You have to love the excitement of winter.
The first snow of the season hit this past weekend, and the crazies were out in force. Killington opened for the season on Monday and Tuesday with skiing on a few regular runs. At Sugarbush Resort, where snowmaking is putting down a nice layer on the upper half of the mountains, locals were hiking up after hours, we’re told, and catching a few first runs via headlamps. Ditto at Mad River Glen, but au naturel — that is, no snowmaking, just shushing through the snow-covered grass.
No doubt it’s the same at every mountain from Jay Peak to Stratton and south. Let the hollering begin, winter sports are here.
That doesn’t mean we won’t still be running, mountain biking, climbing and kiting, just that we’ll wear different clothes, use different gear and employ different techniques. That’s sport.
In Vermont, it means we move into the mountains with alpine, Nordic and backcountry skis; we still climb, but do it when the ice forms in Smuggler’s Notch or the east face of Mount Hor at the edge of Lake Willoughby. We’ll still kitesurf, but rather than with a board skimming the water we’ll put on our skis and race over the ice. We bike, but we stick to the mountain bike trails or go with fat tires on snow, or trade out the tires for skis on a bike frame and ski-bike. We walk mountain trails, but we trade our boots for snowshoes and bring an extra layer for the winds on top of Camel’s Hump, Mount Abe, Hunger Mountain, Mount Equinox or wherever we happen to be.
In Vermont, it’s whatever works, presents a challenge and brings a smile — an apt motto for this state in winter.
But honestly, we’re in a momentary lull. We’re a few weeks away from full-on winter and unlimited skiing, and the transition from those glorious days of summer and fall are just a few days past — leaving us a couple weeks to get ready and psyched for the new sports to come.
In short, it’s time to train. We have to get those quads in shape for skiing the bumps and absorbing the drops at Mad River Glen or Sugarbush’s Castlerock area, or the bumps at Killington’s Outer Limits. We have to stretch our hamstrings and expand our lungs for the rigors of Nordic races and the thrill of the chase. We have to strengthen our ankles for pond hockey, league play or long skate gliding over long distances.
To help, we focus on a Winter-to-do list: tune those boards, strengthen those quads, and get psyched to take your sport to the next level. The first two are self-explanatory, but helpful — basic skills and exercises that put us in a place to pursue our sports to the fullest.
Ratcheting it up a notch to improve our skiing or riding to the next level, however, offers an interesting perspective by extreme skier and Sugarbush Resort Chief Recreation Officer John Egan about overcoming fears before we can successfully take a leap forward. Combine that with his application of the laws of physics to skiing and riding, and new horizons seem possible for those seeking to go from just being a good skier to being far better.
Two other stories present tales on the screen. We focus on a new documentary film shot by a couple New Englanders that capture the tale of the Vermont 100 — a grueling 100-mile run through the mountains of central Vermont. The star, Zak Wieluns, attempts the race for the third time, hoping to finish. That journey is captured on film by his two friends, and is making the film festival rounds this winter.
Warren Miller’s 65th annual ski flick, No Turning Back, is also making the rounds throughout the Northeast this early winter and premiering in Middlebury and Burlington in early December. Our roving reporter Evan Johnson got a sneak peak of the movie and writes a preview.
Another feature highlights the story of two Vermonters in their early 20s who are on a cross-country bike tour, working for food and money along the way. They’re 1,000 miles along their journey with another 2,600 miles to go along their circuitous route. Check it out on pages 12-13.
Dozens of events are listed in the calendar, John Morton takes the bozos in the NFL to task, and we offer a few “parting shots” of hiking amidst the fall foliage as a sign-off to summer and fall sports — just as we also urge you to seize the moment this winter and get outside to enjoy.