Posts Tagged ‘2003’

Day 4 of the season and my season only started 8 days ago. Here’s another TR from the nostalgia file…one from 10 years ago: the 2002-03 season.

With a new baby at home, the season started late, but I was catching up. After a late start at Whiteface on Sunday, January 5, I skied the first Masters’ race of the season at Fortune then Saturday was the first ski lessons with the Edelweiss Ski School for Morgane. Although she started skiing at 2 1/2, we wanted to register her into a ski program so we would reserve time for her and not get carried away time-wise by her new sister.

It was Canadian Week at Sugarloaf; they offered Canadians deals on lodging and lift tickets on this mid-January midweek for us crazies. As soon as I graduated from university and its ski team, I was no longer able or had any desire to ski anything with less than a 2000’ vertical. I started seeking out specials within 3 hours from Montreal (300km from Champlain Bridge); although I no longer live in Montreal, I’m still seeking out skiing deals ten years later.

source : Google Map – Montréal (A), Bromont (B), Sugarloaf (C)

Like the previous Sugarloaf Canadian Week visit in 2002, Lucky Luke was in for some Maine turns at the Loaf; much better than going to work. I don’t remember if I slept at my mom’s in Montreal or headed straight for Lucky’s place in Bromont in the Eastern Townships on the Sunday night. We had a bunch of cassettes and 2 pairs of skis each for the slightly less than 3 hours road trip from Bromont. Once off the autoroute and after a few turns, we ended up on one of the straightest non-flat highways that I know: Quebec Highway 212. Once we crossed into Maine at Woburn, we kept our eyes open for moose on that last 30 -minute stretch between the Quebec-Maine border and Sugarloaf. Lucky had already been unlucky once, crashing into a deer while going to a ski race ten years previously (R.I.P. Ford Tempo). I wanted to be sure it didn’t happen again, especially with a moose. Not sure if we saw any moose or deer on that day, but my average over the years on this stretch of road or the one heading towards Sunday River is pretty high.

I love skiing at Sugarloaf, I love the topography. A nice cone with fall-line skiing which gets steeper as you get higher. On that day, like on many of my trips, I had my good skis (the 183cm Atomic Beta Race 10:22, a pure GS ski) and my rock skis (10-year old, 205cm straight yellow Rossignol 7Ss). Started off the morning with the good pair, the rock skis were staying in the car for now.

The sky was gray and the place was fairly deserted. I guess it’s not surprising for a non-Holiday Monday at Sugarloaf in mid-January. There was a small layer of fresh snow on the beautiful corduroy base. Lucky and I were running laps all over the mountain. We started off with runs off the 1750’ Sugarloaf SuperQuad, hitting runs like Hayburner, King’s Landing, Comp Hill and Narrow Gauge, slowly moving further to the right to the 1500’ slower Spillway double. Always thought it was pretty impressive to have two double chairs running side-by-side using the same towers. Unlike the previous year, the King Pine quad was closed, basically the only lifts running were Spillway and the HSQ. Concentrated on turns on Spillway, Sluice…then throwing us down the steep White Nitro pitch and hitting the runway down the narrower trails like Wedge and Bubblecuffer.

As we accumulated the runs, the snow was also accumulating. We decided to keep the fast skis and keep carving some nice high-speed turns in the fresh layer of snow. Shadowing each other, loading the skis to an explosive acceleration at every long radius turns over the roll of the narrow trails. The perception of these lower trails is very different when you’re running at warp speed with the twists, rolls and blurred trees on each side. No time to stop during these fast laps, we only stopped for lunch. In the afternoon, we continued racing down trails in what was now a blizzard. Loving to ski high-speed turns in a snow storm: not something I’ve been in a habit to do, but the skis were skiing awesome on that day. It wasn’t only a powder GS day, it was a memorable day which I can recall 10 years after. Although the Spillway double was a relatively slow lift, we skied 24 runs which would be somewhere between 36000 and 42000 vertical feet on that day.. I remember Lucky saying we skied Everest and a half!!! In the previous year, we skied much slower, more varied terrain, more lifts for a total of 31k.

Drive Home and the next Big Eastern Mountain Outing Deals

The drive back to Bromont wasn’t as fast. We drove back in the full-out storm and dark, it took us over 5 hours to make it back to Bromont: double the morning travel time. We thought of staying the night, but Lucky had to work the next day. I left for Montreal that morning for a stop at Dafran in Montreal to pick up and pay for my new pair of slalom skis for the next Masters’ Race. It was my first pair of Slalom under 201cm in 20 years: some short 157cm Atomic SL11s.

What a great day, the next ski deals in our January Calendar were Whiteface’s Superbowl Super Sunday on the 26th followed by Mad River Glen’s Roll back the Clock day on the 28th. Lucky Luke was definitely in for MRG, however this time I was going to leave my GS skis at home. The new slalom when going to left in Ottawa also.

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MadPat’s latest start of the ski season EVER!!! A few weeks ago I posted the December 18 start of my 1992-93 season from the French Alps. Although it was late start, the season 1994-95 would turn out to be even later. A night skiing outing on January 2, 1995 at St-Sauveur/Avila before driving back to the new job the next morning in Ottawa.

What do all these late starts have in common? Finishing a thesis; starting a new job 200 km from home or having a baby. The last one is the best reason of the three.


The January 2003 season start was the day after my second daughter’s two-month birthday. Something has to take precedent to that first day on skis. Tara Erin Meije was born on November 4 at 8am: it started snowing at that exact moment. A nice 7 cm fell to the ground,  first snow accumulation to stay in Ottawa that season. Stoked, even if I wasn’t going to do much skiing in the next few months. I didn’t take much time off from work when Morgane was born 5 years prior, however I figured out a few things in the last few years. Work should never stop you from living or take too much room in your live. I might have taken only 2 days off work when Morgane was born: I wasn’t going to make that error twice. The Canadian Government extended the unemployment insurance for Maternal/Parental leave from 6 to 12 months. Maternal leave is 3 months and Dads or/and Moms are allowed an extra 9 months of parental leave. For our first daughter, as a student, my wife hadn’t enough insurable income to qualify for unemployment back in 1997, this time she did. She decided to take the 3 months maternal and I took all of the 9 months parental. Regardless if we were being paid or not, Caroline and I took a whole year off. A colleague at work mentioned that I was lucky to take the parental leave as his wife would never share it, I told him that he could have done the same thing. I was taking 3 months unpaid leave, my wife wasn’t going to be paid for 9 months during that year. Like for many things in my life; it’s all a question of choice and priorities. I understand that not everyone think they can afford it, however that work colleague’s family income was much greater than ours. He couldn’t take the time off maybe because they weren’t willing to sacrifice other things. Time flies, sometimes you just need to take time.

Everything requires is about sacrifices and choices. For example, If I wouldn’t ski I would be much richer….but my life would be poorer.

Busy Fall

Holidays are all ready over, school starts on Monday as we are heading into the second week of January with a looming first Ottawa Masters ski race on Wednesday night: my second season on the circuit. Although I started my year off work in early December, pre-Christmas time is always a busy time. We also had just moved in our new home two weeks prior to Tara arrival. I absolutely wanted to get some turns in before heading to the first race. I needed to go to Montreal, so I did what we often did in the first years we lived in Ottawa, go to Montreal with detours towards Tremblant or Whiteface. So instead of driving 6 hours return to get to Whiteface, I would 3.5 hour and make it to Montreal and back to Ottawa. The Tremblant route adds the same amount of time to the usual 4-hour return trip up North.

Google Map : Ottawa to Montreal via Whiteface NY. Mont Tremblant is at the top of map.

Exchange rate from 1985 to January 2003

Exchange rate from 1985 to current (January 2013)

Super Sunday it is…Surfin’ Sunday!!!

Early on Sunday morning, I grabbed my Fels straight 202cm skis and headed to Whiteface Mountain for some real vertical. I preferred Whiteface over Tremblant, it was the first of three Super Sunday of the season with lift tickets at $30 US. Even with the Canadian dollars being near its all-time low at below 65 cents US which had added an extra 60% to the price of the ticket. Lift tickets ended up costing almost $50 which was still cheaper than Tremblant’s full season rate.

I wasn’t looking to make a ton of runs, just first turns for the season. The gold was to get out then head to Montreal. Whiteface had received 13″ in the past 24 hours making for nice powder/packed powder conditions. Forecast called for some flurries during the day with temperatures hovering between -5c and -10c. Not to warm for an Island Madness Super Sunday theme. Summit runs were partially open and Northway was still closed. I did only 7 runs, probably skiing off the summit and Little Whiteface a couple of time. Not a fan of Cloudsplitter Gondola, just give the Little Whiteface double and Summit Quad for the day. Headed taking the road towards I-87 and Montreal to my mom’s home, back in Ottawa on Monday.

2002-03 ski season

It was a late start to the season and I don’t know how many days I was going to get this season? Even if I stayed home with my wife and our new-born, the priorities were necessarily turns. Of course I would have my regular Wednesday nights Masters ski race and registered Morgane for ski lessons at Edelweiss. I would also get the odd trip to outside the region. Ski lessons were starting the following weekend: 8 Saturdays until early March. Although Morgane started skiing in March 2000, this was going to the first time in lessons. I wanted to book something that would force us on the hill at a regular basis, because without the weekly dedicated time at the hill between Dad and the oldest daughter, there would be a danger to not taking the time for her. Morgane was the centre of our World for 5 years: now she wasn’t alone and we needed to balance that. It’s nice to have a new kid in town, as long as you don’t forgot the one you already have.

There is also the real possibility of the family leaving one month to visit my wife’s family in France and show the baby to the grand-mothers. Probably the best time to go before Morgane gets to Grade 1 next year. If we go, I’ll definitely bring my skis in make some turns.

Stay tuned!!!

Whiteface snow report

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Additional comments on the Nov 30 Tremblant conditions.

Sharon wrote:

“I just heard that Tremblant got 28″ since Friday. Is this true? or is this what the marketing department likes to tell us?”

The Saturday evenings snowphone (website report was down) was mentioning 30-40cm (12″-16″). It started snowing more late in the day Sunday. We had a blanket of fresh snow in Ottawa overnight last night, so it’s very possible Tremblant received an extra 12″ since the late Saturday snow report. Although Tremblant doesn’t need any lessons from other ski resort in enhancing their facts, the amount of snow is probably close.

HOWEVER, BEWARE of the trail count. Tremblant had the nerve (nothing new here) to call what was open 14 trails. Basically, Southside had McCulloch (partial Charron to reach the TGV lift) and Beauvallon (Crete to get there and Alpine!!!). 2 runs and not really 5 trails on the South.

For those who don’t know Tremblant that well, Alpine is a trail that runs parallel to Beauvallon separated on most of its length by a few long tree islands. Although Alpine was called open, the only place it was open was for the first few hundred feet where someone could say that it’s a large Beauvallon and they wouldn’t be wrong.

Northside had the run combo Lowell Thomas-Rigodon as 1, instead of the 2. The other open runs were Andy Moe (short trail), Petit Bonheur, Upper Beauchemin and La Traverse.

The Upper part of the Southside trails were blasted by the wind and icy. Northside was sheltered and nicer, with the possible exception of LaTraverse trail.

Sven, I really envy you. Like Marc, I debated about going down Banzai (less so for Tunnel). I had two pairs in the car, skis with shape edges and old ski with no edges. Considering the conditions on the Southside, it was a hard call. I was tempted to make a long trip back to the parking lot (at least 40 minutes return trip), but decided against it.

I didn’t see any tracks arriving from the other side of the Triple which would be the way a skier would end up going down Banzai-Tunnel territory. Mind you the visibility was pretty bad.

Sven, where were the ski patrol you were talking about? At the bottom of the trail (base of the old t-bars/rope tow area)? Left side of the Triple? Or on the side the Lowell Thomas where it stops running parallel to Banzai?

Unfortunately, I can see why they would stop skiers from going down. Someone might end up lost with very little snow to ski on if they made the wrong turn. <

Frank, I preferred Friday's St.Sauveur snow condition in the rain.

Marc, you probably guest it, I only saw your message the following day.

Ah yes, lift tickets: $49!!! Half-day starting at 12:00 (I think) and lifts close at 3:30 (downloading from summit) for $40!!!

Originally posted as a reply on Tremblant conditions on Tue Dec 02, 2003 10:23 pm on firsttracksonline

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Here is a 3 words description of Skiing today at St.Sauveur: WET, RAIN and 3 trails (Red Bird, 70 and Nordique).

Lower pitches of 70 West and Nordique were closed. The mountain crew seemed to be working on these trails. On Lower Hill 70 West they were building jumps/rails. The HSQ was the only lift open.

The St.Sauveur area had received some heavy wet snow overnight. And for those with wishful thinking (like me)….. it rained all day (no snow). It started to Rain heavily at 1:00pm. Yes, there was the odd wet snow flakes toward 2:00, however it didn’t last long. It was still raining when I left St.Sauveur at 5PM.

All things considered, the skiing was good. The place was virtually deserted (especially in the afternoon). The coverage on the bottom of 70 East (only place to reach the lift from 70 West and Nordique) was getting more and more washed off. At 3:00, the snow was so wet that if you didn’t carry good speed it would stop you.

Originally posted on Fri Nov 28, 2003 10:11 pm on firsttracksonline

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Finally the Internet connection works…

Back in Ottawa after a few days in Montreal. I couldn’t be at St.Sauveur for the first day (driving someone to the airport), but I was able to make it to St.Bruno for night skiing. I decided to add these reports after reading Frank and Max’s reports on these places. Different conditions on different days.


It was my first time back at Mt.St.Bruno in maybe 30 years, I had to follow the light through the suburban streets to find to the mountain.

Sunday night lift tickets are $10. The mountain opened at 5PM, I got there at 6:30PM. The Hill was pretty crowded at first (at least 200). Like Max said, there had open one blue-run. The condition were somewhat icier due to the skier traffic. At 9PM, the crown died down – mostly snowboarders remained. All in all, I had a pretty good evening of night skiing for November 9th.

Early November skiing under the lights at Mt St-Bruno


Lift tickets: $26 day /$23 for 4hours (I think?). Today was much quieter than the previous day. The number of skier increased after 1PM when students with afternoon courses (I guess?) started showing up.

Two trails opened: 70 West and Nordique. The hill, especially the steeper parts, got pretty icy around 2PM (All day Traffic and as the shade moved in). This was another great day.

Advice if you go there or anywhere: Start skiing early because what is soft is going to be scraped off in only a few hours (faster if there is a crowd).

Nicest part: Lower pitch of West 70, off the main groomed part with non-base. Just enough coverage to make him turns.

Top of Nordique with Triple in the background

Top of Triple and heading toward 70

Top of 70 Pitch and St-Sauveur-des-Monts

Originally posted on Thu Nov 13, 2003 12:26 pm on firsttracksonline

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Sorry for the late report.

Ste-Anne had great conditions for their last weekend of skiing. More coverage than last year at the same time (actually, last year was below freezing and had fresh snow). 17 trails were opened. Most of the North side was open (9 trails) and 8 trails on the South which required some walking to get back to the lift. What was amazing was that some of the great Southside black runs were skiable and opened (La Crête, L’Espoir and Super S). These trails required some short walks at a few places if you valued your skis + 300ft. to reach the Gondola. Pretty good considering that these runs’ vertical is 2025ft. The other SouthSide runs only required walking to reach the lift. No walking was required on the North side which probably had enough snow to last a few more weeks. Some people would ski only the North side then ski the last run on the Southside (Gros Vallon, Familiale or Pichard) or download on the Gondola.

All in all, a great day of skiing. It is unfortunate that the only areas left to choose from in the East are K at $39US and St-Sauveur next weekend (maybe?). The Ste-Anne cost me $36 CDN, which is a great deal when I compare with the others.

On the other hand, there is always Tuckerman.

edit May 8, 2013 : This was MadPat’s first post on a ski day shared with my old High School buddy Jean-Pierre who got me started in keeping a Ski Diary of my days. It was also my 38th outing and last day of short 4 months ski season which I explored many beautiful places. Hoping to post some nostalgia TRs of my beautiful 2003 ski season.

Originally posted on Thu May 08, 2003 9:22 am on firsttracksonline

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