Spring Skiing Tutorial

Skin to win on spring slopes

A few good reasons to keep your ski gear in reach

When my youngest son was in first grade his assignment over Spring Break was to come back with “signs of spring” gathered over break. I think the teacher was expecting a baggie of green shoots, or pictures of birds, or some bit of nature’s wonders. When most families head for the beach in spring we go west to the mountains, and more snow to extend our winter. We’re weird that way. So my son brought in the most relevant thing he could find before heading back to school—a picture from the cover of the Valley News, of a woman skiing in a bikini. I thought it was brilliant. The teacher was not impressed.

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Now, I feel like a teacher myself every spring, when I have to remind even devoted skiers to keep getting out there and enjoying the very best part of this sport. Ironically, when ski conditions are at their absolute best, people tend to check out. Lacrosse fields are plowed off, mud season is decried and ski gear gets shuttled down to the basement. And yet, as every ski area marketing department reminds us this time of year: “Ski Season isn’t over—it’s just warming up.” This is especially true at the end of a strong winter like the one we’ve just had.  If looking out your window at the snow on the ground isn’t motivation enough, here are a few more reasons to keep your skis at the ready in the garage and your boots in the mudroom.

It’s Cheap and It's Good:
Remember paying for a full-price day ticket in December and freezing your butt off for the opportunity to ski on a layer of sugar over concrete? Yeah, that was fun. This time of year, spring skiing specials abound, the conditions are humane to both yourself and your equipment. Plus, with all runs open there is plenty of space to let the rope out and get wind in your face on a wide-open slope. Check out various areas for spring specials and passes. And if you’ve already got a pass…don’t get me started. This is all gravy, people. A day of fun will cost you a mini-mart breakfast sandwich and a tank of gas, if that.

You’re at the top of your game:
There’s a reason that top ski racers test equipment for the next year in the spring, and it’s not because they want to brag about logging more days on snow. The end of the ski season is when their skills are sharp, their balance is dialed in, their gear is set up just right and their muscle memory is fresh. You’ve spent the season figuring this sport and your gear out—now, is the fun part!

See the Best in Action:
The east is where it’s at for Alpine racing this spring. The best junior skiers in the country are battling it out in FIS competitions at Stowe, Sugarbush, Killington and Stratton. From there, the top skiers in the country gather for the US Nationals (March 22-26) and Jr Nationals (March 27-29) in Waterville Valley. The competition continues right through the Eastern Cup Finals at Burke April 2-6. Sprinkled throughout those high level races are lower key, fan-friendly traditional events that celebrate spring. These include: tailgating on “The Beach” at the Chip Gilroy T Shirt Race duals at Sunapee March 23; the community celebration scene of the “Thank God for Snowmaking” race at Cochran’s March 31; and the Grand-Daddy of them all, sugar on snow and racing for all ages at Stowe’s Sugar Slalom April 6-7. These races put fun and camaraderie first, and showcase the best of the sport in every way.

Tutus and friends are in style at the T-shirt Race and the Sugar Slalom

Amateur Hour Goes Outdoor:
If dressing up and doing goofy stuff is your jive, ski areas in springtime are your happy place. Be it pond-skimming, snowbox derby racing, dressing up like a leprechaun, snowshoeing under the moon or sporting your best 80’s gear, find all the events to scratch your itch in New Hampshire and Vermont.

Apres Ski Gets Better (if that’s possible):
Whether you wrap up your day at Burke’s Bear Den, Killington’s Wobbly Barn, Grizzly’s at Stratton, Stowe’s Matterhorn, Sugarbush’s Wunder Bar, or around the back of a pick-up in any ski area parking lot, good drinks good snacks and good company somehow feel richer in the long days of spring. Bonus points for gathering your favorite peeps on a sundeck or on a pile of sun-warmed rocks.  

It Beats Cleaning the House:
Admit it. Spring cleaning, while satisfying when it’s done, isn’t as much fun as spending one more weekend in the mountains. There will be plenty of time to do all that swiffing and scrubbing when the snow has melted. For now, do your soul a favor and channel John Muir’s affirmation: “The mountains are calling and I must go.”

The parking lot at Sunapee's "Beach"


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