(Host) With the end of downhill ski season near, writer and commentator
Martha Molnar counts one of the chief blessings of Vermont ski resorts.
(Molnar) I love skiing in Vermont, and not just because I live here and can get to some mountains in well under an hour.
it’s certainly not the snow that makes Vermont skiing so special. The
snow is, sad to say, almost always superior in Colorado or Utah.
not the price of lift tickets either, although a midweek season pass is
reasonable compared to the hundred-dollar day passes at posh Western
Nope. What I find so wonderful at our ski areas are the
lodges. Whether it’s a concrete bunker reminiscent of Soviet
architecture, a ramshackle spread with stained carpeting, or an
architectural wonder is irrelevant. What matters is the fact that these
lodges exist at all.
In much of the West, lodges as we know them
have been replaced by swanky restaurants and bars, flanked by very cool
boutiques. And you can’t very well put on your boots and park your bag
with the extra glove liners and your lunch in an elegant restaurant.
may, after a very long search, uncover some basement room lined with
lockers. But most often, you end up using your car as the dressing room.
You open the doors and twisting and heaving, get your ski boots on. By
the time you put on all your other gear, your fingers are stiff while
the rest of you is overheated. You shuffle to the ticket kiosk wondering
if you have enough energy left to ski.
Here, all the
preparation takes place in a warm lodge, where you can also leave your
bag. Then, if it happens to be an especially blustery day, you can stop
at the lodge to warm up before going out again.
At lunchtime at
Killington or Pico, which are our usual haunts, we stop at any of the
six lodges, pull out our sandwiches and enjoy a free lunch. We could buy
lunch, or even be served lunch, but only if we choose to.
most Western ski areas, the only choice is among the attractive,
expensive restaurants, where pulling out a sandwich would draw stares
and worse. I shudder to think what it would have cost to feed our three
kids at these places – especially when they were teenagers!
let’s say you’re wearing too much or too little. You can trudge back to
the car. Or you can resign yourself to being cold or to sweating into
your wicking shirt, which efficiently moves the moisture out into your
Now, I do appreciate the higher mountains,
dramatic beauty, elegant amenities and fabulous powder of Western ski
resorts. I understand the economics at work here. But I have to admit
that I prefer the ski areas of Vermont and the rest of New England :
resorts that may offer just a bit less elegance but are generous with
their free, warm, practical spaces where we can sit, eat and talk
between runs down the mountain.