Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Park n Pipe Artists

It's funny how our world has changed from face to face meetings to phone, internet and video conferences. Doesn't anyone like that personal touch anymore? Sure it saves time and money, but it's obviously easier to disagree with people when you can hide behind a computer or phone. Yes, work is still getting done, but constructive criticism is better taken when face to face. All this said, I'm hangin with my man Ross Powers today and we were discussing the Terrain Parks here at Okemo. We've ripped many a mountain and both were in agreeance that our Parks and Pipe crew is killer. These guys are out there everyday (no matter the conditions) maintaining their works of art. Not many people know that these artists sweep thru the parks a couple times a day manicuring each feature to their high specifications. Ross and I were quite impressed with the meticulous dedication to their canvas. You don't get ranked 4th in the COUNTRY and 2nd in the EAST sitting around on your butt so, if you have any suggestions just ask them - don't hide behind your computer - they're human, I swear.

Spring is a Many-Splendored Thing

It's hard to believe, but as I type these words, we are currently enjoying Day 97 of Okemo's winter season. 97 days! Giuliani's presidential campaign didn't last that long! Since we plan to stay open at least through mid-April, that means we've got -- wait, gimme a minute, I can figure this out -- carry the three, subtract the remainder, amortize the cosine... uh... 87 days left in the season! Or twelve days! I don't really know... I wasn't a math major.

Look, my point is that we've still got a lot of season ahead of us, including my favorite time of the season: Spring. (Yeah, I know, "Spring" doesn't officially start until March 20... humor me here, folks. I work at a ski resort in Vermont. Up here, we have three seasons: Winter, Mud Season, and July.) Don't get me wrong... I love the entire winter season, which is a good thing, as I am a ski resort employee and would be a pretty miserable person if winter wasn't really, you know, my bag. But I LOVE Spring.

How MUCH do I love Spring? Let me count the ways... one, two, three, four... twelve... seventeen... pi... hey, I told you I wasn't a math major. OK, lemme list just a few:

1. Warmer temperatures. As the Earth continues its course of approach back toward the sun, a strange thing happens... the mercury on the thermometer begins to rise. (Kids, ask your parents what a "mercury thermometer" is.) The sun comes out a bit more up here in the Hinterlands. The sky begins to acquire a strange shade of what non-Vermonters have informed us is the color "blue". People start wearing fewer clothes. (Two words for ya, folks... "abdominal crunches". Seriously. Start now.) The smell of barbecue begins to waft through the air as Smokey Jo's opens for weekend business. (Uh -- maybe crunches AND an occasional jog wouldn't be a bad idea.) Vegetarians bring their own hummus-filled pita sandwiches instead. It's all good, people!

2. Softer snow. I love Spring snow... hero snow... whatever you want to call it. It's an entirely different sliding experience, and anyone who's never skied Spring snow owes it to themselves to give it a shot. It's a great time to learn, too.

3. Did I mention the fewer clothes? Man, there's nothing like skiing down a still-heavily-blanketed trail wearing nothing but ski pants and a long-sleeve shirt. And a helmet, of course. Just open the vents. It'll be just like having the wind rush through your hair, unless you no longer have any hair, in which case, you can enjoy the wind rushing past your scalp.

4. Spring events. Come springtime, it seems like Okemo loses its collective mind just a little -- seventeen straight months of winter will do that to a person -- and Okemo the Friendly Family Mountain starts hosting, well, some pretty weird events. Check the calendar if you don't believe me.

Heck, I'm getting ahead of myself, here. It's still February. We're still in the middle of what has turned out to be an terrific season. But March, April, and Spring skiing and riding is just around the corner. Personally, I can't wait.

I'm outta here. I gotta go do me some crunches...


Sunday, February 17, 2008

It's A Busy Day - Top 10 Don'ts


Here’s some helpful hints from someone who’s a frequent visitor to Okemo for nearly 15 years. Okemo does have some busy days (like today), but the trail layout and the lift system are designed to handle it. Pay attention and a busy day can be just as fun and rewarding as any other.

1. DON'T plan to arrive at the mountain between 9 and 10 AM on a Saturday, Sunday or during a holiday week. Try to come early, even if one person from the family or group becomes the organizer to buy lift tickets, and escort the family through the rental shop.

2. DON'T start your day without a plan. You’ll make the most of your day on Okemo if everyone has some idea of what’s happening when, who’s skiing with whom, where everyone’s meeting for lunch, etc.

3. DON'T ski like you own the mountain. You may be very familiar with the terrain and the flow of Okemo, but others may be visiting for the first time. Think about your first visit here, or to another mountain… it can be a little unnerving until you figure out a ski resort’s unique code. Help out the first time visitor. Share a little insider knowledge with them and above all, be patient!

4. DON'T wait until morning to get your rental gear. The Okemo Express Rental Shop is open with very convenient hours. You can rent skis/snowboards for the next day beginning at 3:00 PM. The Shop is also open until 10:00 PM on Friday nights through February. Most ski/snowboard rental shops in Ludlow and throughout the Okemo Valley have nighttime hours too.

5. DON'T ski the main lifts all the time. Okemo’s lift system is designed to balance skier/rider flow with fixed-grip lifts in between hi-speed lifts. For example, on a holiday it might be more efficient for you to ride the F-10 Carpet to the Sachem Quad to the Glades Peak Quad to access Okemo’s summit. While these lifts might run more slowly, you’ll be accessing trails with less-traffic.

6. DON'T zone out. Pay attention and anticipate when trail traffic is busy. Don’t assume the skier or snowboarder near you knows you’re there. Ski or ride conservatively, almost defensively as if you are invisible.

7. DON'T forget to use a Trail Map. This helpful guide can be a tremendous resource in planning alternate routes, scheduling family meeting places, or deciding where to have lunch. And Okemo sure has enough great places to eat!

8. DON'T forget to visit before your visit and keep regular tabs on the snow report and Steals & Deals so you maximize your enjoyment and the value of your stay.

9. DON'T venture into Okemo’s parks or SoBe Superpipe unless you are experienced enough to be in there. (If you are not, you should take a parks & pipes lesson.) Don’t stop in the landing area of park features. You will not be visible from above to the skiers or riders on course and you could be responsible for a collision. Head’s up!

10. DON'T assume anything… don’t assume others on the same trail can avoid you. In fact ski or ride as if you are the only one on that trail who’s in control. Take this approach, ski/ride defensively, use your head, and ski smart!

Take it easy. Know The Code…. Be Safe!

Blue Skies, White Snow and Golden Sunshine

It's a color cascade kind of day! How lucky are you if you get to go out and play today? I'm green with envy looking at bluebird skies and white ribbons of freshly groomed corduroy. The cold temps have kept the trees at the summit frosted like a sugar donut, but those golden rays of sunshine are a warm reminder that the days are getting longer and winter is starting to wane. The weeks ahead are my favorite time to ski. It's so good to get together with friends and take to the slopes for a day-long party that starts with first tracks and ends with a frosty amber beverage by the fire. Okemo's group sales team has come up with some pretty special offers for groups of friends and family who can be a little flexible with their planning. It looks like they've had a little fun coming up with these March Madness gems. Cheers!