First Tracks Online
October 8, 2010

This season, Burke Mountain in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom will introduce two new value cards. The Kingdom Sampler and the Ski Free Card are designed to introduce guests to the Northeast Kingdom and save money on lift tickets.

Priced at $69, the Kingdom Sampler Card includes one full day lift ticket at Burke Mountain, one Burke Mountain campsite rental, one Vermont beer sampler flight or Vermont root beer float at the Tamarack Grill, one summer Kingdom Trails day pass, one Nordic Kingdom Trails day pass, 10% off dining at the Tamarack Grill and 10% off lodging at the Carriage House Motel & Burke Mountain Campground, located on the Kingdom Trails. The Ski Free Card offers discounted lift tickets all season and every fifth visit is free. The Ski Free Card also includes 10% off dining at the Tamarack Grill and one complimentary pre-season tune up.

Burke Mountain's cross-country ski terrain is managed by Kingdom Trails and this season they will be making significant improvements to the skating trail network. Jay Peak Resort near the Quebec border welcomes visitors this winter with $13 million in improvements. Topping the list are increases in snowmaking coverage, an enclosed beginner lift, a new Nordic center, an indoor ice arena, a parking garage, a state-of-the-art ticketing system, and a new groomer. The enhancements are part of the resort's ongoing $120 million revitalization effort.

Phase 1 of the expansion at Jay Peak is complete with the Tram Haus Lodge that opened in December of 2009, a brand new Ice Haus arena that opened in May 2010, and the Nordic Center/Golf Clubhouse that opened its doors in June of 2010.

A total of 57 luxury suites in the Tram Haus lodge, and three deluxe condominium suites at the Golf Clubhouse have been added to Jay Peak's bed base thus far. Alice's Table offers a new resort dining option at the Tram Haus Lodge featuring a Vermont-inspired menu, while the new Clubhouse Grille restaurant and bar offers American-style food, and the Tower Bar at the Tram Haus Lodge has lighter fare and appetizers. The Ice Haus Arena has its own heated snack bar and café, and the new Aroma Café offers beverages and snacks.

Jay Peak's new Ice Haus arena features an NHL-sized rink with room for 700 spectators, and offers skating lessons, hockey games and curling tournaments. The Golf Clubhouse is available for golfers in the summer and serves as a Nordic Ski Center during the winter. The Taiga Spa & Fitness Center at the Tram Haus Lodge is available for massage therapy and spa treatments, as well as fitness and yoga classes.

Jay Peak has also broken ground for the next phase of expansion – the “new” Hotel Jay, which will feature 170 rooms, offer three additional restaurant options, and an indoor water park, expected to open in early 2012. The water park will feature a state-of-the-art retractable roof for year-round access. It will have one of the longest indoor rivers in North America, a kamikaze straight drop (the first indoor of its kind in North America) and a double Flow Rider surf machine. There will also be an area available for smaller children.

Snowmaking upgrades top the list of summer projects at Killington Resort, including trunk line replacements, energy efficiency upgrades, pump re-builds and a new cooling system at the South Ridge Pump House. In addition to building up its arsenal of Lower Energy snow guns, including two new fan guns that will be positioned near the bottom of the Superstar and Snowshed trails, Killington will continue to partner with Efficiency Vermont to improve the overall efficiency of its snowmaking system. One such project that was started two years ago and continued over the 2010 summer was the application of a coating to the inside of the pumps that reduces friction and energy needed to pump water throughout the 88-mile system. A new cooling system that drops the temperature of compressed air from more than 120 degrees down to ambient outside temperatures at the South Ridge Pump House will improve efficiency by using much less energy than the old cooling system.

Crews continue to work on numerous improvements throughout the resort as they prepare for the upcoming winter season. In fact, Killington currently has six excavators and a backhoe on the hill working on trail re-grading and snowmaking projects. Crews have completed trail re-grading on the upper Skyewalker/Bittersweet area to improve skier/rider flow and reduce congestion at the intersection. Next up will be re-grading the top portion of Bittersweet where it intersects Great Eastern. Blasting work has removed rocky areas on the Great Eastern Trail near the top of the Needle's Eye Express. The remnants of last fall's Killington Hay Festival are also being recycled for the re-vegetation projects in these areas.

The old control room for the Superstar Express was removed and in its place will be a new control room and a new electric drive control for the lift. Killington also replaced seat cushions on a number of chairlifts and continued to refinish and re-paint several lifts as well, including the towers on the Sunrise Triple, Bear Mountain Quad chairs, Snowdon Triple towers and the upper terminal of the Needle's Eye Express.

Over fifteen years of co-op ownership, Mad River Glen in Fayston has invested more than $4 million in capital improvements, but Mad River's goal is to maintain and preserve the experience rather than overhaul or upgrade it. Both the skier-owners and the management understand that skiers come to Mad River for the unique combination of legendary terrain, sense of community, low skier density and intimate atmosphere.

“We don't want to mess with a winning combination,” President Jamey Wimble explains.

In an effort to save Magic Mountain in Londonderry and raise capital to invest in the infrastructure, the ski area has begun selling shares in the resort. Magic Mountain officials nonetheless continue to improve the snowmaking operations with increased efficiency through renovated air and water snowmaking lines and a streamlined process to making snow.

Middlebury College Snow Bowl near Middlebury has made two improvements this summer that have yielded increased terrain. The popular Cameron Trail has been widened significantly for 2010-11, and a glade has been added between the Lang and Cameron trails.

Mount Snow in the southern Vermont community of West Dover continues to upgrade its snowmaking infrastructure and now claims the most fan guns in North America.

It will be a smooth ride for visitors to Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow this winter, whether they ski and snowboard, or not. The new Okemo Mountain Coaster, a four-season, family attraction will offer an exhilarating ride through alpine forests at Okemo's Jackson Gore. Sled-like cars carrying one or two passengers will ascend 1,600 feet followed by a 375 vertical-foot descent along 3,100 feet of tubular, stainless steel track that follows the contours of the mountain with added waves, camel backs, banking loops and a “twister” section, at speeds of up to 25 mph.

On the slopes Okemo officials have added a third Prinoth BR500 grooming machine for this winter. The 500-horsepower dual turbocharged behemoths are wider and longer than Prinoth's next-largest model.

Finally, the last of Okemo's infamous poma lifts will be dismantled and mothballed this winter. The Snow Star Poma, located in the Galaxy Bowl Learning Area at Okemo's Clock Tower Base Area, is replaced with a 180-foot, magic-carpet-style surface lift. Winter guests at Smugglers' Notch Resort in Jeffersonville will be among the first to enjoy the resort's new canopy tour, located in a scenic valley near the resort village. Participants on the 2.5 to 3-hour tour, the first of its kind in Vermont, will ride more than 4,000 feet of zip line cable, cross suspension bridges, and rappel from trees.

Across Mt. Mansfield from Smugglers' Notch the Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center is opening this December at Stowe Mountain Resort. Developed to operate year-round as a major component of the ski resort, the performing arts center is envisioned as a venue for a wide spectrum of events; theater, music, dance, film, comedy, lectures and multimedia presentations.

“The Arts Center will be the creative and cultural soul of Spruce Peak,” said Walter Frame, President of the Arts Center Foundation. “An eclectic range of events and exhibitions featuring established and emerging artists will inspire, educate and entertain residents, guests and the greater Stowe community.”

2002 Olympic gold medalist Ross Powers returns to his roots at Stratton Mountain School (SMS) at Stratton Mountain Resort as the new head of Snowboarding Programs. In this case, the one time student becomes the teacher. Powers was an SMS student in the 1990s before winning his first Olympic medal in 1998 and then winning Olympic gold on his birthday in Salt Lake City. Powers narrowly missed a spot on the Olympic team in 2010 for snowboardcross.

On the hill, Stratton will upgrade two of its front line Snow Cats with new Prinoth BR350's this winter, with significant technology and efficiency upgrades in snowmaking by adding new snow guns. Operational improvements will be focused around Guest Service, Terrain Parks, Snowsports School and the Tubing Park with a new warming hut added to the ticket purchasing area where guests will be able to hang out and watch while sitting around a bonfire.

Sugarbush Resort in Warren is currently undergoing its largest revitalization effort since opening the first phase of the Lincoln Peak Village in December 2006. The resort is investing close to $10 million in the second phase of the village, as well as upgrades to its snowmaking infrastructure.

Phase 2 of the Lincoln Peak revitalization project, for which construction began in April and is expected to be completed by November, consists of a new entrance plaza as well as two new lodges. The 12,500-square foot "Schoolhouse" will house some of Sugarbush's popular children's programs. The resort's winter Micro, Mini and Sugar Bear programs as well as some summer camps will be located in this facility. The other lodge will provide skier services such as tickets and season passes, guest lockers, adult Ski & Ride, rentals and repairs, public restrooms, and a café. The as-yet-named facility will be approximately 14,500-square feet.

On-mountain Sugarbush began replacing key sections of its snowmaking infrastructure in early July. Over two miles of primary-supply snowmaking pipe will be replaced at both Lincoln Peak and Mt. Ellen. The original pipe was installed in 1997. Work is expected to be complete in late September.

The University of Vermont and Trapp Family Lodge will be hosting the collegiate skiers from all over the United States when they host the NCAA Ski Championships Mar. 9-12, 2011 at the cross country center in Stowe. The new race course has just been certified for homologation by the International Ski Federation (FIS). This should prove to be an exceptional spectator-friendly event, as the course finds its way into the stadium five times in the 7.5 kilometer distance.

The Trapp Lager is the inaugural beer of the new Trapp Family Lodge Brewery. More than a decade ago Johannes von Trapp started thinking about brewing beer for guests of the resort. His dream was to produce an American version of the tasty lager he enjoyed over the years on trips to his ancestral Austrian home. Johannes's dream became reality in the Spring of 2010, with the opening of the Trapp Family Brewery. The modest facility, which will produce 60,000 or so gallons a year, is located in the lower level of the bakery, where bottles and draughts of the concoction will be available year round.

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