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The Commons
Photo 1

Commons file

An early ad for Magic Mountain Ski Area in Londonderry, once again under new ownership.

Sports

New owners try again to revive Magic Mountain

Originally published in The Commons issue #386 (Wednesday, December 7, 2016).



Magic Mountain has had more lives than a cat in recent years.

The 700-acre Londonderry ski resort and its 1,700-foot vertical drop on the flank of Glebe Mountain is beloved by its loyal fans, but it was a resort that seemed to be caught in the middle of the Vermont ski scene — too big to be a small ski area and too small to be a big resort.

Magic originally opened in 1960 by Swiss ski instructor Hans Thorner, and legend has it that the mountain’s contours reminded Thorner of his homeland. It prospered during the ski boom years of the 1960s and 1970s.

More recently, however, Magic has been plagued by financial problems and was closed for six years in the 1990s. It reopened in 1997, and has seen multiple owners over the past two decades.

Geoff Hatheway is the latest person to try his hand at resurrecting Magic. Last month, he and Ski Magic LLC, the investment group he is leading, announced it had completed the purchase of the resort. The purchase price was not disclosed.

Hatheway, a Dartmouth graduate and veteran of the New York advertising and media scene, recently told The Boston Globe that he had been skiing in southern Vermont since he was 3, when his family would go on outings to Stratton, Bromley, and Magic. He said he fell in love with Magic because it had a more intimate feel than the big resorts.

But Hatheway’s group definitely has its work cut out for it, with the two biggest jobs getting Magic’s two ski lifts fully operational and improving snowmaking on the mountain.

“People don’t even think we make snow, but we do,” Hatheway told the Globe, “and we’ve made it over the years but we need to do a better job of making that snow consistently on more trails so there’s a good feeling that no matter what the weather brings, that Magic’s going to have a good variety of terrain.”

As for the lift capacity, Hatheway said “a huge priority for us is getting [the] second summit lift going, which hasn’t run in two years. It’s a great old lift, but it’s been neglected. We put a lot of money into the thing and we’re getting close on it.”

He said visitors are going to get “what Magic has always had, which is a really challenging and interesting ski experience on the trails, and in the glades, and just a really warm, friendly, fun community in the lodge and on the slopes.”

The resort hopes to open on Dec. 17 on a Thursday to Sunday schedule. More information on ticket prices and promotions is available at www.magicmtn.com.

Hoping for a better year

• Last season was a lousy one for Vermont’s 20 ski resorts.

After setting a record in the 2014-15 season with 4.67 million skier visits. according to the Vermont Ski Areas Association, the 2015-16 season saw a drop to 3.2 million — a 30 percent drop.

It would have been even worse, had not the bigger resorts invested heavily in snowmaking to make up for adverse weather conditions.

Last December, only 12 percent of the state’s total skiable terrain was open by Christmas week. Last ski season saw the least amount of snow and the warmest temperatures since the winters of 1973 and 1974, the all-time worst years on record for Vermont ski areas.

It’s too soon to say whether it will be better this year, but considering how Killington managed to make enough snow to host a World Cup race last month, expect the snowmakers to try for similar miracles at Okemo, Stratton, and Mount Snow if the weather cooperates.

Okemo, Stratton, and Mount Snow all opened on Thanksgiving week and, between machine-made snow and a little bit of natural snow, they managed to have a limited amount of terrain available for skiing and riding.

For the latest information on ski conditions around the state, visit skivermont.com.

BF runner organizes benefit race for Meeting Waters Y

• Cody Tallent, a senior at Bellows Falls Union High School, was one of the top runners for the Terriers during the fall cross-country season. He is also a staff member at Meeting Waters YMCA’s Y Day Camp and Y-ASPIRE afterschool program.

His work with the Y inspired him to organize a 5K run and walk to benefit Meeting Waters Y’s Reach Out to Youth Scholarship Fund. The Bellows Falls 5K Winter Classic will be held on Saturday, Dec. 17, at 10 a.m. It starts and finishes at the Rockingham Recreation Center on Playground Road.

“I’m doing this to finish my Senior Project. I wanted to do a road race because I love running,” Tallent said in a news release. “I wanted Meeting Waters YMCA to be the beneficiary of the event because I have seen first-hand how the Y has benefited kids and I know the money will help kids and families in our community.”

According to Tallent, the 5K route will consist of two laps of a 2.5 kilometer circuit (about a mile-and-a-half).

“Hopefully, this will encourage families to come and do the event together,” Tallent said.

More information about the BF 5K Winter Classic — as well as a registration form — are available at www.meetingwatersymca.org. You can also register the morning of the event as well. Contact Meeting Waters YMCA’s administrative office at 802-463-4769 or info@meetingwatersymca.org for the details.

Wrestling program folds at BFUHS

• Bellows Falls Union High School, which operated a cooperative wrestling program with Hartford High School, could not field a team for the upcoming season.

BF wrestling coach Todd Swisher told the Brattleboro Reformer last week that the few students who did come out for wrestling will continue to practice and compete in selected tournaments as independents.

As the only school in Windham County with a wrestling program, BF has had a tough road.

Claude Weyant started the program in the mid-1990s, and after struggling on its own for about 15 years, BF had to merge its team with Hartford’s in 2011 to continue to survive.

In the five years it has existed, the merged BF/Hartford team has seen some successes, including finishing third in the state tournament in 2013 despite only having seven wrestlers. BF/Hartford was seventh in the state in 2015 and 10th in 2016.

Wrestling is not an easy sport to pursue. It requires a level of discipline and dedication far beyond any other high school-level sport.

“Wrestling is such a good sport because it demands accountability,” Swisher told The Commons in 2015. “You can’t fake accountability. If you get your hand raised [signaling victory], it’s what you’ve done in practice that made that happen. If you made some mistakes, and you don’t get your hand raised, maybe you’re not completely focused in practice, maybe you’re not eating right, maybe you’re not sleeping enough, but it all comes back to you.”

Swisher told us that this is the great paradox of wrestling: the very lessons one can learn through the sport are often what drive people away from it.

“All of that responsibility lies on your shoulders,” he said. “That’s a lot to carry.”

Six Colonels named to All-State team

• Despite going 4-5 and missing the Division I playoffs, voters for the Vermont All-State football team recognized the talent that was on this year’s Brattleboro squad.

Six Colonels were first-team selections: middle linebacker/offensive lineman Conor Hiner, offensive lineman Kyle Banford, defensive end Cory Cliche, defensive back Matt Gaboriault, fullback Kolton Ravenna, and tailback Cheick Diakite.

Three players were named to the second team: offensive lineman/linebacker Durin Hoyer, outside linebacker Seth Rhodes, and placekicker Jack Price.

Senior bowling roundup

• Heading into the final quarter of the fall season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League, Team 5 (49-21) solidified its hold on first place during Week 14, while Team 1 and Team 3 (42-28) are again tied for second. Team 4 (39-31) moved up into third place, while Team 6 and Team 9 (37-33) are tied for fourth. Team 7 (31-39) is fifth, followed by Team 10 (30-40), Team 7 (26-39), Team 8 (23-47), and Team 2 (20-50).

Team 5 had the team high handicap game (878) and series (2,585). Jackie McElroy had the women’s high handicap game (249), while Carol Frizzell (693) had the high handicap series. Peter Glibert (250) had the men’s high handicap game, while Warren Corriveau Sr. (687) had the high handicap series.

Corriveau (651) rolled a 600-plus series, while Frizzell (518) has a 500-plus series, as did Jerry Dunham (570), Marty Adams (578), Charles Marchant (562), Tom Johnson (516), and Fred Ashworth (505). Corriveau (235, 205, 211) had three 200-plus games. Dunham (201), Gilbert (209), and Adams (212) were also in the 200 club.

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