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November 5, 2013

Outdoors: Skiing starts early with new technology

Advances in ski technology have allowed ski areas to extend their seasons into the shoulders of winter like never before. As long as it is cold enough at night to make snow and there are no prolonged rainy spells, mountains can pile up the snow on at least some of their terrain.Those with access to unlimited water can just pump it out in crystal form using snow guns that have been engineered to be very efficient.

Where it was unheard of to be open for skiing in November, it is now becoming much more common. For example, Karl Stone of Ski New Hampshire tells me that at least seven of the 33 alpine and cross country areas in his state plan to open this month. Of course the cross-country areas, for the most part, rely on natural snow, but places like Bretton Woods, Mt. Sunapee, and Waterville now have the capability to make their own in such volume they can offer surprisingly good surfaces much earlier in the year than ever before.

Over in Vermont, Killington has always made a big deal out of being the first to open. In the past it has been more of a publicity stunt than real skiing, but over the past few years they and others have been able to offer quality skiing on limited trails in November. And, it is usually offered at a substantial discount. Of the 39 ski resorts and cross country facilities in Vermont, many of them will be operational around Thanksgiving. That being said, it is “buyer beware” time. Do not expect mid-season depth and full trail edge width but for those with a hankering to get in a few early runs, the opportunity is there.

The Boston Ski Show:

The 32nd Annual Boston Ski and Snowboard Expo will be held Nov. 14-17 at the World Trade Center on Boston Harbor. With the 2014 Winter Olympic games to be held in Russia this year, this show will feature U.S. Olympians past and present to be on hand.

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