By Albert Neubert
We entered the snow zone on Saturday when from one to a three inches fell across our immediate area. Then, Winter Storm Piper came along on Tuesday and deposited up to eight inches on local ski areas. It finally is feeling like winter heading into the last quarter of the season.
Once again, the Northeast experienced mild temperatures and mixed precipitation, followed by a quick freeze heading into last weekend. Ski area operators went into Chinese fire drill mode and ramped up snow making operations to resurface trails and try to build bases for spring skiing and riding.
The snow that fell on Saturday was dry and powdery and not like the heavy, wet stuff we seem to have gotten used to so far this season. It really made for some nice skiing and snowboarding surfaces until it got scraped off later in the day. If you really want to find decent natural snow, head north into Vermont, the Adirondacks of New York, New Hampshire and Maine where anywhere from 10 to 20 inches fell over the past week with more on the way. It looks like the weather pattern for at least the northern tier ski resorts is turning much more snowy and cold.
I headed southwest on Friday toward the Monticello area and a favorite small ski area of mine, Holiday Mountain. Holiday is in the town of Thompson, five miles east of Monticello and was a major destination ski area in the 1970s and 1980s when that region had dozens of small areas, mostly on the grounds of the sprawling resort hotels, like the one featured in the iconic movie classic, “Dirty Dancing.” Back in its heyday, Holiday had two double chairs, two Poma surface lifts, one T-bar surface lift and two rope tows for beginners. The area featured 14 slopes and trails, three of which were genuinely steep and expert rated.
Holiday was a major bus tour destination for New York City and metro area residents, being less than a 90 minute commute. It would not be unusual for 20 bus groups to fill the parking lots on peak season weekend days but all that changed with the decline and ultimate disappearance of the resort hotels.
Fast forward and Holiday has consolidated into a smaller hill, with the same 400 foot vertical drop, served by a triple chair. There’s also a beginner area with a moving walkway, magic carpet like lift to get the newbies up the slope. Next to the beginner area is a one lane tubing hill that was a beehive of activity when I was there. There are three slopes and cover each level of ability including novice, intermediate and expert. Races and race training are held on the black diamond rated Roman Candle slope which is very wide and has a decent and consistent pitch from top to bottom. Even though the vertical is modest the trails ski bigger and longer because there is no runout; you ski right to the triple chair.
I had the opportunity to chat briefly with the area’s manager, Larry Valentia, who said it’s been a challenging season with the uncooperative weather but their ski club program has seen an uptick in membership this season to over 100 children. It’s a wonderful program that is really a season-long workshop for the kids that can learn and hone their skills with instructors that are assigned to small groups within the club. They practice race training on Saturdays and then participate in races on Sundays on the Roman Candle trail, which is quite a feat for the little ones. The best part is that everyone is a winner! For more information, you can contact Holiday at (845) 796-3161.
Each year in March the U.S. Collegiate Ski & Snowboard championships are held at venues alternating between the East and West. This year’s championships will be at Mammoth Mountain, in the Sierra Mountains of California on March 6-11. If you’ve been wondering where all the snow has gone this season, look no further than the Sierra Nevada mountains where they could see as much as 800 inches this season.
Why am I bringing this up at this late stage of our season? There’s a good reason and that’s because I received a text this past week from Bob McIntee, one of the Army alpine racing team coaches who told me that Cadets out of West Point qualified for the Nationals and will be heading to Mammoth for the championships. The Army Black Knights Men’s team finished first in the Atlantic Highlands region, while the women’s team finished second.
McIntee said that the team’s top-rated performer is 1st year Cadet James Lahrman, who hails from Colorado and he’s followed by senior and team captain Tyler Guetzke, who’s from Wisconsin. There’s even a local ski team member, Tallon Clark, from Goshen and a 2nd year cadet.
Representing the women, there’s top-rated Annesley Black from Maine along with two local skiers. Black is joined by 2nd year cadet, Sarah Grodin, from Monticello, and another 2nd year cadet, Macie Marinich, from Westchester, both of whom had stellar seasons. Rounding out the men’s team are Evan Symes, Sebastion English and Jonathan Jorgensen. The rest of the women’s team includes Ann Hayes, Alana Kerner and Sarah Jeong.
Let’s all give the Black Knights’ alpine ski team a collective “hooah” shout out!
Let’s also keep this winter thing going and happy skiing and riding! You can contact me at email@example.com or you can visit my Instagram page at asneubert.