Ski areas roll out early season events no matter what the conditions

Sunday, November 06, 2016

The season of guns and hoses has begun, with central Vermont’s Killington achieving Eastern bragging rights with its Oct. 25 opening.

As ski areas roll out the opening day carpet throughout the month, there are still plenty of twig season resort events highlighted by the Big K hosting an Alpine World Cup in the East for the first time in some 25 years. Stellar U.S. Ski Team members Lindsey Vonn, Mikaela Shiffrin and Julia Mancuso are expected as Killington lays out its man-made white carpets for the women’s giant slalom and slalom races Nov. 26-27.

Tickets are sold out. But there’s free standing room admission – some 7,500 spectators per day are expected – near the base of the Superstar Trail where the fans can catch the action on a jumbo screen. Expect free parking and a beefed up shuttle service during the weekend. An autograph session is set for Nov. 26 at 4 p.m. at the K-1 base area.

“The expo village will have approximately 50 vendors set up, offering everything from local artisan food and craft products to the latest ski industry hard goods and technology,” communications manager Michael Joseph said.

So find those cow bells and let ‘em rock.

The early-season events don’t end there. There’s everything from grassroots rail jams to Thanksgiving runs.

Sugarbush and Mad River Glen team up for the Nov. 19 Big Kicker at Waitfield’s Lareau Farm Inn with a rail jam, ski movies and a bonfire.

“It’s a way to bring the entire Mad River Valley ski community together before the season to party down and get pumped up for the season,” Mad River’s marketing director Eric Friedman said.

The University of Vermont Freestyle Skiing Team’s Triple Crown series starts Nov. 19 with its Design and Ride Rail Jam at Stowe.

The 11th annual Cease and Desist rail jam at Loon in Lincoln on Nov. 26, a night time event, features a $1,000 purse. It’s a chance for the park staff to unveil their offseason creations.

“We always work hard to create new and exciting features in our parks, so this event really sets the tone for the winter,” Loon communications manager Greg Kwasnik said.

Wildcat’s Holiday Jib Jam Nov. 26-27 is an open event where you can buy a hike-only ticket for $3.

The 35th annual Boston Ski and Snowboard Expo at the Seaport World Trade Center begins on Thursday and runs through Nov. 13. The show is a fine spot to load up on free stocking stuffers, pick up equipment deals, find some lift ticket steals, discover ski areas new to you and check out some crazy sideshows from trampolines to slacklines. Save a few bucks on a ticket at bewisports.com.

There are also plenty of gear swaps where you can stock up on essentials. The Okemo Mountain School annual Ski and Snowboard Swap is Nov. 18-20 in the Clock Tower Base Lodge at the Ludlow, Vt. resort. The Waitsfield Ski and Skate Sale runs Nov. 12-13 at Waitsfield Elementary School saves you money on clothing and gear.

Ski areas get into the racing habit around Thanksgiving with many participants making it fun with a holiday costume. Make room for turkey on Nov. 24 with the morning Thanksgiving Day 5K run at on the Nordic trails at King Pine in East Madison. Also on that day is Stratton’s annual Gobble Gobble Wobble 5K and Killington’s Turkey Trot 5K.

For those who feel guilty about gaining all those calories, there’s plenty of chances to start running them off. Okemo’s Trot It Off 5K on Nov. 25 has runners and walkers churning those legs from Jackson Gore Village. Mount Snow’s Turkey Hangover Hillclimb is a free event on Nov. 25 where you can sprint, or not, up the mountain. Beginners climb to the bottom of Yard Sale. Intermediates go to the top of Yard Sale using the Exhibition Trail. Experts huff it to the top of Yard Sale using the Exhibition and Yard Sale trails.

Better yet, eat more salad and have fruit for dessert. Yeah, right.

Warren Miller’s films have been pumping up winter lovers for nearly seven decades, and homecoming weekend at Bretton Woods on Nov. 25-27 includes a screening of Miller’s latest “Here, There and Everywhere.”

At Waterville Valley, the Welcome Back to Winter Party is Nov. 25. Santa arrives by dogsled on Nov. 26 in Town Square followed by a tree lighting, and it’s also the date of the fourth annual Cold Turkey Plunge where participants throw themselves in frigid Corcoran Pond for charity.

Now that’s a frosty start to the season.