 153 of 155 trails were open for skiers and riders. That’s an impressive amount of territory to play in. If you can’t find something to suit your fancy in that array of trails, time to think about partaking in a different sport.

Winds were light to non-existent, and the sun wanted to play hide and seek. Then it just decided to hide, at least until early afternoon. Temperatures were in the high 20s in the morning, jumping into the low 30s early afternoon. It was warm enough where you didn’t get cold, and cold enough where you didn’t get hot. Pretty much perfect in other words.

Conditions ran what I consider the typical New England gauntlet for this time of year. Firm and fast early, with those trails that were groomed having some nice crunchy corduroy ribs to sink an edge into. As the day progressed and warmed, the snow softened. Particularly in those areas that were in the sun when it poked through for a mid-day visit. Late in the day, since the sun went back into hiding, most surfaces refroze, providing for some fast last runs.

Overall, conditions were ideal. Fantastic even. And that was quite evident on the faces of the 30 Avie’s skiers and riders as they made their way off slope and onto the bus for the return trip. All smiles. No grumbles—other than wishing it didn’t have to end.

Snow conditions up in ski country continue to be incredible. While northern New England has not seen—at least not yet—the major March dumps of white stuff experienced last year, they have received multiple smaller but significant snowfall events. No bare spots, not many icy patches, and still a ton of snow on the trails and in the woods. It’s mid-March and most ski areas are, or nearly, 100% open!

The bottom line is—get out there and enjoy these incredible conditions while they continue. There is still lots of skiing and riding left, but we are indeed on the “downhill slope home” for this season.

Avie’s Ski / Sports has it’s well loved—and for good reason—Customer Appreciation Trip taking place this Sunday, March 17, heading to Okemo. Ted comes along and brings all kinds of ski and snowboard “bling” to give away. All of it interesting and all of it useful in some way or another. All the Avie’s staff are also along. Coffee and donuts for the ride up. Snacks and water for the ride home. All in all it’s a really fun time.

And there is still space available for the March 17 trip to Okemo. But those seats will not stay empty for long, so don’t dawdle too long over deciding to go or not. The weather looks to be in the twenties on Sunday the 17th, and Okemo is famed for their incredible groomers. Looks to be a good day for ripping up some corduroy!!

Join Ted, I, and the rest of the Avie’s Ski / Sports staff for a day of fun.

See you this Sunday.

AlanD

Okemo — Firm and Fast

Allison and I stopped in at Okemo on our way back south. The day before at Killington had been epic. Three to four inches of powder in the morning, following by dumping snow all afternoon that led to late day “fresh tracks.”

How could Okemo beat that? We weren’t sure, but we were not disappointed.

The morning started out cold, about 5 degrees at the base lodge. But the sky was aquiline blue with nary a cloud to be seen. Just a hint of a breeze tickled the trees at the summit.

We scooted over to Jackson Gore to start the day. The run down Blue Moon to the lift warmed up the muscles. Then a drop down Quantum Leap under the lift made for an exhilarating start. Allison’s goal for the day was to break the 40 mph mark. That happened on Quantum Leap and her day was off to an even better start. Mission accomplished!

We hit all the trails at Jackson Gore, then picked our way back toward the main face, hitting all the trails in the Solitude area on the way. Chief, World Cup, and several others flew by under us as we hit the main face of the resort.

The day stayed cold but sunny, and the slopes stayed firm and fast.

Conditions were totally different than the day before at Killington. But in a very positive way. Okemo was 100% open, all 121 trails ready for skiers and riders. Most trails were groomed up in the exquisite style for which Okemo is famed. The firm base under the beautiful corduroy stripes made for delicious carving.

And carve we did. My feet were nested in Dalbello DS 130 boots, which were clicked into my Volkl RTM 84s. They are a beautiful couple. Carving—at any speed—is done with confidence, fearlessly, and with great joy. Allison was strapped onto her new Ride Saturday deck, carving her way down the slopes with ease and grace.

Our only regret was that the day had to end. Conditions up north in ski country are about as good as it gets. So get out and get some of those goods!

This Sunday, March 10th, the Avie’s Ski and Ride Trip heads to Okemo. You can have the chance to get out and lay down some carves, dodge trees, slide rails, and bounce some bumps. It’s all there and waiting for you. Don’t let great snow conditions slip through your fingers.

And don’t forget—Wednesday March 13th Avie’s heads to Killington. If you’ve not been to Killington on a weekday when the rest of humanity is at work or school, you are missing one of life’s great pleasures.

Conditions are great. Right now. Enjoy!

Alan & Allie D

Killington — March 4

I am up at Killington for my annual father-daughter ski and ride trip with my daughter Allison. We arrived late Sunday afternoon and by the time we were done with dinner, it was snowing. And it snowed all night leaving behind 3 or 4 inches of snow.

The crowd factor was pretty typical for a weekday. No wait at any lift except the K-2 gondola, which had maybe 10 or 15 people in front of us the really busy time we took it to the summit. Lift lines at the other lifts were nonexistent.

First Run

Our first run of the day was Great Eastern, summit to base, non-stop. Despite being a beginner trail, with no one on it in front of you, and if you just point the skis down, it can be a fun ride. And it’s a great way to wake up those leg muscles. From there we roamed all over the resort, and there is plenty of space to roam around.

It was snowing lightly when we broke for lunch about noon. And the snow simply kept coming on heavier and heavier throughout the afternoon. Our last few runs of the day, over at Ramshed, were through untracked powder an inch or two deep along the edges of the trails.

At days end, the view from the Long Trail Pub was such that we could not see even halfway up the beginner slope as Snowshed. It was dumping snow at a prodigious rate.

Needless to say it was an incredible day on the hill. According to Allison’s tracking device, we skied more than 25 miles and over 31,000 vertical feet with top speeds of about 40 miles per hour. I honestly don’t know if the numbers are impressive or not, but we sure had lots of fun making them.

Incredible Conditions

Bottom line is that conditions are absolutely incredible up here in ski country. Killington was 100% open. All 155 trails ready for someone to play on. It really can’t get any better than that. Toss in the new Snowdon 6-pack bubble lift, a few new tunnels on Great Northern to remove those previously nasty congestion areas, and Wow! is the word.

My recommendation is to come get some of this stuff. Luckily enough, Avie’s Ski / Sports is running a ski and ride bus trip up here to Killington this coming Wednesday, March 13th. Remember, March is historically the snowiest month in Vermont. And conditions are already phenomenal.

Tomorrow we head south. But there is a stop at Okemo on the way. That helps reduce the separation anxiety that I am sure both Allison and I will have leaving this incredibly snowy, incredibly fun winter playground.

I’ll be sure to update you on conditions at Okemo, where they got even a bit more snow than that which fell up here in Killington. In the meantime, check your schedule, then free it up so you can be on the bus to Killington next Wednesday,

AlanD

Dalbello Krypton vs. Dalbello DS

The title sounds like a cyber-style remake of a “Rocky” movie, or the next sequel to one of the many super hero type movies out there. But it’s not that far fetched. And more importantly, it’s about skiing.

Last fall I had a post titled “Ski Boots—Year of the Boot.” In that post I made mention that I would get out another post about differences between 3-buckle cabrio and 4-buckle overlap boots. So here is that post.

So you better understand the starting point, both boots were used pretty much “out-of-the-box.” The liners in the Krypton Pro boots were heat fitted. I did not heat fit the DS 130 boots because they felt great right out of the box. In each boot the factory provided footbed was replaced with a Sidas 3Feet custom footbed, sold at Avie’s Ski / Sports.

The History

For the past few seasons I have been skiing in a pair of Dalbello Krypton Pro 130 boots. These are a 3-buckle cabrio boot with a 130 flex rating. They are very snug fitting, high performing boots.

Cabrio style ski boots have 3 buckles, making for very easy foot entry, and exit. It is almost as easy as slipping into a regular pair of shoes. Seriously. No grunting or groaning or twisting and turning of the foot to try and jam it into the boot. Pull apart the liner and in the foot goes.

But this year Dalbello came out with the new DS line of boots, whose design is taken right off the mechanical drawings for their DSR race boots. The Avie’s sales rep for Dalbello, Scott Heald, took us through how DS boots are put together from different injection molds to add stiffness while reducing weight. Scott had been skiing in Krypton Pro 130s and made the jump into DS 130s. So I figured I would try the same, see what I thought, then pass that along to you.

The Contenders

Krypton Pro 130 is a 3-buckle, cabrio-style, freeride, 98 mm last (width) ski boot. The boots are stiff, narrow, and high performance. They provide progressive flex as the tongue of the boot is pressured by the skier. The progressive flex allows the skier a great deal of finesse in how power is applied to the ski. The boot and liner are also designed to be more impact absorbing. These are great assets for those playing in the park, the bumps, and the woods.

DS 130 is a 4-buckle, overlap-style, 100 mm last (width) ski boot. They are a stiff, high performance boot designed after the Dalbello DSR race boot. That little bit of extra width provides for a little bit more comfort. Power transmission to the ski is nearly immediate, and precise. These are great assets for corduroy carving control freaks who want a bit more comfort than that provided by traditional race boots.

In The Shop

Entry | Exit

The first difference I noticed is that the DS 130 boots, like all 4-buckle overlap boots, were way less fun to get my feet into. I admit I was a bit out of practice after sliding my foot oh-so-sweetly into that pair of Krypton Pro boots for the past few years. Round One—ease of entry and exit—definitely goes to the Krypton Pro. Hand downs, no questions asked. Not even a close comparison.

Fit | Comfort

Once in the DS 130, the fit is quite nice. The newly redesigned liners are plush and comfortable. Despite the extra 2 mm of width—which I thought might be too much space—the boot fit incredibly well. I always had just a bit too little room in the toe box of the Krypton Pro boots, especially for my left foot, which is a bit bigger than my right foot. It’s not that Krypton Pro is uncomfortable, but they are not comfortable. The DS 130 fit was quite comfortable. That made up for the struggle to get into them. Round Two—comfort without any fitting—goes to the DS 130 boot.

Heel Hold | Positioning

While the DS 130 boots were very, very comfortable—no worries about keeping them on all day long—I did wonder if that extra 2 mm would be too much once clamped in and I was flexing into the front of the boot and tongue. But once I clamped down and adjusted the micro-adjusting buckles for a snug fit, I found my heel to be nestled nicely in the heel pocket of the boot. When I flexed forward and tried to lift my heel, it felt no different than the response in the Krypton Pro boots. Round Three—foot position and heel hold down—was a tie.

Standing around in the lodge or living room or ski shop in a pair of ski boots is a bit different than having them out on the slopes and clicked into a pair of bindings attached to skis. So off I went with the Dalbello DS 130 boots to the slopes to give them a workout.

On The Slopes

I have skied the DS 130 boots a couple times now. Each session was on my “go to” Volkl RTM 84 skis so that I had a good reference point for comparison to the Krypton Pro 130 boots. I skied on beginner, intermediate and expert trails. In all instances a big focus was on carving, and how the boots would make the skis respond and perform. That’s how I normally play on the slopes, so it makes for a fair comparison. Conditions were typical New England conditions—packed powder groomers that had hard crust underneath, with patches of ice here and there on the trail.

On slope, a first, and quite noticeable difference was that the DS boots put me up over the skis more so than the Krypton Pro boots. This is likely due to the slightly different forward lean characteristics of each of the boots. The stance puts the skier in a more positive position for controlling the skis quickly and powerfully, as a ski racer would want and need.

Ski Control

There is a distinct and definite difference in how the boots make the skis respond. Krypton Pro 130 gives a more subtle command to the skis to respond, reducing that subtlety in a progressive fashion as pressure into the front of the boot is increased. DS 130 produced more or less immediate response from the skis when pressure was applied. Increased pressure to the front of the boot pushed more power into the response of the ski, but in a very immediate way with the DS 130 boots.

Krypton Pro 130 allowed for a bit of relaxation; I could get in the “back seat” a bit and not have the skis decide they could have their own way. Not so with the DS 130 boots; there was a definite “tipping point.” When I backed off, relaxing just a bit too much in my stance over the skis, control was diminished, and quickly.

I thought I could carve a ski pretty good in my Dalbello Krypton Pro 130 boots. And I could. But not nearly as well as when my feet were slipped into the Dalbello DS 130 boots. The 4-buckle overlap style boots gave complete and immediate control so I could tip the ski and bury the edge into the snow quickly and with great power. In the Krypton Pro 130 boots, tipping the skis into the snow was a slower, more progressive action that ended in a carve, but one that was not nearly as forceful and complete as from the DS 130 boots.

The Winner

Krypton Pro 130 is a winner because of their ease of entry and exit, and because of their progressive flex nature. They allow me to totally control, with a great degree of finesse, how I want to power the skis.

DS 130 is a winner because of their greater width and comfort, and for their ability to power the ski the way I want immediately and forcefully.

So which boot wins Round Four—Control? Each boot handles control in a rather different fashion, so it would depend on any individual skier to make that judgement. That’s a good thing because it gives skiers some interesting options.

You can already see the endpoint of this debate—there is no single “winner.” Because the contest really isn’t equal. The winner will be whatever boot style best fits your style of skiing. But how might you decide which boot style—cabrio or overlap—is the best for you?

What’s Best For You?

Check out Avie’s Ski / Sport website page for ski boots: “Skier Need To Know—Boots.” This page will help you think through and then find the ski boot that might be best for you.

Which Is Best For Me?

After all this, what’s best for me? Honestly, I don’t know. I have worn the Krypton Pro 130 boots for several seasons, and so they feel like an extension of my legs at this point. Not so for DS 130 because I have only skied them a few times. So I know I need more time in them to really get a feel for how they behave, and how I get along with that behavior, in a broader range of conditions.

I love the snug fit of the Krypton Pro boots, and the easy going but highly responsive nature they show across the mountain, in all conditions. I adore the ease of entry and exit. But they are not what I would call a “comfortable” ski boot.

I love the comfort provided by the DS 130 boots. And I adore their ability to quickly and powerfully drive the skis into deep, graceful, powerful carves. They leave me speechless in that department. But I am not a fan of putting them on, or taking them off. But once the feet are in them, oh such comfort!

I am going to keep the DS 130 boots close by, and use them as much as possible over the remainder of the season. I am very much looking forward to clicking them into my Blizzard Quattro RS race skis. That ought to be a match make in heaven. But I don’t intend on making planters out of the Krypton Pro 130 boots. I plan to take them out here and there to refresh my memory, and to compare.

But my feet sure do love that comfortable feeling…

AlanD

Finding My Mojo At Stratton

Stratton was my skiing destination on Wednesday. I needed some slope time.

Conditions were great. Fast and firm on most trails, with some a bit softer where there had no doubt been some man-made snow mixed into the corduroy stripes. The ungroomed trails, from my view of them as I rode the chairlift, were lumps of hard snow with troughs of ice in between. I didn’t venture into the ungroomed territory.

I was a bit hesitant about going because it’s a holiday week with lots of schools being on winter break. But it sure didn’t look like a holiday week. There were 4 cars at the Sun Bowl when I pulled in shortly before 8:00 AM. It was about 3 degrees when I arrived. But without a whisper of wind to be felt, the temp was quite bearable.

For the first few hours there were very few skiers or riders out and about. A number of trails were closed, or partially closed, for various free-style and race training events. So there were lots of school kids on the slopes, but they were all clustered in those areas where the training sessions were being held. That left more than enough mountain to play on.

I’m heading off on an annual trip to Killington with my daughter Allison in a couple of weeks. We hit the slopes long and hard, with numerous unofficial challenges to see who gets top-to-bottom first. Each year the challenge, for me at least, gets tougher and tougher. Last year was the first year she beat me down the hill. Not by much, but a clear and clean, unofficial win.

No Confidence & Self-Doubt

As I have said, I needed some slope time. For some reason, and I don’t know why, I have been struggling to ski well this season. Actually that’s not true. The struggle part is true, but not that I don’t know why. I just lost confidence in myself, creating huge self-doubt. That’s the “I don’t know why” part.

I ended last season skiing a pair of Blizzard Quattro RS race skis, skiing stronger, faster, and more confidently than ever that I can remember. What happened between now and then to shake my confidence to the point it toppled over and shattered? Like I said, I don’t know. But it happened.

So there I was at Stratton. I took a first run down Black Bear, caught an edge and almost fell. Next run I ducked under the gondola and went over to the broad, gentle “meadows” trails for beginners. Caught an edge and almost fell. I wondered if I should head home before I got hurt.

I took a quick break in the lodge and had a hot chocolate. This whole thing was idiotic. The problem was in my head, and only my head, and the question was how do I get it out of my head? I could not stomach the thought of an oh-so-disappointing trip to Killington where I would be afraid to ski. There had to be some way to unknot that part of my brain saying “can’t do this.”

I decided I would go back to the summit and ski my most favorite, and least favorite, single trail at Stratton. How can a single trail be both most, and least, favorite simultaneously you ask? And just what trail at Stratton might that be? That trail would be Kidderbrook.

Upper Kidderbrook is big and wide with a few nice steep sections where you can ski a real “fall line” because the trail is basically straight up-and-down. Lower Kidderbrook is a narrow, twisty-turny, not very steep section of trail taking you back to the chairlift. Right at the end, just when you think it’s over, you have to scale a small hill to get up to the lift.

It’s my favorite trail because of the exhilarating plunge down the upper portion. My least favorite because you have to wind your way along the long, slow runout back to the lift, then scale a hill to actually get to it. Fun on the upper. Fun-sucking on the lower. Technically it’s two trails, but functionally it’s one. If you ski the upper, you must ski the lower.

Confidence Building

Why Kidderbrook? It’s a confidence builder. Kidderbrook is the trail I have brought daughters, nieces, and friends onto as they progress from beginner to confident, advancing intermediate. I take them when I see that their skills are good enough, but they are convinced they just aren’t ready ski or ride a black diamond, expert trail.

I hustle them past the trailhead sign which clearly says “Experts Only” and shows a black diamond (or two) in front of every trail name. The trail starts easy. On the first plunge, the width of the trail makes it seem more manageable somehow. No woods or twists and turns to worry about on the steep plunge down. And then, at the bottom of the second drop off, you stop and have them look back up the hill.

From that vantage, Kidderbrook looks as steep and challenging as it actually is. All I say, as they gaze back up the hill in awe is, “That’s a black diamond, and you just came down it.” They then realize they just slid down a really steep, expert, black diamond trail and didn’t die! The newly found “expert” basks in that great feeling all the way back to the lift and says. “Let’s do that again!” I of course say, “Let’s find another black diamond to master.”

That’s why I was sliding over the snow at the start of Upper Kidderbrook trail at Stratton. For some reason, and I don’t know why, even before I hit the first headwall on Upper Kidderbrook, I felt that focus come back into my head. The thick, nasty miasma rooted in my skull thinned like morning fog over water as a gentle breeze begins to blow. And the body responded. The skis tipped into the snow, the edges bit deep, and we carved our way down the fall line. Confidently.

I went back to the summit and skied down Tamarack. Then down Upper Standard. And then anywhere and everywhere, that was groomed. The skis responded as they should. As I knew they could, as I knew they would.

I don’t know how the fog of “no-confidence and self-doubt” got into my head, but I hope it doesn’t come back. It’s so very frustrating a thing to feel like you can’t do something that you darn well know you can. The nasty no-confidence, self-doubt thinking creates a self-fulfilling, self-feeding cycle of doubt that takes solid root and blossoms.

Fortunately, there’s Kidderbrook, confidence builder. I got my mojo back and working. Now I can look forward to Killington, knowing that I can at least keep Allison in sight as she rips down the slopes in front of me. If she is in front of me that is.

AlanD

Lovin’ Loon

Went to bed Tuesday night and it was snowing hard. Woke up Wednesday morning to 5 or 6-inches of fresh white stuff on the ground. Fortunately, the bed was in Lincoln, NH. About 2 miles away from the lifts at Loon Mountain. I had the feeling it was going to be a pretty good day.

Temperature in the morning was about 30 degrees. By the end of the first two runs I had every zipper unzipped that could be unzipped. Well, almost every. We didn’t want to get too risqué on the slopes.

The conditions the day before were great, and the addition of fresh snow made things just perfect. The mountain ops team left a few trails ungroomed. Most trails however, had a nice mix of options. Groomed corduroy was striped down one-half to two-thirds the width of the trail, the remainder was ungroomed. So you could play on either surface. Or both if you wanted to dash in and out along their intersection. I thought that was a really nice touch.

A group of “ski testers” from Avie’s were at Loon, testing skis. And then of course there was Matt, the lone “snowboard tester.” But he wasn’t complaining. In fact, he had a huge grin on his face every single time we crossed paths on the slopes.

On Tuesday, later in the afternoon, I clicked my boots into a pair of new for next year Nordica Soul Rider 87 twin tips. I stayed on those skis for the rest of the day. They were amazing skis. Light, fun, turny, lots of “pop.” Just plain old big time fun.

The Soul Rider 87s took me down the edges of the trails. As it often does late in the day, the edges of the trails are where the snow has piled up. The Soul Rider 87s had me doing super twisty-turny-tight cuts and carves. It was a blast. I couldn’t believe how playful the Soul Rider twins were.

At the same time though, they were serious skis. When we went out to the center part of the trail, onto the ice and crust that was scraped clean of snow, I expected them to slide and chatter their way across. But they didn’t. The edges bit in and held in carves across the ice. Wow!

The down side of all those tight, twisty-turny carves was a black toenail at days end. It was painful to get my foot into my ski boots the next morning. Very painful. But, we were at “Demo Days” where all the manufacturers are there with gear to try. So I left my boots in the car and went to Dalbello to try out the newly redesigned Panterra ski boots. They had the Panterra 120 in my size, so I slipped into a pair.

Demo Days dealer tents at Loon Mountain.

The first thing I noticed was that the boots were significantly lighter than previous models. And I do mean significantly lighter. Like maybe a third lighter. Another unique feature of the redesign is that the new Panterra has an adjustable last from 100 to 102 mm. Last is the width of the boot, if you forgot. I liked that adjustable width feature a lot.

My Dalbello Krypton 130s are a 98 mm last, so the Panterra boots gave my hurting left toe a bit more room. And because they are adjustable width, I let that toe box be a bit wider than the right foot, which I snugged up more tightly. The result were boots that I could ski in without being tormented by the injured toe.

And the Panterra 120 boots were very nice to ski. They sport a 4-buckle cabrio design, so there is a nice progressive range of flex and response to the skis. That was particularly nice when jumping back and forth between the groomed and ungroomed parts of the ski runs. Back off a bit in the powder, and drive into the boots harder on the groomers. They worked really well and I give them a big “thumbs up.”

Panterra 120 also comes with the new GripWalk system. This was my first experience with GripWalk on the slopes. Yes, they do make walking in ski boots more natural, and the grippy soles were actually quite nice outside on the snow covered walkways. In fact, they were nice inside as well. The grippy soles never once felt slippery on wet concrete or tiles. They were a bit harder to clip into the ski bindings. But the ski tech at Nordica (yes, I clicked into Soul Rider 87 again—I couldn’t resist, they were too much fun) said that would vary with the fit of boot to binding, and that once the GripWalk pads broke in a bit more, they would slide in more easily. So I would give GripWalk a “thumbs up” as well.

The really big news, for right now however, is not about gear for next season.

The BIG NEWS is that with the new snowfall up north conditions are really, really good. Bordering on great.

Temps look to stay on the cold side up north, which will hold the snow. And it looks like they may get a few small-scale snow events. Just enough to keep things topped off. Just enough to keep the groomers consisting of beautiful packed-powder corduroy stripes.

So get out and ski. Get out and ride. Go this weekend. There is still some room on the Avie’s Ski & Ride trip headed to Okemo in Vermont this Sunday, February 17th.

If you can—and I highly endorse this—break away on a weekday. Avie’s has a trip to Loon Mountain slated for Wednesday February 20th. I can tell you, first hand, conditions are pretty sweet up there in Lincoln, NH right now.

Don’t think about going on one of the Avie’s Ski & Ride trips. Just go.

AlanD

Loon With Lunatics

I am up here at Loon in New Hampshire. The slopes were amazing. Groomed loose granular and packed powder were the snow du jour. Temps started in single digits then topped out in the low 20s to make for a nice day overall. Crowds were thin. No lift lines.

Most of my trips north to play in the snow take place in Vermont, mainly because from the Westerly area the traffic is easier to navigate through Hartford and Springfield than through Providence and then Boston. But today, and tomorrow, are a different kind of ski trip for me. It’s one I look forward to each year—Demo Days.

Loon is hosting the eastern session of “Demo Days” as we call it at Avie’s Ski / Sports. Demo Days are when all the major ski and snowboard makers take prototypes of their gear for the next season—in this case the 2019/2020 season—and make it available for retailers to try.

So there is a crew from Avie’s up here testing out all the skis and snowboards that you will get to see next season in the shop. Matt, Ray, John, Norm, myself and Ted are all here spending the day testing out gear. It’s the best way for Ted to find out what would be best to have for sale in the shop next season. And to put it mildly, a pretty fun time for all of us “ski testers.” So when you hear mention of ski testers in future posts, this will be the crew in reference.

I’m not going to get into what skis or snowboards were great, and what’s new and what’s not. That will come later this fall as we ramp up into the new season of snow. What I will say is that we continue to see some interesting, and smart in my opinion, trends in boots becoming more performance oriented at wider foot widths. And there is a trend in skis that continues towards a greater separation of carving skis and everything else.

Both are interesting and good trends. They are good because they will give skiers greater opportunity to dial in the best set of sticks for the kind of skiing they do. Good because skiers with wider feet will be able to get into ski boots that perform better. All good things. Snowboarders will have to await a download from Matt, our sole snowboarder.

The biggest news, and the best news, is that ski conditions are really good up north here. While there were some icy patches on narrow trails late in the day, by and large snow conditions were good to great to fantastic.

And they are going to get more fantastic. Right now it is snowing up here at Loon. Snowing hard. And the snow is supposed to continue through the night and into tomorrow. When done, there should be close to another foot of fresh white stuff gracing the slopes we slid down today.

Yes, tomorrow will definitely be a powder day. We all will grab a pair of fat powder skis and go for a few “yeehaw” laps down the trails. Granted that won’t give Ted lots of great input for what skis or snowboards to carry next season. But that’s what he gets for taking a bunch of snow junkie lunatics to Loon when it’s going to snow.

Now is the time to get out and hit the slopes. Go this weekend. You may wander into some of the best conditions to be found this year, so far. Get to Avie’s and get on the bus trip to Okemo this Sunday. There are still seats available.

Tomorrow the pictures I take at Loon will be rather different than the one shown here, of Norm, contemplating a final run of the day. It will be a snow day. A powder day. Another Demo Day. Absolutely a great day spent at a great mountain, in great snow, with absolutely great people.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

AlanD

Stratton Spectacular

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

4:15 AM—I check the weather first thing out of bed. High in the teens with dropping temps throughout the day. Windy—gusts to 50 mph. Cloudy. Snow flurries, possibly heavy, in the afternoon. My logical half says, “Go back to bed.” My skier half says, “Go skiing.”

5:25 AM—I just crossed the Gold Star bridge and realized I left the Nordica skis home, taking only the Volkl’s. Too far to go back, so I stay pointed northbound.

6:10 AM—I feel the car slipping a bit on black ice on Rte 2 in Glastonbury, CT. Not enough to scare me, but enough to wake me up quickly.

7:30 AM—VT 30 is partially snow covered, but in good shape. The temp is 10 degrees F.

8:20 AM—The parking lot of the Snow Bowl at Stratton has 6 cars parked in it. Are they not open? The Sunrise Express lift is spinning. Therefore the Sun Bowl must be open. I park and grab my gear.

8:25 AM—I rest my skis against the rack outside the lodge and look up the mountain before heading in to suit up. There is one lone ski track sinuously snaking down the face of Sunriser Supertrail. It’s a perfect serpentine “s” in a perfectly smooth coating of powder. I should have taken a picture, but all I could think about was getting onto that lovely snow.

8:45 AM—I’m riding the Sunrise Express lift out of the Sun Bowl staring at the lone track in the powder. Wind is quickly filling it in at higher elevations. “Snow Devils” are whirling about. I see only 2 other people on a chair way up the line of empty chairs in front of me.

9:15 AM—My first “face shot” of the day. No, the powder wasn’t that deep. The slopes came up to greet my face. Also known as a “face plant.” The Volkls think it’s funny to dive deep into the powder.

Stratton received about 6-inches or so of snowfall over night Tuesday. Groomers went out early, letting the fresh snow lay down like a blanket over the corduroy. Some novice terrain was groomed just before opening. On those portions of the summit that are severely windblown, you could see some “glacier ice” peeking though—evidence of the nasty rainfall last Thursday.

Skiing early on was in fresh powder underlaid with a firm base of mixed granular and packed powder. My Volkl RTM 84′s are not the best in powder. The Nordica NRGy 90s were right there by the door. Don’t know how I could have missed them. And I did miss them.

A Really Good “Bad” Day

Based on weather predictions, it should have been extremely cold and extremely windy. It should have been cloudy with snow flurries. Yes it was cold—13 degrees F when I left Stratton that afternoon. It was windy. At least early on. Then about 10:30ish the wind just laid down for several hours. It was breezy. Not windy.

Clouds? There were a few puffy clouds early on, as you can see in the first photo of this post. But by 9:30 AM the sky was such a brilliant, clear blue that you couldn’t help but just feel that all was right in the world.

The slopes were graced with a lovely coat of fresh white powder. Whoops of joy drifted out of the woods, and from the trails hidden from sight behind the trees. Beautiful, arcing curves laced their way down the face of the slopes.

As the wind laid down, it was cold, but spectacular. It was one of those winter days that, despite the cold, you just had to feel happy. It was impossible to not be at peace. You just had to smile. Brightly. It was impossible not to breath deep of the cold, sparkling air. And smile. Again.

A Lonely Mountain

So, the weather predicted was a far cry from the weather received. And equally as wrong, was the expectation of mobs of “powder-hounds,” thick as black flies in spring. See the image below. It was taken about 11:15 AM at the main base lodge at Stratton. Do you even see a person?

Stratton Main Base—eerily deserted.

Obviously there were people on the mountain. But it was incredible how so very few there were. On one trip up the Ursa lift to the summit, there was not one person at the lift to get on but me, and I could see maybe a half dozen people on the lift up in front of me. Even the gondola had no line. Just a small cluster of people waiting to board the next car on the line.

I guess folks took to heart the weather predictions. They stayed in bed. Had breakfast. Maybe even went to work, heaven forbid. Doubts crept into my head the evening prior. I kept wondering if it would be worth the drive time to get there and be froze half to death, with the other half getting blown off the summit.

On my way home I stopped by to see Greg at Meulemans’ Craft Draughts in Rawsonville, a couple miles south of the Stratton access road on VT 30—a “must stop at” place if you are into craft beer, cider, or Vermont cheeses and wine. Greg confirmed that the locals “stayed in.” He and his wife Pat were out skiing in the morning and noticed that most of the “regulars” were nowhere to be found.

Needless to say, it was a great day at Stratton. Spectacular actually. The hills up north have been refreshed with a nice blanket of snow. All that carved up powder will be recycled into groomers for days to come. And conditions will stay good right into the weekend. The “polar vortex” is going somewhere else, so temps will moderate, making things a bit more tolerable.

Might not be a bad weekend to head north to ski and ride. Consider the Avie’s Ski / Sports trip running to Mount Snow on Sunday. But don’t delay. Sign up by end of today to ensure a seat.

Breath deep. Smile. Get out and enjoy the snow.

AlanD

More Snow for Mount Snow

Clouds are scudding into Vermont from upstate New York. Pretty, fluffy, white flakes are trickling down from them. By the time dawn approaches tomorrow there will be another 8 to 10-inches of fluffy white powder gracing ski slopes in Vermont.

Add this to the several inches of snow received over the weekend, and things are looking pretty sweet in the mountains to our north. Such a nice recovery from the nasty rain only a week ago.

All this means some pretty good conditions at Mount Snow in Vermont. And that’s where the Avie’s Ski / Sports trip is heading this Sunday, February 3rd. You could have the view in the image above, taken on the Bluebird Express to the summit at Mount Snow.

Sure, it’s Super Bowl Sunday. And yes, the Patriots are playing. The lure to be there in front of the TV watching Tom Brady and the rest of that fabulous team work their magic is strong.

Game time isn’t until 6:30PM. The Avie’s Ski / Sport bus will leave Mount Snow at 4:30PM. Almost sure to be back to Westerly by 8:00PM. Still plenty of game time left to go. Most if not all of the second half of the game will await your viewing pleasure. If you are one of the skiers or riders being dropped off in Waterford, you certainly will catch the second half of the game.

Be realistic. The Patriots have a history of having these big events turn into nail-biters decided in the final moments of the game. Maybe even in overtime. My playbook says this:

  • Get in a great day of skiing and riding in the great conditions at Mount Snow
  • Chill on the bus on the way home and stay abreast of the game on your phone
  • Arrive home around game half-time and watch the most exciting part of the game

Why waste your entire Super Bowl Sunday sitting around doing nothing WAITING for the game to start?

Go skiing and riding. Get yourself to Mount Snow on the Avie’s Ski / Sports bus trip and make your Super Bowl Sunday a fun-filled, action packed, back-to-back thrills day.

I have had the pleasure of being on several Avie’s Ski / Sports bus trips to Mount Snow on Super Bowl Sunday in the past. And here is what happens:

  • It’s a typical Sunday morning on the mountain, though maybe a bit less busy than usual
  • Late morning sees a mass exodus of skiers and riders rushing elsewhere to make chili
  • After a lunch break there are no lines at the lifts and few skiers and riders on the slopes
  • By late afternoon it’s so quite on the slopes you think its your private ski mountain
  • The big smile won’t leave your face on the bus ride back home
  • You try to focus on the second half of the Super Bowl, but can’t get the memories of such a great day of skiing and riding out of your head.

Get signed up for this incredible trip to Mount Snow by end of the day this Thursday. $99.95 is a great price for a great day of skiing and riding. Followed by an evening watching the New England Patriots vie for yet another Super Bowl title.

Hope to see you Sunday morning for the trip north.

AlanD

Okemo January 30th!

The trip to Okemo on Wednesday, January 30th, needs about eight more skiers and riders to make it a “Go.”

If you have been thinking about taking advantage of a day on the slopes without the crowds, turn your thoughts into action. Get over to Avie’s Ski / Sports by tomorrow—Sunday—by mid-day to sign up. A decision on the trip must be made by mid-afternoon tomorrow, so don’t delay if you want to take advantage of a mid-week ski and ride opportunity.

And you should take that opportunity. Several inches of snow overnight tonight and into tomorrow will be gracing the hills of Vermont. Then Tuesday and into early Wednesday more inches—as many as 8—will fall in the Okemo area. That means a lot of nice, fresh snow to play in. Hmmm, what’s that called?

A powder day?

Pass along this information far and wide. Grab a friend and get over to Avie’s Ski / Sports and sign up for the Okemo trip this coming Wednesday. Be one of those fortunate ones on the bus to Okemo. You will not be sorry.

Fresh snow. No weekend crowds. No driving. And no high cost—$99.95 covers the ride via coach bus to and from Okemo, and your lift ticket to a day of fun letting gravity have its way with you on the slopes.

Sign up by tomorrow. Before mid-day. Okemo. Wednesday the 30th.

See you then and there.

AlanD