One sunny Saturday last winter we did something few people who live in northern Vermont usually do: we drove two hours south to ski. We had seen three weekends of epic snow—and epic parking challenges and epic liftlines—at the larger resorts and we were ready for a different scene. Our destination was Magic Mountain, a place I hadn’t skied in many years.
Pulling into the area was like entering a time warp. Vintage Swiss chalets dotted the short access road. Everyone in the parking lot seemed to know each other. That lift-line tension that seems grow as more and more powder-hungry skiers descend on the Greens, was nowhere to be felt.
We waited for perhaps five minutes before boarding the Red Chair to the top and then lapped steep run after steep run, tucking into the woods where there was still some untracked to be had even at 11 a.m.
While the majority of the 4 million-plus skier and riders who come to Vermont each winter hit the larger resorts, there are still gems like Magic where the lines are short, tickets are cheap and there’s still a craziness that many risk managers have steered other corporate-owned resorts away from.
Magic is not alone. In “It Takes a Village” we write about six community-run non-profit areas, including Cochran’s where Friday night dinner and skiing costs just $12. And, to prove that size doesn’t matter, Doug Lewis—once one of the fastest skiers in the world, a guy who earned a bronze medal in downhill in the World Championships in 1985—writes about how he whetted his need for speed growing up at the Middlebury College Snow Bowl. (Full disclosure, the Snow Bowl is our home hill, too—just 20 minutes from the office—and we were a little reluctant to let the secret out.)
As Alterra continues to acquire resorts such as Stratton and, now Sugarbush (see p. 10), and Vail Resorts (owner of Stowe, Okemo and Mount Snow) marches toward world domination, places like Magic, the Snow Bowl, Suicide Six or even tiny Northeast Slopes (shown above), seem like snow globes from another era, time bubbles of sorts. And, as Allison Thorner, granddaughter of Magic founder Hans Thorner says in “Magic’s Next Act,” “These days I think that bubble is not such a bad place to be.” —Lisa Lynn, Editor
Featured Photo Caption: At Northeast Slopes, neighbors help neighbors, (and sneak in a few laps while they do it). Photo by Brian Carroll.