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Friday, March 23 Sports

Be prepared for a snowy, cold holiday week at ski resorts

Heading to the mountains this holiday week for some skiing and snowboarding?

The forecast is snowy and cold, very cold, especially at northern ski resorts.

Up to a foot of snow is forecast this weekend in northwestern New York and New England. And a nor’easter, that could develop on Christmas Eve, may deliver more snow.

Most of the major ski resorts in northern New England and New York have more than half their trails open this holiday week. And, the amount of terrain could increase dramatically if a major storm takes the right track.

The only drawback after these big storms are strong winds that often blow back as the system moves up toward the Canadian Maritimes.

Winds can be so strong that upper mountain lifts are shut down.

That - and very cold temperatures - are the only weather worries this week at northern resorts.

Polar air will drop next week’s daytime temperatures into the teens and single numbers. That combined with the wind will make for a very cold Christmas/New Year week.

Expect the lines to be longer for the warmer rides to the summit like the gondolas at Stowe, Stratton and Killington and the “bubble chairs” (with heated seats) at Mount Snow and Okemo in Vermont.

With conditions this extreme, it’s important to be prepared with having the right clothing and gear.

Before I leave for a ski area, I do a a mental feet-to head-checklist to make sure I have everything; boots, socks, long underwear, ski pants, shirt, fleece, jacket, helmet, goggles, etc. I’ve found keeping all this stuff in a large bag works best because it’s all in one place.

Being prepared also means knowing what the weather will be like at the ski resort the days you’ll be there.

No, you don’t want TV’s local forecast. You need the forecast for the mountains that will tell you if the summit will be covered in clouds, wind speed, temperature and wind chill.

The best source for New York and Vermont mountains is the Mountain Point, click HERE. This National Weather Service site gives hourly, two day forecasts for precipitation, expected snowfall numbers and sky cover.

The Winter Forecast page (here) has maps and snowfall estimates for northwest Connecticut, the Berkshires/Taconics in Massachusetts/New York and half of Vermont.

For the high summits forecast for New Hampshire, check out the Mount Washington Observatory site HERE.

Being prepared also means knowing the layout of a ski area.

If you’re not familiar with an area, study the trail map. Know the lifts and where the trails you want to ski and ride on are located.

Knowing your way around the mountain is especially important if key lifts are shut down because of wind.

Check the trail and lift report in the morning for any updates including delayed opening of lifts or any on wind hold.

Remember, if you don’t like the conditions many (not all) ski resorts will give you a voucher for another day within one hour of purchasing a ticket.

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To beat the crowds, try to get an early start. I know, it can be difficult to get the whole family on the mountain early, but the reward is quality runs.

Some areas have their lifts turning as early as 8 a.m. Starting early you can make some first tracks in powder or on perfectly groomed trails. Generally, lift lines don’t get long until around 10 a.m.

And be sure to take an early or later lunch to avoid the noontime crowds and lines in the lodge.

Above all, go with the flow.

Adopt the European approach to skiing and as the French say, joie de vivre, the joy of life.

Instead of trying to make 20 runs a day, enjoy the moment, have a leisurely lunch, maybe with a beer or glass of wine.

Relish the good times with family and friends, sharing the passion sliding down a mountain and enjoying the view, and company.

Take the kids to the pool, your significant other out to dinner. Relax by a fire. Love.

Joie de vivre!