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GS DAYS AT OKEMO
By Paul Maraschiello
Thursday before Christmas, we were at Okemo. There were still few people and Okemo has made a lot of snow. They had paved the trails with corduroy and it was another GS day. Okemo was doing their part in preparing for the Christmas visitors. They had a nice base of frozen hard-pack that they had groomed perfectly. I brought a pair of 203 Atomic GS skis for the day, with ESS bindings and racing plates. They were really set up for speed. I was planning on doing a lot of fast cruising on all their man-made snow. One of my roommates had skied there few days before and had told me that they had made a lot of snow. He was right. We began to explore what was open. Everything we skied on was well groomed and fast.
We dined in the cafeteria at the top of the mountain and spent most of the day doing GS turns under the chair and the slopes that fed off that lift. It was obvious that Okemo was gearing up for the Christmas rush. Mother nature was cooperating and it was plenty cold enough to make snow. We had a great time skiing all the trails at Okemo, although we did not make it over to the new Solitude Chair. The lack of lift lines and the prefect snow kept us very happy. Jessie was pleased that her knee was holding it's own and her skiing ability had not deteriorated. She was still able to keep up with her father and she liked to cruise.
At the end of the day, we headed to the airport in Manchester. Jessie had to work the next day, so I had arranged for her to fly back on Southwest Airline. Southwest has a great deal. One way from Manchester to Washington/Baltimore Airport, for only $66.00, round trip for only $132.00. I'd love to find a place to stash a car with a friend in Manchester. I'd fly up much more often if I could.
The Wednesday after Christmas, I headed back to Okemo. This was the first time I encountered long lift lines. There was about a 10 minute wait at the quads at the bottom of the hill. They were having a race and I was interested in shooting it. I love to watch ski racers charge down the mountain. I must admit, I don't know much about racing but I love to watch racers ski. The way they launch themselves out of the gate is beautiful. Seeing them carve their turns and speed down the hill makes me want to burn my skis, they are so good. I spent a lot of time watching more 200 skiers from all over the East compete on this well-groomed hill.
I was there to ski, so after watching the racers ski for a while, I headed up the mountain. I had just picked up my previously owned skis at Replay Sports and was interested in trying them out. This pair of Elan Monoblock PSX skis turned out to be a pretty good all-mountain ski. They were really quick from edge-to-edge and performed well in the bumps. They were just OK at high speeds and had a tendency to chatter a little. On the ice, they were a disappointment. You could make them turn on the ice but you did not get a sense of security.
I skied every trail that was open at Okemo that day. I did Blackout and Noreaster. I kept drifting further and further to the left and found ski lifts services by lonely lift attendants with NO LIFT LINES. The Lower Fall Line chair was consistently EMPTY. If you know where to ski at Okemo, you can get in a lot of vertical miles. I stopped in for a quick tune at the tuning shack on the mountain, at the base of the North Star Express and found that sharp skis help at Okemo. They had made a lot more snow in the few days that had elapsed since I had last skied there and I was really impressed. I skied all over and even went over to the new Solitude area and took a few runs down Exhibition and Heavens Gate to Screaming Demon. I had a good day on the snow and left the slope when the light started to get a little flat. I went into the bar for a beer and enjoyed the band that was belting out Elvis tunes. I waited in line for the shuttle and for the first time, realized that this mountain was really busy. I really like Okemo and plan to ski this friendly mountain more often.