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Warren Miller ski movies, 6 Decades

Did you grow up on Warren Miller ski movies like me? It started with my parents telling me how Warren Miller would come to their New Hampshire ski club meetings in the fall, with his projector to show his latest ski film. It was a great fundraiser, a fun party and the traditional kick off to the ski season. My mom would tell us she felt badly laughing at Warren Miller’s chairlift crash clips – “but they are just so funny, watching skiers pile up as they slide in to each other off the lift ramp.”

Flash forward – Warren Miller no longer narrates his ski movies, in fact he sold Warren Miller Entertainment in 2004, now the narration is Olympic skier Jonny Moseley – but the legend continues with annual ski movies filmed in remote beautiful ski locations starring the best skiers in the biz, funny narration and phenomenal footage. From Alaska to Kazakhstan, Zermatt Switzerland to the steeps of Big Sky Montana, Warren Miller’s ski movies celebrate 67 years in 2016, and this year’s ski film to debut at ski parties everywhere in November is titled Here There and Everywhere, following the previous year’s Chasing Shadows, and 2014’s  “No Turning Back”,.

Here is a list of the annual Warren Miller ski movies from 1950 when it was just Warren, his rucksack and his 9mm camera, to today spanning ski celebs from Suzy Chafee and Greg Stump, Phil & Steve Maher, Dan and John Egan to Olympians Bode Miller, David Wise, Lindsey Vonn, Julia Mancuso, Ted Ligety, Sarah Burke, Daron Rahlves, Jonny Moseley, snowboarders Seth Wescott, Gretchen Bleiler, and free skiers Chris Davenport, Chris Anthony, Seth Morrrison, Peter Olenick, Pep Fujas, Doug Coombs, Glen Plake, Scot Schmidt, the list goes on…and so does the tradition of Warren Miller…an inspiration for more ski film start ups Meathead, Teton Gravity Research, Sweetgrass and Matchstick Production…

1. 1950 Deep And Light
2. 1951 California Skis
3. 1952 Wandering Skis
4. 1953 Ski Fantasy
5. 1954 Symphony On Skis
6. 1955 Invitation To Skiing
7. 1956 Have Skis, Will Travel
8. 1957 Anyone For Skiing?
9. 1958 Are Your Skis On Straight?
10. 1959 Let’s Go Skiing
11. 1960 Swinging Skis
12. 1961 Many Moods Of Skiing
13. 1962 Around The World On Skis
14. 1963 The Sound Of Skiing
15. 1964 The Skiers
16. 1965 The Big Ski Show
17. 1966 Ski On The Wild Side
18. 1967 The Ski Scene
19. 1968 No Boundaries
20. 1969 This Is Skiing
21. 1970 Sound Of Winter
22. 1971 Any Snow, Any Mountain
23. 1972 Winter People
24. 1973 Skiing’s Great
25. 1974 The Color Of Skiing
26. 1975 There Comes A Time
27. 1976 Skiing On My Mind
28. 1977 In Search Of Skiing
29. 1978 Ski A La Carte
30. 1979 Winter Fever
31. 1980 Ski People
32. 1981 Ski In The Sun
33. 1982 Snowonder
34. 1983 Ski Time
35. 1984 Ski Country
36. 1985 Steep And Deep
37. 1986 Beyond The Edge
38. 1987 White Winter Heat
39. 1988 Escape To Ski
40. 1989 White Magic
41. 1990 Extreme Winter
42. 1991 Born To Ski
43. 1992 Steeper And Deeper
44. 1993 Black Diamond Rush
45. 1994 Vertical Reality
46. 1995 Endless Winter
47. 1996 Snowriders
48. 1997 Snowriders 2
49. 1998 Freeriders
50. 1999 Fifty
51.2000 Ride
52. 2001 Cold Fusion
53. 2002 Storm
54. 2003 Journey
55. 2004 Impact
56. 2005 Higher Ground
57. 2006 Off The Grid
58. 2007 Playground
59. 2008 Children Of Winter
60. 2009 Dynasty
61. 2010 Wintervention
62. 2011 Like There’s No Tomorrow
63. 2012 Flow State
64. 2013 Ticket to Ride
65. 2014 No Turning Back
66. 2015 Chasing Shadows
67. 2016 Here, There and Everywhere

Warren Miller Entertainment is currently owned by the Bonnier Corporation who also publish Boating, Sailing, Yachting, Field and Stream, Flying, Cycling, Waterski and Wakeboarding magazines.

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Heather Burke, 2016 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

Ski Resort Opening Dates

6kitzbuhel-hrb-markus-pow2Ski resorts are opening across the North East and out West faster than you can say #Winteriscoming. The West has already gotten a few big snow storms. Meanwhile New England finally has cold weather to blow snow after a very mild start to November and October for that matter. Now what really  matters to skiers: opening dates at your favorite ski places:

Killington opend first in the East October 23, a week after Arapahoe Basin Colorado. A Basin was the first ski resort open in the country. Bretton Woods was next to open in the east.

Stowe, Sugarbush, Sunday River, and Loon Mountain Resort open Wednesday, November, 23. These are perennial big snow makers and often first ski resorts in the east to open.

2-ski-timberline2Sugarloaf opens Thanksgiving Thursday, November 24.

Cranmore Mountain, Cannon, Waterville Valley and Mount Sunapee Resort plan to open Black Friday, November 25 – so we’ll call that White Friday in ski country.

Gunstock Mountain Resort opens Friday, December 2, Burke in Vermont and Black Mountain in NH open Saturday, December 3

Ragged Mountain Resort, Wildcat and Attitash are aiming for early December.

big-sky-heather-moonlightOut West, Mammoth is open in California. In Colorado,  Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper Purgatory and Loveland are open, as well as Arapahoe Basin

In Canada, Lake Louise and Sunshine in beautiful Banff are open.

In Europe, Solden, Hintertux and Stubaier Glaciers in Austria are open. In Switzerland, Gstaad, Zermatt, and Saas Fe are open. Val Thorens and Tignes in France are open for skiing.

Get out there and enjoy the early season skiing!

Winter is coming ski friends…see you on the slopes soon!

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Heather Burke, 2016 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips & Luxury Ski Trips,

Photos by Greg Burke

CNL, EPR, Vail Resorts- Who owns what ski resorts?

1sunrise-express-baseAre you ready for the latest in mountain mergers and alpine acquisitions? EPR Properties of Kansas City is buying up 15 ski resorts from CNL Lifestyle Properties. This shouldn’t affect your ski winter – but its wild news with wicked big numbers.

The total ski package is $830 million in a complicate formula of stock, cash and holdings and assets.

Because of the long-term lease agreements between CNL and each of the 14 resorts, no operational or season passholder big-sky-moonlightchanges are expected from the sale to EPR, which is expected to close in the spring of 2017 according to Ski Area Management, SAM Magazine.
Karl Kapuscinski, president and CEO of Mountain High and Stevens Pass, said even though the lease for the properties is changing hands, it’s business as usual. “It’s similar to a home mortgage being sold to another bank. Nothing really changes except who you write the check to.”

The EPN/CNL ski resort sale includes

2-ski-timberline2Brighton Ski Resort, Utah (Boyne Resorts)
Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Colo. (Triple Peaks)
Cypress Mountain, B.C., Canada (Boyne Resorts)
Gatlinburg Sky Lift, Tenn. (Boyne Resorts)
Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort, Mass. (Fairbank Group)
Loon Mountain Resort, N.H. (Boyne Resorts)
Northstar, Tahoe CA, managed by Vail Resorts
Mount Sunapee Mountain Resort, N.H. (Triple Peaks)
Mountain High Resort, Calif. (Mountain High Holdings LLC)
Okemo Mountain Resort, Vt. (Triple Peaks)
Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort, Calif. (Booth Creek)
Stevens Pass, Wash. (Stevens Pass Mountain Resort LLC)
Sugarloaf Mountain Resort, Maine (Boyne Resorts)
Summit-at-Snoqualmie Resort, Wash. (Boyne Resorts)
Sunday River Resort, Maine (Boyne Resorts)

big-sky-ianMeanwhile Vail Resorts now owns or at least operates 13 ski resorts, and half of the 10 busiest ski areas on the continent, the top three being Whistler Blackcomb, Vail, and Breckenridge.

Vail, Colorado
Beaver Creek, Colorado
Breckenridge, Colorado
Keystone, Colorado
Park City (and Canyons) in Utah
Heavenly, Lake Tahoe, California
Northstar (management contract only, purchased by EPR)
Kirkwood, Lake Tahoe, California
Whistler Blackcomb, BC Canada
Perisher, Australia
Wilmot Mountain, Wisconsin
Afton Alps, Minnesota
vail-heather-simbaMt. Brighton, Michigan

Vail Resorts also holds the RockResorts brand, with luxury ski lodging properties including The Lodge at Vail, The Arrabelle at Vail Square, The Pines Lodge and The Osprey at Beaver Creek , One Ski Hill Place at Breckenridge, and the Grand Teton Lodge Company in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Winter is coming ski friends…see you on the slopes soon!

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Heather Burke, 2016 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips & Luxury Ski Trips,

Photos by Greg Burke

Vail owns 13 Ski Resorts! Epic!

vail-heather-simbaVail Resorts is quite the mountain monopoly now. How many ski resorts can one company own? ! Apparently a baker’s dozen of  dreamy downhill destinations! The latest, Vail has purchased Canada’s biggest – Whistler Blackcomb for $1 billion.  Vail now manages 13 ski resorts, the original Vail (since 1962), plus Beaver Creek – one of my personal faves, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado; Park City (and Canyons) in Utah, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in Lake Tahoe California, Whistler Blackcomb in BC Canada; Perisher in Australia; Wilmot Mountain in Wisconsin; Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mt. Brighton in Michigan. Vail now has the lion’s share of skier visit too, with 50% of the 10 busiest ski areas on the continent, among the top 3  are Whistler, Vail, and Breckenridge.

1telluride-skier-hrbSo Vail’s Epic Pass just became even more Epic for 2016-17. Enjoy skiing at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Wilmot, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton, and Arapahoe Basin, Perisher Australia, Wilmot, Afton Alps and Mt. Brighton, plus 5 days at Whistler. Next ski season, winter 2017-18, Whistler Blackcomb pass benefits will be in full force.

Add to that the impressive ski resort collection the luxury lodging brand Vail Resorts owns – RockResorts, with posh ski lodging properties including the authentic first lodging in Vail village-  Lodge at Vail, The Arrabelle at Vail Square, The Pines Lodge and The Osprey at Beaver Creek, One Ski Hill Place at jester-sugarbush-heatherBreckenridge, and the Grand Teton Lodge Company in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

I think Vail Resorts needs an East Coast ski resort or two to round out the portfolio. Perhaps Vail could buy Saddleback in Maine, its only $12 mill versus the Park City acquisition at $182 mill, and Whistler at $1.1 bill.  ? Wouldn’t a RockResort in the Rangeley Lakes region be grand all four seasons? And Vail could reopen Ascutney in Vermont perhaps?

Meanwhile, I’ve got my Epic Pass and I’m not afraid to use it! Lake Tahoe, Park City, Colorado’s Summit County and Whistler – I’m coming for ya!

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Heather Burke, 2016 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips & Luxury Ski Trips,

Photos by Greg Burke

New ski lift for Sunday River

sunday-river-chondolaAs you may have seen on facebook,  or if you hiked American Express this summer, Sunday River’s Spruce Peak triple had a mishap. The top terminal of Spruce Peak Triple “took a tumble” July 10, 2016. Can you say Risky Business? Spruce chairlift’s bullwheel detached from the ground, Sunday River management immediately reported it to the State of Maine Tramway Safety Board. Being summer, the lift was not operating.

obsession-2ski (3)Well, the squeaky wheel, a 1986 Borvig triple, gets more than grease this time – Spruce Peak will get a new Doppelmayr fixed-grip triple chairlift with a conveyor loading system, carrying skiers and snowboarders two minutes faster, but not until 2017-18 winter.

risky-business1Since the Doppelmayr ski lift guys are still designing the lift (break out  Boyne’s American Express), it won’t be ready for ski season 2016-17. You can access Spruce Peak’s trails from Aurora’s Quad to Borealis and a short hike or herringbone (do you know how to do that on skis?) up Sirius to get to the cord on American Express, Risky Business, and Downdraft. In fact those classic ski trails will likely stay corduroy longer since most folks flake at the word “hike.” Earn your turns at Spruce Peak this season.

Also getting a lift at the River is the Locke Mountain Triple, just a new top terminal – call it insurance since its similar vintage and design to the Spruce lift that toppled. In the event Locke’s facelift is also not ready for opening day at Sunday River, typically around Halloween, Sunday River says “we’ll make snow on Aurora Peak to be accessed by the Chondola.”

spruce-risky2Don’t wax too sentimental about the old Spruce Peak Triple, the new one will be just as scenic, just 120 seconds swifter to your sweet skiing. But do wax your skis, #winteriscoming.

Other new ski lifts around the country include:

big-sky-moonlightBig Sky Resort in Montana replaces the Challenger Double with a new Doppelmayr triple chair.
Big Sky’s Lone Peak triple will upgrade to a new Doppelmayr Bowl6 – six passenger bubble covered high-speed lift. #Sweet
Grand Targhee Wyoming replaces the 1974 Blackfoot double chairlift  with a new fixed-grip quad.
Vail’s Back Bowls Sun Up  fixed-grip triple will become a new high-speed quad.
1sunrise-express-baseMt Bachelor Oregon adds the Cloudchaser – a high speed quad on the eastern most terrain, opening up 635 acres at Sunrise and the catchline from the summit.
Purgatory at Durango in Colorado gets a surface lift along the valley floor between lower Bull Run and the bottom of the Legends (Lift 8) high-speed quad.
8jackson-hole-view-frcasperArizona Snowbowl, sister to Purgatory, gets its first six-pack chairlift.

Next season, Jackson Hole adds a Sweetwater Gondola between the Bridger Gondola and Teewinot high-speed quad.

By Heather Burke, photos by Greg Burke

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Heather Burke, 2016 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips & Luxury Ski Trips

 

Where to ski this summer?

1aspen-highlands-bowlWhile most of us skiers have launched boats, turned to paddleboarding, kayaks and bikes, even golf clubs, there are those bold ski souls who #neversummer and want to ski all the time, every season. Here are the latest ski conditions aroudn teh glove from our friends at SAM, Ski Area management:

Two resorts are open in North America : Timberline, Ore., and Whistler Blackcomb, B.C., Canada. The open terrain on Whistler’s glacier is primarily for training, but it does have a small open-to-the-public park. Timberline is currently spinning three lifts to access a park and a pipe. Mammoth Mountain in California wrapped up its season on July 4.

off-piste-tracksFor summer skiing in Europe,  several glacier-skiing resorts are operating with respectable snowpack. Austria has three resorts open, including year-round Hintertux, which has the deepest snow in the alps with a base of just over 92 inches and is reporting “old snow” as the surface. U.S. national team members have been training there recently. Dachstein and Kitzteinhorn glaciers are also open with similar conditions.

France’s three glacier ski areas are reporting the best July snow conditions in years, with base depths measuring about six feet—roughly four times what they were last year at this time. Les 2 Alpes and Tignes plan to be open through most of August. Val d’Isere was the first area to open, but will likely be the first to close with reports calling for July 10 to be the final day.

2marmolada-glacier-ski-offPasso Stelvio in Italy is reporting “gripping” snow accessed by all six of its lifts. Cervinia in Italy re-opened at the end of June after a steady dose of fresh snow. It’s reporting a base depth of more than six feet on 12 miles of trails. It’s possible to enjoy cross-boarder skiing from Cervinia to Zermatt in Switzerland, Zermatt as only ski area open in Switzerland isis reporting excellent July conditions.

Norway’s three glacier ski areas have no shortage of snow, with base depths measuring as much as 23 feet. Despite having plenty of white stuff to enjoy, Stryn plans to close July 19, but Folgefonn and Galdhoppigen should stay open into August.

tracksFresh snow in Australia after a slow start to the season fell on the Ausie mountains end of June, allowing every resort to open for the season, with more snow at Thredbo in July. The forecast is calling for cool temps and at least a chance of snow at higher elevations every day through the weekend, so look for more terrain to open as snowmaking continues.

3skiers-powder-sun2It’s the opposite story in New Zealand, however. After a great start,  warm fronts have melted snow cover and hindered snowmaking efforts, only a few resorts are open. The Remarkables, Cardrona, and Mt. Hutt are the only three resorts open for skiing  on a fraction of their terrain. Coronet Peak is spinning a lift for scenic rides.

The story is similar in Argentina where early snowfall allowed some resorts to open earlier than expected, followed by a drought, according to reports, and only Las Lenas and Catedral are open. Las Lenas has a max base depth of 47 inches on 10 trails, and Catedral is reporting a max depth of 3 inches on six trails served by just six of the resort’s 36 lifts.

1ski-wildcatResorts in Chile got  about 10 feet of snow in early,t more than half of the nation’s ski resorts are open including Valle Nevado and La Parva, each sporting base depths of nearly 60 inches. South Africa’s Tiffendell’s slopes and all but Afriski’s slopes are open for skiing and riding.

It’s still early winter south of the equator, and forecasts are calling for things to cool down over an extended period of time across many of the mountainous areas throughout the Southern Hemisphere.

HB_waterski09To quote John Snow, #winteriscoming so enjoy the summer, or go find snow at these ski resorts! Me, I am enjoying SUP Paddleboarding, water skiing and boating till November. See you out on the h20.

By Heather Burke, photos by Greg Burke

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Heather Burke, 2016 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips & Luxury Ski Trips

Still skiing? The 2% – Skiers!

Its Memorial Day weekend, sign of summer, after one of the most mercurial winters Family Ski Tripson record – El Niño, or as we called it “El Weirdo.”

The East was warm with astonishingly low snow, less than 5 feet of natural snow at Sunday River… meanwhile the West got nuked, 33 feet at Grand Targhee, 38′ at Snowbird in Utah!

blizzard-heatherOverall, skier visits were up 8% in the Rockies. The Pacific Northwest recorded a 142% increase, easily doubling from 2 mill in 2014-15 to 4.8 mill visits in 2015-16 according to NSAA – the National Ski Areas Association.

sunday-river-chondolaThe Northeast, New England particularly, was down 28% this winter (can we call it a winter?!) reflecting one of the four worst ski seasons in the past four decades. Sunday River, who opened on Oct 19, kept skiing til May 2, but only received 60 inches of natural snow, their usual snowfall total is 167 (can you say snow making magic?).

1telluride-skier-hrbOverall skier visits in the US for 2015-16 were 53.9 million, the West soared  and saved the East meltdown. As for the bottom line, Western resort occupancy was up 4.4 percent,revenues up 5.2 percent compared to last season, with Colorado as the leader of the pack, even though the strong US $ deterred Canadians and foreigners.

In layman’s terms, about 7 million people in the US ski,  they account for our 53 million “skier visits” by going about 7 times a season. Some folks, like me, big-sky-ianski 50 days, ski instructors, patrollers and ski bums eclipse 100, but slobs with real jobs ski only 2 to 5 times a winter, so its an alipne average . With the US population at 322,762,018 (2016 US Census specifics) that means skiers are the 2%!

Enough elitist ski math, alpine analysis and El Niño climatology… let’s talk about who is still open for skiing in May 2016?

In the East, the last beast spinning is Killington Resort which reopens Memorial weekend much like last year! Out west the usual late spring ski resorts are still standing: Arapahoe Basin Ski Area and Aspen’s Ajax  in Colorado,  Mammoth, Mt Bachelor, Timberline & Whistler Blackcomb! Mammoth still has 130’ of base in late May, more snow than heather-aspen-supthe East saw all season. Hintertux Glacier in Austria too!

Me, I’ve stored my skis for next October, sharpened, waxed all set to go come snow…but I’m switching gears to SUP, boating and water skiing. See you out on the h20.

By Heather Burke, photos by Greg Burke

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Heather Burke, 2016 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips & Luxury Ski Trips

John Christie – Maine Ski Legend – His Legacy Lives

John Christie, Jamie Walter photo

John Christie, Jamie Walter photo

I couldn’t have imagined a better ski writer to assume my beloved newspaper column for the Maine Sunday Telegram than John Christie. As flattered as I had been in 2010 that Christie, and his son Josh, were chosen as my successors for the ski column I had written for 11 years, I was equally saddened to learn of John’s passing on May 7, 2016.

I was proud the day he and Josh took over “my ski column” at the Press Herald. I joked with John that it took two to fill my ski boots – but I was impressed with their work, and loved that a father son team shared the column , carrying on beautifully, with engaging, eloquent and just plain fun content. I had been hired at Boston.com as the ski guru, but I circled back to check on “my baby” weekly. John and Josh shared, possibly eclipsed, my passion for skiing, writing, and the ski biz.

John Christie was always a generous enthusiastic promoter of the sport – and a super nice guy! His son Josh is so-damn-outdoorsy and also a brilliant writer (of books! about beer! and skiing! #cool). How heartwarming that Josh can carry on his Dad’s legacy and continue to create and share stories about their family’s favorite sport.

As for my memories: every time I met John Christie, his smile warmed my heart, especially on those cold windy ski days at the Loaf. His laugh cut through any frostbite, his optimism and first-hand stories could outlast any fixed-grip chairlift ride.

6sugarloaf-summitJohn had mad people skills, amazing retention of every player’s name and their influence (the good, the bad and the not-fit-to-print) in the ski biz, myself included – he not only remembered me but made me feel like a ski rock star, calling me the “First Lady of Maine Skiing” – I told you he was funny. He was an incredible storyteller. His words came from the heart, honest and humorous, but peppered with factoids.

John Christie was a skiing walking Wikipedia of New England ski timelines, the take overs, the tumult, the triumphs, the comings and goings and gondolas, all the crazy ups and downs in snow sports, from his experiences at Camden Snow Bowl, Mount Snow, Saddleback, and Sugarloaf. Did I mention he was a pretty fine skier? Fast too. #SkiYourAge

The sad news, John Christie died suddenly at 79, he was working Saturday morning at the entrance gate of Camden Hills State Park. He was doing what he loved, welcoming people to engage in Maine’s great outdoors. I can picture the last people he greeted with his boundless energy, and how he brightened their day during that brief encounter.

ski_museum_maine (3)The truly positive news though, John Christie will be remembered and revered through his written word, he wrote “The Story of Sugarloaf,” which won the 2008 Skade Award from the International Skiing History Association ( a must read for every Sugarloafer). He’s left a legacy,  as president of the Vermont Ski Areas Association, the Sugarloaf Ski Club, as director of the National Ski Areas Association, as a founder of the Maine Ski Museum and the Maine Ski Hall of Fame – where he was inducted in 2006. A celebration of John’s life will be held at Sugarloaf Resort Saturday June 18 at 4pm.

John 2-ski-timberline2Christie’s name will remain forever “google-able” in the ski biz, and he was schussing the world long before the world wide web. He will have a sparkly snowy space  forever in our fondest ski thoughts. My first tracks next ski season down Sugarloaf’s Timberline to Tote, or Saddleback’s Mule Skinner, will be dedicated to John Christie.

By Heather Burke, photos by Greg Burke

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Heather Burke, 2016 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips & Luxury Ski Trips

How was your ski season?

big-sky-moonlightHow was your ski season? Did you ski your age in # days? That’s always a goal of mine, it’s exponentially more challenging each winter. I like to envision my 80 ski days when I am retired at 80, and (hopefully) still fit and carving fabulously. Klaus Obermeyer, Aspen-based famous ski clothes designer from Germany, had the goal of skiing as fast as his age, he’s now 95. I think my approach is safer but you go Klaus!

big-sky-heather-moonlightAs an East Coaster, I could be completely disappointed with this season. Let’s see – it rained Christmas, was 60 degrees New Years, with
abysmally low snow totals all season long. Mad River Glen was only open 45 days. New England ski resorts struggled, many didn’t make it to Easter weekend which was super early – still March. A few kept making snow into April, Sunday River and Killington, way over snow budget. Sunday River, Sugarloaf and Sugarbush made it to May Day, Killington keeps spinning.

Back in December when I saw the El Nino
6kitzbuhel-hrb-markus-pow2weather writing on the wall, I hashtagged this winter #GoToTheSnow. And that’s what I did. I skied pow from start to finish, soft snow at Vail and Aspen-Snowmass in mid-December, to my finale at Big Sky Montana on Easter in a foot of fresh. I ventured to Austria in January, skiing Kitzbuhel, Innsbruck, Zillertal, SkiWelt and Alpbach, then flew back to Colorado in February for more white gold at Copper and Steamboat.

aspen-heatherI ended with 49 ski days (I don’t turn 50 till July this year – so I legally accomplished my goal). Of those 49 days, only 7 where bagged in balmy New England. I hit 30 different resorts, a stat I find pretty cool, from East to West to Europe.

My best ski day? There was the stellar sunny day in Kitzbühel Austria when I skied the Hahnenkamm course the week before the world’s best downhill skiers hit this hairy race course.

1aspen-highlands-bowlIn Aspen, we had powder days at Ajax, Aspen Highlands and Snowmass – so we certainly hit that jackpot. First tracks in 9 inches of fresh snow at Steamboat was pretty sweet too.

My favorite ski run was probably a moonlight ski down at Sugarbush Resort in Vermont on an unpredicted 8-inches of powder that fell during our mountaintop beer pairing dinner in mid-February – cheers!

big-sky-aspen-heather-moonlight2The best ski trip was Big Sky Montana, because our family of four was reunited on the snow. We hadn’t shared a family ski trip in four years (while the kids were in college). Staying in a cozy mountainside cabin, we could put our skis on for first tracks from our Cowboy Heaven deck, and do laps on the Lone Peak Tram, and the Six Shooter high speed six-pack chair, skiing all of Big Sky’s amazing 5,800 acres. We had fresh snow almost daily, except for the gloriously sunny Saturday prior to Easter. Skiing the Dictators steep and deep with our son, and cruising cord on Tippy’s and Silver Knife with our daughter were the stuff ski dreams are made of.

big-sky-family2016Of course, we had the inevitable family fits, travel hassles, planning our canned family ski photos, and bickering about which Big Sky trails to ski, but that’s what gives downhill skiing its uphills.

It’s time to tune my skis and set my sights on next ski season. I’m shopping next Season’s Pass deals too. The Epic Pass is super tempting with unlimited skiing at Vail, Beaver Creek, Park City, and three ski resorts in Lake Tahoe… to name a few.

big-sky-ianThe Max Pass  is another multi mountain deal including Big Sky, Bachelor, Solitude, Steamboat, Copper and Winter Park and my East Coast favorites Sunday River, Sugarloaf, Loon, Killington/Pico, Stratton and Tremblant. I will let you know which ski pass I purchase to #GoToTheSnow.

By Heather Burke, photos by Greg Burke

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Heather Burke, 2016 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

Buying New Ski Boots ~ the Fit, the Sole and the Stink

family-ski-trip-packingI love getting new skis, I’m like a kid in a candy store when I get to demo shiny sharp new boards. But I hate having to buy new ski boots. Achieving a perfect ski boot fit is so key, yet so taxing on my soles. Fellow skiers, you know the pinches and winces associated in breaking in new ski boots, or more likely – new ski boots breaking you in – from your toes to your shins. So when my four-season-old ski boots were feeling cavernous, the lining packed out, the insoles lacking any cushion or bounce, just a bad odor, I dreaded shopping for new ski boots.

vail-heather-simbaNot having time, or an extra $500 kicking around, I opted instead to spend just 15% of that on new custom foot beds with admittedly low expectations. Wow – what a difference. My 160-ski-day-old boots were revitalized. By simply sliding in new Tread Lab foot beds, my feet and my skiing were reinvigorated – not to mention fresher smelling.

I could carve better, and my feet were warmer – even on a -4F degree ski day at Sugarbush, Vermont. I boots-ski2016didn’t even have to schlep to the ski shop since Tread Labs, based in Stoneham, Mass., ships two pair of insoles within your exact shoe size and width, offering varying arch support. You pick the best fit and send the other pair back in the prepaid, labeled package. If neither pair of insoles work, return them both for a full refund.

There are plenty of custom foot beds and orthotics on the market. Tread Labs, made in the U.S., have a 1purgatory4unique deep heel cup and indestructible arch support – with a lifetime guarantee. I’ll get back to you on that after 40 days of skiing.

Apparently you can also move your Tread Labs to other footwear, your sneakers in summer and hiking boots in fall for example. At $75 a pair, Tread Labs are worth trying to enhance your ski boot comfort and therefore your skiing performance, because happy feet are key to a happy skier.

By Heather Burke, photos by Greg Burke

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Heather Burke, 2016 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

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