The first week in December Vermont ski areas made some exciting announcements about what’s new for this season and beyond. From high-speed lifts to new freeride terrain, to brand new eateries and bars and more, here’s what skiers can look for.
Suicide Six Builds Out a Park + Freeride Terrain
Thanks to a partnership with Arena Snowparks, Suicide Six Ski Area plans to open two brand new terrain parks for the 2019-2020 ski season. The Woodstock resort opens Saturday, Dec. 14.
The first park, slated for Milky Way, will feature friendly and fun, smaller, entry-level terrain perfect for new or first-time park skiers and riders or groms. A new park on the intermediate trail Lasky’s Lot will cater to intermediate skiers and riders.
“The upgraded snowmaking capabilities installed last season, coupled with an all-star terrain team, have set the groundwork for the freestyle initiative at Suicide Six,” says General Manager Tim Reiter.
Keep an eye out for a variety of custom-designed rails and boxes, including a 22-foot fat rainbow rail, a 30-foot flat down box and a 20-foot flat rail.
Both parks are designed to support progression for both skiers and riders and will
feature safe teaching areas, for private and semi-private lessons that will be offered this season by the ski area.
In addition to the new flow features on Milky Way and Lasky’s Lot, Suicide Six is designating the “majority of the east side of [the mountain] serviced by Chair 2” as freestyle terrain. The new trail offers hits and jibs throughout while leaving space for skiers and riders to enjoy existing groomers without hitting new features.
Check out the new terrain on Dec. 28 at the inaugural Festivus Rail Jam competition, slated to take place under the lights on the bottom of Lasky’s Lot. The competition is open to skiers and riders, with two hike-accessible rail selections to accommodate a wide range of abilities and a cash prize for the winner.
On Feb. 9, the ski area hosts the SoPo Ranch Slopestyle Contest, a family-friendly jam specifically for youth skiers and riders ages 7-17.
Okemo Gets A New Chairlift and More
On Dec. 9, Vail Resorts announced that Okemo Mountain Resort will see some big upgrades during the 2020/2021 ski season.
The resort will upgrade the existing four-person Quantum lift to a six-person, high-speed chairlift. The four-person quantum lift will be moved to replace the Green Ridge three-person chairlift, dramatically increasing uphill capacity and improving circulation across the resort.
Vail Resorts also plans to renovate and expand both Okemo’s dining and ski school facilities and make changes to the ski area’s main entrance.
Though the total amount to be invested at Okemo has not yet been announced, the upgrades are part of Vail Resorts’ plan to invest approximately $210-$215 million in guest experience across its 37 resorts. That’s in addition to the $190-$195 million it plans to have invested across its resorts by the end of 2019.
Magic Mountain’s New Lift Will Go On-Line Mid-Winter
This season, Magic Mountain will see a new quad lift. The new chairlift, which will replace the old Black Line double to service some of the mountain’s most challenging terrain, will likely be up and running by late January or early February.
A lot of logistics go into replacing or upgrading a chairlift—it’s essentially a full-on construction project that takes place on steep, mountainous terrain. According to Magic’s President and owner Geoff Hatheway, the mountain has had to troubleshoot a host of unforeseen challenges—from a broken-down Freightliner to Winter Storm Ezekiel and random customs inspections.
The chairlift’s communications line, which runs from the top of the lift to its base, is currently en route from Europe. The piece of equipment was ordered in June and has finally made it through U.S. Customs in Los Angeles, after being delayed on a ship that broke down and had to return to port in Abu Dhabi for several weeks. It was, according to Hatheway, one of the few containers held up by customs for further inspection upon arrival.
“You just can’t make some of this stuff up,” said Hatheway in a Dec. 5 letter to Magic Mountian skiers and riders.
The mid-mountain Green Lift and Red Line Lift are currently in operation. For those looking to shred Magic’s iconic steeps this holiday season, fear not! You can still access all of that epic terrain via the Red Line.
Until the new chairlift is up and running, Magic’s management plans to cap the number of day lift tickets sold to 1,500 on a given morning, just like last season.
If you’re weighing a trip to Magic Mountain for your next powder day, go for it and get there early. You’ll find all the same steeps and untracked powder and, thanks to their proactive and unique approach to crowd management, you’ll never have to jostle for space.
That said, we can’t wait for that new quad!
For more about what makes skiing at Magic Mountain so unique, plus its epic comeback, see “Magic Mountain’s Next Act” in our Holidays issue, out on stands now.
Sugarbush Shakes Things Up
Sugarbush Resort added two new leaders to its culinary team: Stephane Ohayon, the new Vice President of Food & Beverage, and Vanessa Davis, who will serve as the new Executive Chef at the revamped Rumble’s Bistro & Bar.
Ohayon started his career at the age of 12 when he started working in his father’s restaurant, but he says he really learned the culinary trade through his grandmother’s cooking.
Having studied international business in college, Ohayon ultimately returned to the
hospitality business—his first passion. Over the years, he’s owned three restaurants: a French-inspired restaurant in Breckinridge, Colo. called Belle V, a French bistro called Entre Nous in Seattle, Wash. and one in the Dominican Republic.
He’s no stranger to the ski industry either. Ohayon previously served as food and beverage director at Keystone in Colo., and as the vice president of food and beverage at Alyeska in Alaska.
He’s already tuned into some of what makes the Mad River Valley so special.
“I believe you need to take what the earth gives you, enhance it and try not to distort it too much,” says Ohayon. “We hope to bring that belief here and I’m excited to come and work for a resort so focused on integrity and honesty. I’ve inherited a great team…”
For her part, Davis began her career as an intern for the old Timbers Restaurant at Sugarbush in 2008. From there, she tackled various culinary jobs in Vermont and New Hampshire, including at the J. Morgan Steakhouse in Montpelier and The Essex Resort & Spa in Essex Junction. She served as the executive chef at The Eagle Mountain House & Golf Club in Jackson. N.H. and as executive chef at Kimpton Hotel’s Copper Grouse in Manchester, Vt.
The new Rumble’s Bistro and Bar (open now) features simple food with high-quality ingredients and an array of dishes that reflect Ohayon’s French influence and Davis’ northern New England influence. The new menu uses Vermont produce wherever possible.
Rumble’s is open daily for breakfast through the ski season, as well as for dinner Wednesday through Sunday. Once ski season is in full swing, the restaurant will be open for dinner daily with lunch on weekends.
Try the Fried Goat Cheese Salad or Switchback-Braised Short Rib.
Featured Photo: Though Okemo’s famous bubble chair will remain, the ski area is slated to see a new high-speed, six-seater chairlift next season. Photo courtesy Okemo.