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The 1993-94 Winter was a freaking cold. Living with little money with my girlfriend from France in small and crooked old one bedroom apartment in Montreal’s working class district of Pointe St.Charles.

So cold and little money that we kept the temperature in our $380/month apartment down to 12c overnight and up to a warm 15c in the daytime. It was so cold that we opted to stay in bed a few times instead of getting up early to go skiing and paying expensive lift tickets in January and skiing when it was -35c in the morning.

As we moved beyond the Arctic cold temperature of January and towards the later part of the season, it was time to make up time : I was just at 8 ski days in mid-February. It helped that I worked on the odd contract from the university and had total flexibility to go skiing midweek. April was the time to use the remaining vouchers, coupons or find deals and ski all over the place. Since my last visit to Tremblant on March 27, I had done day-trips to Mad River Glen, Stowe, Smugglers’ and Whiteface. Montreal is a great city to live in to access the East’s best skiing all within day-trip range.

Lucky Luke was still on temporarily on Unemployment Insurance due a fractured hand and was always available for a cheap ski day. On this Tuesday morning Lucky Luke drove with tens of thousands of suburbanites across Canada’s busiest bridge, the Champlain, to get into Montreal and pick me up. Fortunately for him, I lived not far from the bridge and he wasn’t going to work. The last time we skied together was only 4 days ago at Smugglers’ Notch on April 8.

Intrawest making changes

Mont Tremblant was going through some major changes at lightning speed since Intrawest had purchased it in 1991. The last time Lucky and I skied together at Tremblant in April 1992, Intrawest had installed another top-to-bottom High Speed Quad also servicing the North side.

Since that visit, Intrawest moved le Chalet des Voyageurs out-of-the-way and built the first building of its pedestrian village modeled after its Whistler Village. It was out with the old typical Quebec Rural setting of the Mont Tremblant Lodge and in with Urban architecture mixed between Old Quebec City and Disney World. Lucky Luke, the architectural student, didn’t necessarily agreed with their plans and had his own ideas. The only “old” lifts remaining were the Flying Mile and Lowell Thomas triples installed in 1980. In addition to replacing lifts with High speed quad on the upper South side (TGV) and lower North (Expo Express) plus adding a quad in an new area called the Edge in 1994. Intrawest also started to address the lack of real expert terrain, glades and a few easier ways to avoid trouble spots for beginners by adding 18 new trails and new summit.

New 1994 Trails
New Trails (South): A bunch of Blacks on the steep upper mountain.
Rodeo – black (old black double chairlift liftline)
ZigZag – double black (one of the steepest runs)
Vertige – double black (one of the steepest runs)
Fripp – black (new TGV HQS and old quad liftline)
Taschereau – black
Roy Scott – green (avoiding the final pitch of Promenade/Flying Mile – a major trouble spot)
Chalumeau – blue (run to new housing)

New Trails (North):
Banzai – black (old T-Bar line)
Dynamite – double black (at 42 degrees it was dub as the steepest trail in the East)
Detour – green (avoiding the steeper Gagnon pitch to reach the Lowell Thomas Triple)

New Trails (Edge): New mountain with mostly glades.
Bon Vivant – green (reaching the top of the Edge to South side Nansen)
Réaction – black
Action – black
Haute Tension – black
Sensation – black
Escapade – blue (trail back to North side and base of Lowell Thomas Triple)
Tentation – green (to base of Edge chair)
Letendre – green (from base of Edge chair)

Intrawest also tried to lure back some skiers to the New Tremblant with deals, coupons and specials found in the Montreal daily newspapers. So instead of me driving down South and picking me up Lucky in St-Luc to go skiing at Smuggs like the previous Friday; it was his tour to drive North through Montreal and pick me up to go to Tremblant.

Nirvana – Lithium

April 8, 1994

Music has always played an important to our skiing trips. Although we had different musical background, our tastes overlapped with Nirvana. Lucky had grown up listening to Heavy Metal while I was deep into more Classic Rock, Progressive and later on Alternative. Kurt Cobain’s body was discovered on that day; the day we skied together in Vermont. It wasn’t until April 12, that we got to seriously meditated with the dial up to “11″ inside Lucky’s Suzuki Swift with four pairs of skis, up to the Laurentians via Autoroute 13 in order to avoid the rush hour traffic. Listening to Utero, Nevermind and Unplugged…the drive to Tremblant isn’t that long.

Nirvana – Heart-Shaped Box

We skied where we left off in April 1992 and looking to ski the equivalent of Everest and one half: racking the verts with Kurt singing ringing in our ears. The morning surface were hard after a good overnight freeze like so often in the Spring, so we started with the 210cm GS skis like my Rossignol 7Gs. Prior to lunch the surfaces started to soften up with temperature reaching 10c. After eating we switched into our slalom 7S skis to ski the softer stuff and bumps.

Twenty years ago, slalom skis were used to ski ice, crud, bumps, powder and woods.

Twenty years ago Grunge had lost an icon for a generation. Similar to the importance in the deaths of John Lennon or other icons passing at aged 27 like Jimi Hendrix, Janice Joplin and Jim Morrison from the previous generations.

Twenty years ago Lucky and I were still in our twenties. Kurt would be 47 now, but his music lives on.

Nirvana – Where Did You Sleep Last Night

I’m typing this as the temperature here in Ottawa has just reached 25C (78F); the warmest day in town since last September. There is a little patch of snow left on my front lawn, but it might not survive the day, especially after another downpour forecast overnight. The last week had an incredible stretch of Spring weather and skiing conditions have been in prime Spring mode. The deep snowpack is melting and the rivers are high. The fact that it rained yesterday didn’t help, although the heavy rain came in the evening, but all of the Ottawa local ski areas and some in part of Quebec were closed yesterday due to the risk of daytime rain. Most of the East is getting the heat for one day before the temperature drop below freezing with precipitations (rain or/and snow) for tomorrow Tuesday in higher elevations or latitude.

As mentioned last week, thanks to late storms, cold March and late Easter Holiday this year, it made some ski areas to target the third weekend of April to offer skiers one last Holiday skiing. As of Monday morning, 40 ski areas are still hoping to open for sometime during Easter weekend. For a comparison, only 26 and 3 ski areas remained at this time in the previous two Springs.

Here is a detailed count tracked down by Ski Mad World in the previous seasons:

2013: 26
2012: 3
2011: 16
2010: 5
2009: 9
2008: 15
2007: 23

So yeah, it has been a great season to get extra late turns. Although we have 39 ski areas which haven’t locked the door until next Fall, only 15 of them will spin midweek which are the bigger resorts in the East. Unfortunately after the Easter weekend, the total number of ski areas will be limited only a dozen the diehard ski areas servicing the diehard skiers.

There is great coverage in some places, even at hills that have closed…go out, ski and encourage the ski areas to spin for another week.

LIST OF 39 SKI AREAS TENTATIVELY OPEN THIS WEEKEND

QUEBEC 20

West
Bromont – April 21
Camp Fortune – April 20 (tentative reopening later this week)
Kanasuta – April 19 (Saturday only)
Orford – April 27 (Fri-Sun only then tentative)
Owl’s Head – April 21 (Fri-Easter Monday only)
St-Sauveur – May 11
Sutton – April 21 or maybe May
Tremblant – April 21
Vallée Bleue _ April 19 (tentative Fri-Sat only)
Val St-Côme – April 20 (tentative Fri-Sun only)

East
Chalco – TBD (Wed, weekend only)
Comi – April 21 or more (Wed-Easter Monday only)
Grand Fonds – April 19 (Saturday only)
Le Massif – April 20 (Fri-Sun only)
Massif du Sud – April 27 (Fri-Sun only then tentative)
Miller – April 20 (weekend only)
Ste.Anne – April 27 (next Fri-Mon only)
St-Mathieu – April 20 (weekend only)
Val d’Irène – April 20 (Fri-Sun only)
Le Valinouet – April 20 (Fri-Sun only)

ONTARIO : 2

Blue – April 21
Calabogie Peaks – April 20 (tentative weekend only)

NEWFOUNDLAND & LABRADOR : 1

Smokey Mountain – April 20 (weekend only)

NEW YORK : 4

Bristol – April 19 (tentative Fri-Sat only)
Gore – April 20 (Wed-Sun only)
Song – April 18 (tentative Fri only)
Whiteface – April 20 or more

VERMONT : 5

Jay – May 11 or more (tentative)
Killington – May 3 minimum
Smugglers – April 20
Stowe – April 20
Sugarbush – TBD

NEW HAMPSHIRE : 4

Bretton Woods – April 21 (Fri-Sun only)
Cannon – April 20
Loon – April 20
Wildcat – April 20 or more

MAINE : 3

Saddleback – April 20 (weekend only)
Sugarloaf – TBD
Sunday River – April 21

Ski Mad World’s weekly Eastern Closing 2014 post:
Spring skiing is just starting, but …
Where Are We At? – Eastern Closing Thread 2013-14 – Part 2

So where are we at for the 2013-2014 ski season? Is there still skiing out there and where? The 2013-14 ski season has been fantastic North of the St. Lawrence valley with great stretch of below freezing temps and snow, while areas South have had some issues with lack of snow and some thaw in January, but got hammered with storms and cold weather in March so the snow remained excellent and deep.

Despite the deep snowpack, April is normally the time when the lifts stop spinning almost everywhere. It is either by lack of snow or lack for ticket buying customers.

Many ski areas made it to April this year, so I didn’t bother compiling the list for April’s first weekend. Like I mentioned last week, Spring skiing is just starting… with this cold month of March, but regardless, a bunch of ski areas closed last weekend and an equally important number while call it quits this weekend. But we can’t complain too much, a potential of 82 ski areas for the second weekend of April is much better than the 47 from last year or the disastrous 9 in 2012.

Close to half of the ski areas planning to open this weekend are in Quebec and many are only operating on weekends. Before heading out at the ski hill, you better confirm with the ski hills as this time of the season; ski areas might changed their plans with lack of good weather, snow or skiers. If you want to get some Spring skiing, you better get out now while someone is still spinning. Some ski resorts will try to make to Easter, maybe a few in May, but many will not.

EDIT*** : A problem with the Mont Edouard lift has forced them to shutdown for the season instead of making to Easter weekend.

LIST OF 82 SKI AREAS TENTATIVELY OPEN THIS WEEKEND

QUEBEC 37

Montreal, Laurentians and Launaudière

Chanteclerc – April 12 (Saturday only)***
Garceau – April 13 (weekend only)
Montcalm – April 13 (weekend only)
Rigaud – April 13 (tentative – weekend only)
St-Sauveur – May 11****
Tremblant – April 21
Vallée Bleue – April 13 (weekend only)
Val St-Côme – April 20 (Fri-Sun)***

Eastern Townships:

Bromont – April 21**
Orford – April 27 (tentative)
Owl’s Head – TBD
Sutton – April 21 or more

Québec City to North Shore
Le Relais – April 13
Ste.Anne – April 27
Stoneham April 13 (weekend only)
Orignal – April 13 (weekend only)
Massif du Sud – April 27 (tentative – Fri-Sun only)
Le Massif – April 20 (tentative – weekend only)
Grand Fonds – April 12 (tentative Saturday only)***
Édouard – April 20 (weekend only)****
Le Valinouet – April 21****
Lac Vert – April 12 (Saturday only)
Chalco – TBD
Ti-Basse – April 13 (weekend only)
Gallix – April 12 (Saturday only)

Gaspé Peninsula

Bérchervaise – April 13 (weekend only)
Cap Chat – April 12 or more (weekend only)
Castor – April 13 (weekend only)
Comi – April 21 or more (Wed-Sun only)
Miller – April 20 (Fri-Sun only)
St-Mathieu – April 13 (weekend only)
Val Neigette – April 13 (weekend only)
Val d’Irène – April 20 (Fri-Sun only)

Outaouais and Abitibi

Camp Fortune – April 20 (tentative)***
Cascades – April 13 (weekend only)***
Mont Chilly – April 13 (weekend only)
Ste-Marie – April 13 (weekend only)
Kanasuta – April 19 (weekend only)
Vidéo – April 13 or more (weekend only)

ONTARIO : 6

Blue – April 21 (tentative)
Calabogie Peaks – TBD
Dufour – April 19 (tentative weekend only)
Kamiskotia – April 20 (tentative weekend only)
Laurentian – April 12 (Saturday only)***
Searchmont – April 20 (weekend only)
Adanac (Sudbury) – April 14 (tentative)***
Capreol (Sudbury) – April 14 (tentative)***
Lively (Sudbury) – April 14 (tentative)
***

NEW BRUNSWICK : 1

Farlagne – April 13 (weekend only)

NEWFOUNDLAND & LABRADOR : 1

Smokey Mountain – April 20

NEW YORK : 10

Belleayre – April 13 (Thurs-Sun)***
Bristol – April 13 (weekend only)
Gore – April 20 (Wed-Sun only)***
Holiday Valley – April 13 (weekend only)
Holimont – April 13
Hunter – April 13
Plattekill – April 13 (tentative Sunday only)**
Song – April 13 (maybe Fri, weekend only)***
West – April 13 (Sunday only)
Whiteface – April 20 or more***

VERMONT : 10

Burke – April 13 (weekend only)
Jay – May 11 or more (tentative)
Killington – May 3 minimum
Mad River Glen – April 13
Snow – April 13
Okemo – April 13
Smugglers – April 20
Stowe – April 20
Stratton – April 13
Sugarbush – TBD

NEW HAMPSHIRE : 6

Abenaki – April 12 (weekend only)
Bretton Woods – April 21
Cannon – April 20
Loon – April 20
Sunapee – April 13
Wildcat – TDB

MAINE : 8

Abram – April 12 (Saturday only)***
Bigrock – April 12*
Black – April 13 (Fri-Sun only)
Lonesome Pine – April 13 (weekend only)*
Saddleback – April 20 (weekend only)
Squaw – April 13 (tentative Fri-Sun only)***
Sugarloaf – TBD
Sunday River – April 21

MASSACHUSETTS : 1

Jiminy Peak – April 13 (tentative weekend only)***
Wachusett – April 13 (tentative Fri-Sun only)***

PENNSYLVANIA : 1

Blue – April 13 (weekend only)**

*Edit : April 9, 12:15am
**Edit : April 10, 11:45pm
***Edit : April 11, 11:30pm
****Edit : April 12, 10:00pm

Ski Mad World’s weekly Eastern Closing 2014 post:
Spring skiing is just starting, but …

We have just started Spring skiing, but … some are already throwing the towel. Despite a deep snowpack, great coverage and awesome conditions, some skiers, riders and ski areas will stop real soon. I never understood why the season was so November-March instead of December-April. Skiing in the month of November is generally crowded, limited trails on a WROD (White Ribbon of Death), with hard frozen surfaces plus the temperature is gray and cold.

I’m not going to start the Ski Mad World’s Annual Eastern Closing Thread countdown this week, but you better get out there if you still want to ski, because before you know it, the lifts won’t be spinning and you’ll have to climb if you want to ski it. I’ll try to list of spinning ski areas in the second weekend in April. Hoping to continue the Eastern Closing thread in May and maybe into June.

Previous first post of Annual Eastern Closing Thread
2013: Go skiing this weekend!!!
2012: Eastern Ski Disaster and Winter Hating Heatwave
2011: Skiing toward Easter and May in the East
2010: Eastern closing thread – 2009-10
2009: Eastern closing dates thread 2008-2009
2008: Eastern Closing dates 2007-08
2007: Eastern closing dates 2006-07

Racing : U14 Slalom on Exhibition at Mont Cascades. The Exhibition is definitely more challenging that Vorlage’s Lookout trail that the kids raced slalom two weeks ago.

101 : Marking Month #101 in MadPat’s SkiStreak.

Racing 101 : Outside ski, look ahead, hands forward, don’t lean back, upper body separation. Racing today on Exhibition will underlined the importance of the fundamentals.

It didn’t take long for the small parking lot next to the World Cup lodge to fill up. I managed to find one of the last spots and the police will give you good fine if you park on the side of the road. Of course there is a much bigger lot on the main side. This side where the racers and coaches wanted to be. The NCO team was training on the Competition side of skier’s right of the Exhibition/Competition trail. Mont Cascades U16s kids were getting ready for speed camp and training Super G on the twisting Hogan trail.

It was a cold -18c morning, but at race time the temperature up to -8c and overcast. The surface was carveable, but the steeps were hard pack and icy. The slalom course had about 45 gates on the 140-meter course which pretty much from the top of this side of Mont Cascades. The pitch of the trail, the course turned to ice. Kids are going to have to attack, not ski on the backseat and make sure they are standing on that outside or it going to be DNF over.

Once the race was over it started to snow pretty hard. After finishing to help for the teardown, I managed to get a few runs down Hogan. The trail hadn’t seen much traffic due to training earlier in the day during the day and was now covered with a fresh layer of snow. I didn’t feel like checking out the Gratton trail nor the other sides of Cascades. It had been a long day and this was enough for me.

Pictures courtesy of Kunstadt Sports

Emelyn

Sierra, winner by an 8-seconds margin and 16-seconds ahead of 6th place

Sam, winner for the boys was the only one faster than Sierra today

More pictures from the Cascades race on Kunstadt Sports’ Facebook page

Cascades U14 Slalom Results Ladies
1 SMITH, Sierra MARIE 49.70 45.38 1:35.08
2 LEDUC, Charlotte ASM 53.44 49.88 1:43.32
3 BELANGER, Juliette ASM 53.10 50.25 1:43.35

Cascades U14 Slalom Results Men
1 DUFF, Sam CALAB 49.25 43.88 1:33.13
2 CLARK, Tyler MARIE 50.49 45.45 1:35.94
3 KISLICH-LEMYRE, York FORTU 50.84 47.81 1:38.65

20140201_cascades
Day’s Log

Located only a few miles from Ottawa, the first ski trails at Camp Fortune were cut in the early Twenties. Much has changed in almost one century and the access is much easier now. Camp Fortune is one of the oldest ski areas in Canada, it was the first ski area in Eastern Canada to have a double chairlift, first in Quebec with snowmaking and one of the first in the province to offer night skiing.

The Ottawa Ski Club celebrated its centennial in 2010 and were fundamental in starting the ski area. This short video presentation was made for Gatineau Valley Historical Society by Charles Hodgson.

More historical information on Camp Fortune and the Ottawa Ski Club can be found in the following links:
Camp Fortune Ski Club website : Supporting and Developing the Ski Community for over a Century.
Ski Mad World’s Monday Mad Addict’s Attic featuring Camp Fortune brochure from the 1980-81 season.
Canadian Ski Museum online collection on the Ottawa Ski Club

First day after the first real rain event and real icy conditions since mid-January. The thaw/rain event only lasted for one day, but the damage to the surface was done when the temps went back down to the Winter freeze. We didn’t look that much snow, it just became rock hard solid.

Most of the locals hills were closed during the rain on Friday, but not Mont Ste-Marie. The hill was host to the regional U14 speed camp for the last three days. Skiing Super G in the rain until they stopped at noon. The MSM is the further race from Ottawa which also happens to have the earliest registration. This made it a rough morning. Some racers barely had time to get everything dry for this morning race: a giant slalom. As I was waiting for the team to show up at the lodge, MSM had setup a large TV with the Olympics on. What great timing, it was the start of the Sochi’s Men Slalom’s first run. A few of the athletes and coaches watched the start of the slalom, including one coach that participated in the last two Olympic Slaloms.

By the time the Edelweiss racers arrived from Ottawa, it was time for me to leave for the coaches meeting at the bottom of Cheval Blanc. The meeting was finished at the time inspection was opening up. A quick rush to the top with the HSQ then down fast the Outaouais trail for inspection of this GS course. It would seem more trees were cut as the starting area was larger plus they was a larger traverse from Betsy to the start of the GS course on avoiding the narrow part of Outaouais run.

As mentioned in previous years for the U16 race: the Outaouais course is full of rollers. You have to be ahead and not sit back or you’ll get in trouble. Although this course wasn’t as dramatic as last year’s U16 GS: they were still a few close calls and a few more DNFs. The fastest girl in the region didn’t complete a run: flying off a roll in the 1st run eventually not finishing and bouncing off the hill with her face in the second. Even if she easily won all previous races, coaches were mentioning that was only skiing at 85% at those race and now was pushing on giving her full 100%. Wow!!! Edelweiss girls skied a much better second run: Emelyn was just missed out on making the Provincials in Quebec City. At the end of the day, we got to watch the final run of the Olympic slalom. Great timing!!!

The conditions? We always get weather at Mont Ste-Marie, either snow and freezing cold. Today was just normal, except the snow conditions. Let just say that they closed the Rideau Canal for skating today and redirected skating to the Outaouais trail. Holy blue sheets of ice!!! Almost no skiers where skating on the Cheval Blanc side, everyone was on the main Vanier hill. But to repeat the saying: “There is no bad snow, just bad skiers!!!”

MSM U14 Giant Slalom Results Ladies
1 THOMAS, Sophie VORLA 43.80 42.05 1:25.85
2 LEDUC, Charlotte ASM 44.82 42.54 1:27.36
3 TAN, Sophia CALAB 45.90 42.07 1:27.97

MSM U14 Giant Slalom Results Men
1 DUFF, Sam CALAB 42.29 38.62 1:20.91
2 GUIMONT, Eric VORLA 42.53 40.36 1:22.89
3 MARLER, Aidan MARIE 43.57 39.87 1:23.44

20140222_msm

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