Wind: 0 mph
By Kara Herlihy
Opening day at any ski area is celebration of many things. Usually, when it happens in November, it is a celebration of thin cover, long lines, and the familiar agony of shoving cold feet into boots that, at the time, feel like they were fitted for tiny elves.
Hurting feet aside, opening day at Sugarbush this past Saturday, November 17, was anything but agonizing. It was a celebration of the winter that seems to have arrived overnight, and proof that Sugarbush takes their snowmaking very seriously.
While system kinks are always expected for any resort's opening, Sugarbush was not only prepared for the pandemonium in the season pass office, but employees seemed to laugh their way through the chaos.
The pass line made for an estimated 25-minute wait as the Bravo chair started turning at 9 a.m. Sugarbush employees waded through the line reminding previous season pass holders that if they were already in the system, they wouldn't have to get a new pass, as the Sugarbush website had reported.
Day passes were issued to those who were already in the system, which made for a thinned line and a slew of giddy skiers and riders. While Sugarbush will require "new media" for all season pass holders, they didn't have to deal with it on opening day-awesome.
Lift attendants loading the Bravo chair offered toothy grins and well wishes; there wasn't a lift line to speak of, and it was snowing. It was classic Vermont skiing -- cold, blustering wind and that irksome feeling that the snow guns had been strategically placed so that everyone got blasted in the face at least twice.
The good news is, even despite the lack of top to bottom skiing, the snow was fierce. The top looked and felt like January, and the trails were remarkably uncluttered. The sound of sharp skis on ice was heard only rarely, and nobody was in any kind of hurry -- except for one particular six-year-old cruising down Jester in a mean tuck.
Organs were fit for grinding, and the bumps are coming together quite nicely. The ski patrollers were out in full force and significantly outnumbered the skiers and riders.
It stopped snowing mid-morning and the download on Bravo was surprisingly pleasant thanks to some sunshine and a stellar view of The Valley.
Sugarbush has been making snow since October 29 and expects to have top to bottom skiing for Thanksgiving weekend.