Although Killington opened for skiing and snowboarding on Nov. 3, and Okemo opened on Nov. 15, most Vermont resorts wait until Thanksgiving week to open their slopes.
Mount Snow in West Dover got an early jump on Thanksgiving by opening for a sneak preview last Friday and Saturday, with skiing on a dozen trails and a terrain park on The Gulch for the boarders.
Mount Snow took a break on Monday and Tuesday and says it plans to reopen for the rest of the season on Wednesday, Nov. 26, weather permitting. It adds it will run the lifts from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily through Dec. 19.
Stratton Mountain in Winhall is also scheduled to open on Nov. 26, while Bromley in Peru is waiting until Friday, Nov. 28. Magic Mountain in Londonderry is holding off until Dec. 20.
Many Vermont resorts say they’ve upgraded their snowmaking systems for this season.
Mount Snow says it just installed 645 state-of-the-art, low-energy snow guns and a new snowmaking control system called SmartSnow, the same system used to monitor the snowmaking operation in Sochi, Russia, that was installed for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Stratton says it added 350 new, energy-efficient snowmaking tower guns, bringing the total on the mountain to 1,110.
Bromley says its “Team Snowmageddon” installed 78 new, high-efficiency tower guns and a new air compressor system.
Magic Mountain didn’t take part in the snow gun arms race that the bigger resorts are engaged in, focusing its off-season energy instead on upgrading its chair lifts and moving its Hocus Pocus terrain park to Carumba, where new features and a new layout await visitors.
The Hermitage Club at Haystack Mountain, a private, members-only ski area in West Dover, is scheduled to open on Friday, Dec. 12. It has more than 350 members and bills itself as the only private ski club in the East.
As for Nordic skiing, the Brattleboro Outing Club’s trails at the Brattleboro Country Club will open “whenever we get enough natural snow for skiing,” its executives report.
Grafton Ponds Outdoor Center in Grafton has set a tentative opening date of Monday, Dec. 15, if conditions are cold enough for snow making. The center has snowmaking coverage on 5 kilometers of its trail network to supplement whatever snow falls from the sky.
Winter sports season begins next week
Practices began around Vermont on Nov. 17 for the winter high school sports season, and the games begin next week.
• The hockey season begins on Wednesday, Dec. 3, as the Brattleboro girls have a 4:15 p.m. game at Rutland and the Brattleboro boys open at home at 7:15 p.m. against Burr & Burton at Whitington Rink.
• The boys’ basketball season begins on Friday, Dec. 5, as Bellows Falls travels to Rutland to face Mount St. Joseph, while Twin Valley travels to Rivendell Academy and Leland & Gray hosts Hartford. All three games start at 7 p.m.
• On Saturday, Dec. 6, Brattleboro hosts Mount Mansfield at the BUHS gym for a 2 p.m. game. On Monday, Dec. 8, the Colonels will face Leland & Gray in Townshend for a 7 p.m. contest.
• Girls’ basketball starts on Dec. 3 for Leland & Gray as they travel to Dressel Gym in Springfield for a 7 p.m. game. On Dec. 5, Twin Valley travels to Rivendell Academy for its opener at 5:30 p.m.
• On Tuesday, Dec. 9, Brattleboro hosts Hartford for a 7 p.m. game at the BUHS gym. Bellows Falls opens at home on Thursday, Dec. 11, against Poultney in a 7 p.m. game at Holland Gymnasium.
• The Brattleboro Nordic team starts its season on Saturday, Dec. 13, with a freestyle sprint race at Topnotch Resort in Stowe, weather permitting.
• Finally, the BF/Hartford wrestling team opens its season on Wednesday, Dec. 17, when it hosts Fair Haven at 5:30 p.m. at Holland Gymnasium.
Hunters helping the hungry
The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department again ask deer hunters to consider sharing their quarry with local food banks.
But it may be easier said than done in Vermont.
Susan Kochinskas at the Putney Food Shelf filled me in on the process and obstacles:
“The Vermont Foodbank (VFB, of which we are a network agency partner) follows the guidelines of Feeding America (of which they are a partner). They ask that the VFB only accept meat butchered in a U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved kitchen (of which there are none in Vermont) and labeled with that site and the hunter’s license number so they can track it if problems arise.”
So the VFB does not accept hunted meat, she added.
Although the VFB does not mandate that food shelves follow this, “we were thinking if we did accept hunted meat we would need to know date killed, where it was butchered, as well as the hunter’s license number. I would imagine the butchering costs would prevent most hunters from donating. Food safety is the key here,” Kochinskas explained.
The upshot, Kochinskas said: Putney Food Shelf won’t accept donations of game.
That said, Lucie Fortier at the Brattleboro Area Drop In Center reports her food shelf will accept donations of deer meat. Stephanie Thompson at the Springfield Family Center said she will also accept venison donations.
To find a list of food shelves around Vermont, with contact information, visit www.vtfoodbank.org. And call first before you offer those deer steaks.