Each morning, I feel blessed to look out at the Sugarbush ridge line from my bedroom below. After doing so this past Tuesday, Groundhog Day, I headed up for my 50th day of lift served skiing this winter. What a nice morning it was with a fresh 5” of soft powder. As much as I love skiing, I am constantly reminded that it is not just the great terrain at Sugarbush that makes being here special; it is also the community that we are fortunate to have. All great communities have shared values, and while they grow and evolve over time, they maintain their ethos. In my opinion that has certainly been true of the Mad River Valley and Sugarbush.
Like so many of you a friend introduced me to skiing here, first at Mad River Glen and then Sugarbush. I remember walking into the Warren Store for the first time in the winter of 1969/70 and having a woolen blanket tossed on my lap as I loaded the single chair at MRG. I skied very poorly down Paradise and then ended the day with a burger and a few beers.
All of us have memories and stories, and it is stories that keep communities alive and allow their unique values to be passed along to the next generations. While we have certainly changed from the first days in 1958, we have also maintained a culture and spirit of adventure and camaraderie that was started by Damon and Sarah Gadd. Even in this COVID-19 season with its limitation on indoor gatherings and quarantines, I feel the same vibe when I am on the trails. A morning pause at the top of Snowball to overlook the valley before cruising down Snowball and Spring Fling for the first run of the day never gets old. And I usually recall the story about the private plane that landed there one morning due to a bet at the Bluetooth the night before.
When Stein’s Run has been freshly groomed and covered with a few inches of new powder, it is my favorite trail, and I always reflect on how special it must have been to have watched Stein Erickson do his Sunday flip after a run down his namesake trail. Dinner at Chez Henri also brings back memories of the pole climb by the likes of Jean-Claude Killey and the wild parties in the back room.
In the future our children and grandchildren will reflect on their own memories and special moments and hopefully also remember the stories from an earlier time. It is important to pass these stories along. So this winter when we are not able to share the same après as in year’s past, continue to share stories in your own safe bubble and create more memories this winter.
When this season began, I was worried about how a COVID season would progress. Then we had an abnormally warm and dry fall and one of the latest openings ever. Snow through December was far below normal. I worried that there might not be a lot of great memories this winter. But then we had one of the best January’s I can recall. No rain, no thaw, and plenty of snow starting MLK weekend. Now the forecast for the next couple of weeks in looking good, and I am really excited for my next 50 days on the slopes, entering my favorite months of the season, and creating more memories and stories to pass along.