by Paul Maraschiello


I took a weekend trip to the Waterville Valley ski area and was surprised by how near it is to the Manchester airport. It only took me about an hour and a half. It's a straight shot on Rt. 93 and the exit is well marked.

I was staying at a condo at the Town Square. When I got there, I found that I should have invited a half dozen of my friends to come with me. The place was a HUGE three-story condo with three bedrooms that could sleep eight people. It had a comfortable living room and is part of a complex that has shops, restaurants, bars and more. This was really spacious lodging in a classic mountain setting. Rates range from $154 - midweek to $441 for holiday vacation periods. To book a reservation call: (888) 462-9887.

I lucked out and not only got to do a lot of skiing at a really great New England ski area, I had a chance to watch amateur and professional skiers compete in a Rail Jam that they called the Jib Jam. At Waterville Valley, they bill themselves as the "altitude without the attitude" mountain, what's old is new again.

In the United States, standardized freestyle competitions began in the 1960s with the first freestyle skiing event taking place in Waterville Valley in 1966. In 1971, Waterville Valley hosted the first National Championships of freestyle skiing. The event was the first freestyle event with major support and a substantial first place prize - a Corvette Sting Ray.

On my visit, freestyle skiing made a return and Waterville Valley's Jibberific Junkyard Jib Jammin' Jamboree. I was lucky enough to witness this new twist on the aerials of the '60s and '70s. In Waterville Valley's Jib Jammin competition, skiers slid on, or "jib," elements that have been found in Waterville Valley's Boneyard, a graveyard for old equipment and machinery at the resort. It's unlikely "jibbing" and "jammin'" were terms freestyle skiers used back in the '70s, but the competitors were jibbing and jammin' their way through Waterville's Exhibition Park. Four elements, including "Old Smokey," an excavator that was laid to rest in the early '80s, was placed on the hill above Waterville Valley's Street Hubba, a new urban-style element with stairs and rails.

Adding to the unique aspect of the event will be the judging process. Pros and amateurs will ski together in two groups. The first group will judge the second group and vice versa. Five pros and five amateurs from each group will advance to the finals. The winners will be determined by all the remaining competitors who did not make it to the finals.

"We've hosted top notch snowboarding events over the years, and thought it was time to offer something to all the hot freeskiers we have in the park," said Waterville Valley Youth Marketing Manager Mike Bettera. "We wanted to offer them something unique and original- an event they're not going to find anywhere else."

The winner of the professional division skied away with $1500 while the winner of the "best trick" took home $500. The top three amateurs received prizes from K2. The resort is also offering a $500 prize for the best photo of the day.

For the Pros:
Richie Paradise was 1st and won $1500 cash. Willis Brown came in 2nd, and Wit Foster was 3rd.

For the Amateurs:
P.J. Beagaurd was the big winner, taking home a pair of K2 skis, Bo Jangles was 2nd, and Scott Towne was 3rd.

WV Ranger Award was won by Pat Coulburn who did sick tricks on tele skis.

Best Trick on the Hubba was won by Willis Brown who took home $500 with a "blindside double switch up 270 out"

In addition to the Jib Jam, Waterville Valley hosted a really great party for all of their staff. They really know how to treat the ski bums that work there. They have staff that comes from all over the world. The gal that told me about the party came all the way from South Africa to become a ski bum at Waterville Valley.

Waterville gave away skis, ski skates and other prizes including round-trip tickets from Southwest Air to anyplace they fly. These were won by a ski bum that works in the ski shop. They had a great band and the crowd really responded to the music and songs belted out by the beautiful singer by applauding, crowding the dance floor and dancing all night long.

Waterville Valley is a really great mountain with 255 skiable acres, 52 trails. The summit elevation is 4,004 ft. with a vertical drop of 2,020 ft. They have a super pipe and at least three Alpine Parks that includes the Little Slammer Mini Park. The resort has 52 trails and provides tree skiing. Their trails are rated 20% Novice, 60% Intermediate and 20% Advanced. They have five chair lifts that include two high-speed quads. They also have four surface lifts. The lift lines were only long on the White Peak Express Quad on Saturday but once you got on the mountain, the other chairs didn't have any lines at all, including the one that goes to the summit. On Sunday, there were no major lift lines. They have a funny theme that decorated the chair lifts and shuttle that ads a little humor and makes this great ski area even more fun.

Ruthie's Run from the peak was short and sweet. True Grit was very steep and I really got going because they had groomed it nicely on one side. The other side was set up for a bump contest and was roped off when I was there but some people were skiing it anyway. The Chute was in great shape and so were expert trails Gamma and Ciao. The bumps at Waterville were in nice shape and they were just the right size for me.

I had lunch on the porch at the Schwendi Hutte on Saturday and the hamburger was large and grilled to perfection. On Sunday, I had the ribs at the Buckets and they were very good, too.

All the people I met at Waterville Valley were very friendly and I really enjoyed this family-oriented resort. If you decide to go to Waterville Valley, hurry up. They have extended their ski season and will close in April 10th. Between now and then, they will have really excellent spring skiing and I know you will enjoy it, no mater what your skiing level happens to be.