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It’s time to be the Monday Morning Quarterback for the end of the season.

What a crazy end of the season we’ve had. Although it was late March, temperatures remained cold then snow moved in many regions in April. Spring skiing weather didn’t really start until the end of April and early May which turned back to cold then warm rain to finish with snow to close out the season.

It’s a Wrap:

With the rise in AT gear, there is more than ever two parallel ski seasons: the end of one doesn’t mean the end of the other. This weekend marked for most, the end of the Eastern ski season, when it fact it only marked the end of lifts spinning season. Ski Mad World and prior to that, myself, has compiled the evolution of ski areas still in operations in late season. It started in my university days when I was looking at my end-of-semester ski options. Many years later, I started to share my research to the internet. For myself, but also to keep people informed that there is still skiing out there. What I find sad is that many people are so eager to start their season in the Fall in often crowded icy limited slopes (aka WROD : White Ribbon of Death) in dark cold days of late November versus Spring skiing on uncrowded slopes and warm weather. I’ve never kept track of opening days, because I find it is generally more artificial and less fun.

Many people turn off their ski brains after Spring Break and very few make it past Easter. It is a shame, because many ski areas still have most of their terrain open and start shutting down as people stop showing up. I don’t want to use the blog to start pointing fingers at the ski areas that close to soon; they each have their reasons. I want to use this post to congratulate the ski areas that went the extra days and weeks to offer late season skiing.

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I’ll limit my comments to the last 8 ski areas open in the East:

Mont Sutton QC – April 27 : The Eastern Townships ski area had official closed on April 20, but the ski area management decided to give everyone an extra Saturday due to the amount of snow and demand by skiers. The fact that they offered skiing only with the higher altitude Chair IV without any base access is a commitment. People needed to pay $20 cash or drive back to the Chalet at the base.

Mont Ste-Anne QC – April 28 : The Quebec City ski resort has been generally closely followed its calendar, regardless of the snow conditions. This season wasn’t an exception. The fixed closing date used to be at the first weekend of May, but was moved up one weekend a few years ago. The skiing was excellent on this closing weekend with skiing with the Triple running next to the steep South side run and North side being fully open. Could the skiing have been extended into May? Definitely.

Blue Mountain ON – April 28 : The other Eastern Canada Intrawest resort, unlike it’s Quebec partner, the Collingwood resort milked the season adding extra weekends as long as it could lasting an extra two weekends than the fixed date closing at Tremblant.

Jay Peak VT – April 28 : They were hoping to make it to May, but it wasn’t going to happen this year. Jay has made to the last liftserved weekend in the Eastern US in the previous 5 seasons: a few times being the only option. Jay Resort had a lot going this Spring with the demolition of the old Stateside Lodge, hoping they can be back in the game next year.

Sugarbush VT – May 4 : Offering free skiing with a donation for one last weekend is a commitment to itself. The skiing was limited to the old Valley Double serving the steep Stein Run. Sugarbush has often pushed till the snow was done. The season ended on the Saturday when part of the return trail to the lift had melted out.

Sugarloaf ME – May 5 : King of Spring in a remote part of Maine. Always amongst the last to close still offering great skiing and always pushing all long as there is snow and skiers. The problem is always snow on the lower slopes.

THE LAST TWO: MSS and K

Just 8 days ago we still had Mont St-Sauveur and Killington with each a 4-10′ base and it looked that they had enough to offer excellent coverage this weekend and maybe even make it into June, then the rain came. An early week of hard warm rain destroyed the deep base. I was somewhat surprise when MSS announced that they weren’t reopening and that their season was over on Wednesday. Then we heard from Killington… June wasn’t going to happen, but were committed into one more weekend and all cost.

Mont St-Sauveur QC – May 19 :

MSS had given a tentative date of May 12 in the early Spring, but conditions remained excellent until their last day. The ski area had blown an incredible amount of snow on Hill 70 and it could have been enough to make to June with a little further help from the weather. This was the first season that MSS didn’t make it to the last weekend of liftserved skiing in the East since 2007, however this season, Killington was determined to run as late as possible and then some. MSS wasn’t looking at what was happening south of the border, their market is Quebec and where they have no competition for season length or late to close.

Killington VT – May 26 :

In the recent past, in a normal year or in a normal ski area; ski areas with the amount of coverage on the Superstar trail with the rain and snow wouldn’t have opened for one last weekend. Killington did regardless if skiers required to walk at several places. If that wasn’t enough, they didn’t charge for lift tickets. Some would say that Killington was on a mission in 2012-13: it wanted to regain some goodwill after many years of letting its diehard public down. We had seen trace of the new attitude last Spring with a more definite sign with the October 13 opening on a difficult tiny snowmaking window. As we got into Spring, Killington mentioned it was willing to do as far as it could and eventually set up a bold June 2 closing date. That was a bold statement for a ski area that hadn’t close in June since 2002 and hadn’t even made beyond the 1st weekend of May since 2005.

What Killington did this season was take bold steps to return to one of the important elements of what made their reputation in the 1980s and 1990s: get started as soon as possible and kept spinning lifts until they isn’t any snow left. Welcome back Killington, you’ve been missed. I’m always cautious before making a statement like that: I surely hope that it wasn’t a one-year trial and that the mighty K is back to the attitude it once had.

It’s Snow

As I mentioned at the start of this post, skiing isn’t limited to lifts or to the East either. Ski Season is never over, it just become harder, goes further and moved to where the snow is. MadPat has lived that motto in recent years with endless ski season. There is still going to be skiing in June in the East, you just need to work a bit harder to get at it.

That being said, this past weekend gave an extremely rare May powder day, areas across the northern Greens at places like Jay and Stowe and spilled into Quebec’s Mont Sutton, but it was New York’s Whiteface got hit by the most snow in this freak storm with a reported 34″ of snow. Jay and Stowe got around 18″. I choose a terrible weekend for RnR which I was really needed. Please Kick Me!!!

A few people captured the moment and headed for the higher grounds. I’ve seen some pictures, here are a few:

Snow on the blogs:

This is how the FIS gang captured the moment at Stowe: The Rarest of May Flowers

JSpin give a great insight into the build up anticipation and result in his Stowe, May 26, 2013 Trip Report.

TheRudeness from Montreal posting a video from Whiteface : Party in the Patrol Shack

Snow on the Ski Forums:

Jonathan riding lifts and earning turns all on the same day at Killington
Vt_freeheel also at Killington for the last day
Thin Cover TR from Jay Peak : Late May Storm Skiing in Northern VT
J’hais_le_damé_durcie at Jay (visible only to Zoneski members) : Jay Peak 26 Mai 2013
TBatt at Whiteface today

Like the late October’s 34″+ of snow in West Virginia, this up to 34″ Memorial Day weekend storm is a nice bookmark to the powder season in the East. Or is it???

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Liftserved options for next weekend in North America:

Ski Mad World isn’t limited to the East, where is what’s happening for the coming weekends for liftserved skiing on the continent. 6 ski areas across North America : 5 ski areas for next weekend then probably 3 until late June when Blackcomb reopens for Summer skiing.

Mammoth Mountain CA – June 1*
Arapahoe Basin CO – June 9*
Crystal Mountain WA – June 16
Beartooth Basin MT – July 13
Blackcomb/Whistler BC – June 22 to July 28
Timberline Lodge OR – September 3

*edit: May 29 5PM – Mammoth closing June 1 and A-Basin one week later

And there are many other options the other continents in the coming months.

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LIST OF CLOSURE 2012-13 IN THE EAST – LAST 8

Killington VT – May 26
St-Sauveur QC – May 19
Sugarloaf ME – May 5
Sugarbush VT – May 4
Jay VT – April 28
Ste-Anne QC – April 28
Blue ON – April 28
Sutton QC – April 27

Previous years:

2006: May 5 – Bretton Woods
2007: May 6 – MSS, K, Sugarbush, Wildcat
2008: May 11 – MSS
2009: May 4? – Sugarloaf on Monday?, MSS, Jay and Sugarbush
2010: May 3? – Sugarloaf on Monday?, MSS and Jay
2011: May 22 – MSS
2012: May 6 – MSS
2013: May 26 – K

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Latest closing date since I’ve been official keeping track in 2006 – season latest in bold:

Previous Late closing dates

2013 : Killington – May 26
2011 : May 22 – St-Sauveur
2013 : May 19 – St-Sauveur
2011 : May 15 – Jay Peak
2008 : May 11 – St-Sauveur
2011 : May 9 – Sugarloaf
2012 : May 6 – St-Sauveur
2007: May 6 – St-Sauveur, Sugarbush, Wildcat & Killington

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List of Killington Seasons since 1966-67

** Appreciation Day
* 2005/2006 : Open for one weekend after huge October storm, reopen on November 19. K record states season as “October 29-30, Nov 19 – May 1”

Season Open – Close / Ski Days
2012/2013 October 13** – May 26
2011/2012 October 29 – April 22 / 176
2010/2011 November 2 – May 1 / 179
2009/2010 November 7 – April 25 / 153
2008/2009 November 2 – May 2 / 169
2007/2008 November 16 – April 20 / 157
2006/2007 November 23 – May 6 / 165
2005/2006* October 29* – May 1 / 166
2004/2005 November 9 – May 15 / 188
2003/2004 November 10 – May 12 / 184
2002/2003 October 25 – May 26 / 204
2001/2002 November 6 – June 1 / 202
2000/2001 October 29 – May 27 / 202
1999/2000 October 25 – May 29 / 205
1998/1999 October 22 – May 25 / 204
1997/1998 October 1 – May 25 / 205
1996/1997 October 4 – June 22 / 233
1995/1996 October 17 – June 10 / 224
1994/1995 October 3 – June 4 / 214
1993/1994 October 1 – June 9 / 243
1992/1993 October 1 – June 1 / 229
1991/1992 October 21 – June 14 / 226
1990/1991 October 27 – May 28 / 214
1989/1990 October 10 – May 28 / 208
1988/1989 October 13 – May 21 / 211
1987/1988 October 12 – June 1 / 227
1986/1987 October 10 – June 3 / 224
1985/1986 October 1- June 3 / 224
1984/1985 November 3 – June 2 / 212
1983/1984 October 20 – June 21 / 246
1982/1983 October 17 – June 16 / 240
1981/1982 October 20 – June 15 / 225
1980/1981 October 14 – May 27 / 226
1979/1980 October 10 – May 23 / 221
1978/1979 October 16 – May 22 / 219
1977/1978 October 24 – May 23 / 195
1976/1977 October 27 – May 15 / 201
1975/1976 October 30 – May 5 / 173
1974/1975 October 19 – May 12 / 190
1973/1974 November 5 – April 30 / 177
1972/1973 October 20 – April 15 / 184
1971/1972 November 9 – May 18 / 192
1970/1971 November 18 – May 21 / 184
1969/1970 October 24 – May 4 / 178
1968/1969 November 9 – May 10 / 183
1967/1968 November 5 – April 7 / 154
1966/1967 November 4 – May 2 / 180

Source: MadPatSki attic collection

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Previous weeks:

Ski Mad World’s weekly Eastern Closing 2013 posts:
Go skiing this weekend!!! – Eastern Closing Thread 2012-13 – Part 1
Eastern Closing Thread 2012-13 – Part 2
Start of Spring Skiing – Eastern Closing Thread 2012-13 : Part 3
Full Spring – Eastern Closing Thread 2012-13 Part 4
May Five – Eastern Closing Thread 2012-2013 Part 5
Corn Deep in May – Eastern Closing Thread 2012-13 Part 6
Skiing Not Gone Yet – Eastern Closing Thread 2012-2013 Part 7
No Encore at St-Sauveur – Eastern Closing Thread 2012-13 Part 8

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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.

mtl-loaf
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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