The latest from the ski world
February 23, 2021
Despite fears that this winter would be a disaster for the ski industry given the damn virus, the season has settled into a nice rhythm. The northeast and much of the west (except for the northwest and BC) had a slow start primarily due to mother nature not coming through with enough snow. But even that has changed, and you would have to work hard right now to find a resort disappointedly low on snow. And then perhaps, more importantly, the industry has weathered Covid quite well. Yes, there have been some outbreaks directly tied to ski areas (see Covid Update #4) and there have been lodging issues, but rarely has a US resort had to close or severely limit capacity to date. And while skier visits are clearly down, particularly at destination resorts where lodging and meals present unique Covid issues, people are out skiing!
Given all that, we thought it is an interesting time to take a tour of recent tidbits and ski industry news, including one event that conSKIerge co-founder Charlotte experienced first hand…
The big ski news of the week comes out of Utah and Little Cottonwood Canyon, the home of Alta and Snowbird. Due to the combination of the amount of traffic and the avalanche danger, the road up LCC is rated one of the most dangerous in the world. Not surprisingly given the prodigious amount of snow Alta/Snowbird gets, the road is often closed and the ski areas are Interlodged (not allowing anyone outside buildings). See Record Alta Interlodge for our experience with a 52 hour interlodge last ski season. Well the winter of 2020/2021 was not to be outdone! Alta received over 100 inches of snow last week and the interlodge conditions lasted for 60 hours. The result was what is locally called Country Club skiing – a day where the road remains closed, but the areas are open.
Those of you who know us are aware that we love Mad River Glen in Vermont (ski it if you can – we can and we did). We have long admired the mix of their sense of reality, hope and humor in their daily snow reports. After a long stretch of deep snows with no rain, unfortunately all of VT was hit with some immature snow last week. While most of their brethren hid the issue, MRG’s report contained the following:
“The heavy moisture content found in the unexpectedly warm snow from Tuesday has stiffened up since then resulting in the current conditions. Anyone brave enough to step off the groomers today will want to have their edges sharp and reflexes even sharper. The steeper, expert-level trails are packed with now quite solid moguls that pose a challenge to even the most experienced skiers. Those who venture there might even find some soft, wind-blown snow in a few pockets thanks to sustained high winds in the last 24 hours. Those very same clouds will start dropping some needed new snow by Friday morning. The air temperature will increase slightly from yesterday to a high of 19 degrees along with softer winds in the 6 to 11 mph range. Much like yesterday, skier traffic will help break up and soften our new crust layer, let’s all do our part today and make some turns for Mad River Glen!”
For those of you who were dreaming of skiing deep powder in Scotland we have bad news. You guessed it, Covid strikes again – the Scottish ski resorts (we know that sounds like a oxymoron, but they do exist) are closed. Check out this BBC video – Closed ski resorts in Scotland see best snow in years. But at least one skier has rediscovered backcountry skiing in the Highlands. See Scotland – Best Conditions in the World?
As a sign of the continued avalanche issues across the country, even the New York Times has continued to cover the issue. See NYT Backcountry Safety Article. Do us a favor and don’t use this as your sole source of safety information, but it is an interesting read and a sign that unfortunately the issue is big enough this winter to make it into mainstream media.
We are always looking for good news on ways skiing can be a more inclusive sport. In that hunt we ran across the following Winter 4 Kids Article on the US Ski Team’s involvement. Winter 4 Kids, based in New Jersey, mission is to “Improve the lives, health and fitness of youth through winter activities. Learn more about the organization here.
Glade Optics goggles are a conSKIerge favorite. We originally focused on them given their affordable pricing, but continue to recommend them for their seriously good quality. The folks at Glade have started releasing short videos featuring their recent trips to explore different ski areas. The latest chronicles their visit to unique Wolf Creek in southern Colorado on a powder day. See Glade Visits Wolf Creek with 16 New.
World Cup Skiing
Unfortunately things have not be so good natured at the recently completed World Cup ski racing events. Parallel Giant Slalom was a new event in this year’s World Cup but things did not go smoothly. Given a perceived advantage of one course over the other anger was directed at the race director. See Death Threats at World Cup.