Early Skiing at Okemo

by Paul Maraschiello


We had our first snow storm and I knew they got a lot more snow up in Vermont, so I purchased a plane ticket to Albany where I planned to rent a car and drive to Okemo. As luck would have it, the Dunlap Graspic snow tires I ordered for my all-wheel drive Dodge Stealth arrived from the Tire Rack (thanks to Alex) and were installed on my car on Thursday. I sat in my office on Friday and I debated the pros and cons of working all day and flying verses hopping in my car and driving to Vermont. As I would arrive two hours earlier if I drove and would have a chance to try out my new ski car in the snow, I decided to drive.

I made good time on the trip up to Vermont, and was looking forward to hitting the slopes. When I got to Okemo, everything was just as I expected. Everyone was friendly, there were no lift lines and the slopes were well-groomed. Mountain Dew was sponsoring race events and there was a regional slalom race taking place on the race course where youths for all over New England were competing. I kept my eyes open for my old roommate Phil Salzano who coaches for Okemo but never ran into him. I'll have to catch up with him on my next visit to Okemo.

Okemo always does a great job grooming and I that ski area was a good choice for that weekend, as it had rained and then the temperature plummeted. Because of the excellent job of grooming crew, the trails were in good shape. My Volkl P50s held just fine and I spent the entire day going up and down, up and down, and up and down as fast as I could.

Okemo has added so much new terrain that there was never much of a wait and any of the chairs. In fact, on some of the runs, I was the only one in the lift line at the South Face Express and the Lower Fall Line lift was empty too. Even the Norhtstar Express Quad had a very short line that disappeared mid-day when everyone was in the lodge having lunch. No lift lines mean more runs for you and me.

Speaking of lunch, I decided to eat at the Sugar House Lodge. Although the main food line was closed, the BBQ on the porch was open serving burgers, Italian sausage, hot dogs, ribeye steak and grilled chicken sandwiches accompanied by tasty pasta salad and baked beans. I had a really tasty lunch and got back on the slopes for some high-speed cruising.

It got a little chilly, especially on the top of the mountain on Saturday, so I broke down and purchase a pair of those chemical foot-warmers for a couple of bucks at the little shop at the peak and they really kept my toes warm.

My thighs began to burn by the middle of the afternoon, so I called it quits for my first day on the snow and headed back to my lodge for a little R&R. I kicked back in my room and watched a little TV. Now that Vermont has cable, you can get 75 channels. It's not like the old days when you could only get one channel if you were lucky.

The next day, it was a little warmer. The snowmaking and grooming crews had done another terrific job and the trails were in excellent shape, even better than they had been on Saturday. I spent the entire day going up and down, up and down, and up and down as fast as I could. I had the forethought to touch up my edges with my sharpening tool, so my skis held really well and I had another great day on the snow.

I met a lot of very friendly people on the chairlifts and had fun talking to them on the rides up the hill. There were 24 miles of open terrain at Okemo with moguls on Sel's Choice for all the bump lovers. Everyone I met was having a good time and enjoying their visit to Okemo.

I decided to leave a little early because there were expecting a snow storm (noreaster) that was predicted to dump up to two feet of snow. I felt confidant that I would be OK with my new ski car but decided that leaving a little early couldn't hurt. I hit snow as I left Vermont and it was almost a white-out as I traveled down the Northway (Rt. 87) towards Albany. The going was a little slow but my all-wheel-drive sports car did just fine with four new snow tires. I passed a number of cars that were off the road but my Stealth handled quite well in the snow. By the time I got off the New York Thruway, the snow had started to turn to rain. I rained very hard all the way home but I made pretty good time . . . considering. I took me 10 and hours driving time which isn't too bad.

The ski season has started in earnest and it looks like it is going to be a great year for skiing and riding. Mother nature has started things off with a bang and it looks like there is going to be another storm which will dump more snow this coming weekend. So, dust off your skis and snow boards and head to your favorite slopes. Keep your eyes open for a guy who skis really well with "SkiBumNews.com" on the back of his jacket. That'll be me. Don't be bashful, say hello. Who know, you might be mentioned in my next story. After all, I rode up the chair with three guys form Long Island when I was at Okemo and they were pretty funny. HI GUYS! You know who you are. It was fun meeting you.

Remember, if you are into manicured corduroy, Okemo is the place to go. Plenty of groomed trails and short lift lines are combined to make for an excellent ski and snowboard experience at this world-class family ski resort. This is an excellent ski area for intermediate and advanced skiers and they do have a few bump runs for people who suffer from mogul mania.