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In Search of Eastern Skiing: Sunday River

Photo: Vermont Bad BumpersIn Search of Eastern Skiing
January 24, 1995: Sunday River


We pick up the story in Bethel, Maine. Home of sprawling Sunday River. The date is January 24, 1995. The depth of the natural snow cover outside our bed and breakfast is about four inches.

You might note from my previous postings that I have a certain fondness for natural snow and old-timey ski hills. I admit to being a curmudgeon regarding ski area development and the "MacSki" phenomena often cited in the ski press. Guess I've been skiing too long -- "yep, sonny, I remember how it used to be."

These reactionary tastes were well satisfied by the previous day's visit to Wildcat, and the surprise powder day we experienced there.

Sunday River, of course, was a world apart. A universe apart.

But gosh darn it, they had snow, and lots of it. Entirely synthetic, mind you, but snow nonetheless. Best snow money could buy.

And thus, a moral dilemma: for years now, I've been decrying the unnatural texture of machine-made snow. Its tendency to rapidly compress and ice. The terrible and frightening noise of the snow cannons that spew into my face and then onto the ground. The things they do to it once it has landed -- things that give rise to those "Stop Evil grooming" bumper stickers. Give me gnarly crud, or give me death cookies.

Now here it is, the week after the thaw of the century. Vermont skiing is virtually wiped out. Nigh on every hill and valley we crossed to get here was practically sprouting daffodils. While at "Someday Bigger," the prize jewel of empire builder Les Otten's crown, we're eating up mile after mile of sumptuous Lazy River cruisers, with some steep Vortex bumps for dessert. And sucking up beers in architecturally delightful mid mountain lodges and riding one high speed quad after another like they were going out of style and....

Good Lord, have I sold my soul to the devil?

Burke can't find the cash to pay their property taxes. Mad River keeps on chugging along, but I have to wonder where they're chugging to -- their cooperative ownership deal is still in flux. Meanwhile, Preston Smith and Les Otten are cutting deals and cutting trails and building empires. Is it any wonder that Gary Kiedash wants Stowe to have a measly new lodge and a couple of extra lifts?

Well, I guess it's no wonder, but I'm still not sure its right. Guess I've been skiing too long, Stowe in particular. I like Mansfield just fine the way it is -- and the way it was, for that matter. Sure, Sunday River was fun, but who wants all that in their backyard?

Grump, grump, grump. Now, if I owned Stowe....


Copyright 1995.

Brought to you through the courtesy of Computing and Information Technology, University of Vermont. Copyright © 1995 . All rights reserved.
Wesley Alan Wright (email Wesley.Wright@uvm.edu) 7/25/95

Last modified August 31 1995 11:12 AM

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