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After rain, ski resorts to bounce back for holidays

December 21, 2018

Once we get past the miserable rain, warm temperatures and fog, there will still be plenty of skiing and snowboarding this Christmas/New Year’s holiday week.

Wisely, all four Connecticut areas were closed Friday because of heavy rain. After some grooming, Mount Southington, Powder Ridge Mountain Park and Mohawk Mountain plan to open Saturday. Catamount and Butternut, just over the border in Massachusetts, were also closed Friday to preserve their snow.

Ski Sundown in New Hartford said it needed another day to prepare for its reopening on Sunday.

Even northern areas could not escape the dreaded weather. Most resorts were open with wet snow, variable conditions and “machine groomed hard pack” on the trails.

The good news is much better weather - and conditions - will be the rule during the all important holiday week.

“The effects of this very active warm front will be short lived,” Killington in Vermont said Friday. “It starts to move out of our area on Saturday, and by Saturday night our snowmakers will be back on the job, resurfacing and expanding terrain for the holiday week. Our extended forecast calls for consistently good snowmaking weather, and maybe even a little natural snow, into at least the middle of Christmas week.”

Mount Snow in Vermont reduced its trail count Friday “in preservation of our snow and to maintain the best riding experience for everyone in the days to come.”

It said, “We’ve taken the proper precautions to get back up to our 60+ trail count and moving forward to 100% open. This is all due to having the most powerful snowmaking system in the Northeast, where starting tomorrow we will have over 900 guns blowing snow throughout the next five days. That is in addition to having stock piled whales around the mountain that we will be breaking out of hibernation to spread across our runs. So It’s safe to say that after today you won’t even know that it had rained.”

Thanks to above-average natural snowfall and weeks of snowmaking, northern resorts in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and New York can easily bounce back from miserable weather. The forecast for next week calls for seasonal temperatures with below-freezing evening temperatures. There’s even a chance of snow snow later in the week.

This week, northern Vermont areas like Jay Peak, Burke and Stowe picked up between 8 inches and a foot of snow. Green Mountain State resorts have up to 75 percent of their terrain open. Areas in the White Mountains in New Hampshire also saw a decent snowfall this week with nearly a foot.

For the latest snow conditions, click here

How to deal with crowds during the holiday

Christmas-New Year’s week is one of the busiest times at ski resorts. Lines on lift lines can get long, lodges packed and there’s more people on the trails.

With more people at resorts, it’s important to have a plan to deal with the crowds.

First, if you’re not that familiar with an area, it’s wise to study a trail map, not only knowing where the green, blue and black trails are, but how you can move around the mountain with the lifts.

While it can be difficult to get family and friends up early in the morning, try to do it during the holiday week.

That’s because getting an early start pays huge dividends.

Unless you’ll be staying in a slopeside condo or lodge, you need to find a parking space. Getting there early, you find the best spaces and won’t have to take a shuttle bus from a remote parking lot.

If you have a family with lots of gear, it’s wise to drop off the gear at the curbside of the lodge before parking the vehicle. The trick is property organizing the equipment in the vehicle, keeping skis, snowboards, bootings and clothing all together. Better yet, you can drop off the family - with the gear - and park the vehicle yourself.

Be sure to arrange a meeting space in the lodge where the family can get ready for the mountain.

Lifts start turning as early as 8 p.m. Try to get in line a few minutes before they start running. Your reward: Get some first tracks on perfectly groomed slopes without the crowds.

Ski and ride your favorite trails early in the area of the resort that often gets crowded first.

Like clockwork, crowds start to show up around 10 a.m. By that time, you’ve already made several runs.

Now it’s time to move around the mountain.

Upper-mountain lifts can give you a few 1,000-vehicle drop runs. While people are waiting in the lift line at the base, you’re still carving turns.

Around 11 a.m. is a good time to have an early lunch. Look for lodges away from the main base area. Summit lodges are perfect.

The least crowded spaces in a lodge are often upstairs, not on the lower level.

After lunch and a couple of hours of more runs and you’re ready to kick back and enjoy the off-slope pleasures of the resort.

Happy holidays and enjoy!

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