Doane—second only to Egger in seniority—has taught in the Stratton Ski School since 1964, when new American skiers were indoctrinated into the sport through an old Austrian tradition known as the “ski week.” Guests skied and socialized together all week under the tutelage of instructors, who, clad in red sweaters emblazoned with a big black eagle, demonstrated their skills en masse down Suntanner, culminating with Hermann Goellner’s signature layout flip.
Well-planned week-long ski trips have since given way to last-minute weekend jaunts, but the ski school’s tradition of high standards remains. As overseer of the daily kids programs and occasional women’s workshops, Alison Cummings’s job is to make family skiing easier. She ticks off the big and little things in place to address parents’ concerns as they arise: “Daycare for the little ones is right at the drop-off area, and the ski school and rentals are in one facility, so when you drop your kids off we deal with the rental process right there.” (Schlep factor: gone.) “And we have our own full kitchen and high-end chef, so your kids aren’t eating nasty pizza.” (Guilt factor: gone.) Cummings also notes that changing the layout of the beginner terrain above the ski school significantly improved the traffic flow. “It’s more protected but still accessible to parents who want to ski over and watch.” (Worry factor: gone.)
The end result puts first-time visitors at ease and compels regulars to enroll their kids into one of the many season-long programs in snowboarding, all-mountain skiing, freestyle skiing and racing. The breadth of offerings isn’t a marketing gimmick, but a true reflection of Stratton’s big-tent history. Freestyle skiing dates back to the days of the mogul gods in the red sweaters, and thanks to Burton, Stratton is arguably the birthplace of modern snowboarding. With ongoing adjustments (such as dedicating the Sunbowl area to snowboarding’s U.S. Open and returning Suntanner to skiers), the resort has managed to embrace all disciplines in both sports. Kids who grew up in these programs now put their own kids in them.
And when those kids decide to take their skills to the highest level, they need look no further than another local institution, the Stratton Mountain School. In 1972, a couple of families who had gotten themselves hooked on skiing had a problem. They needed to find a way for their kids to compete at the highest levels in ski racing without falling behind in school. So they formed Stratton Mountain School in a small hotel right across the parking lot from the mountain. The school and its athletes quickly gained recognition, and by 1978, when the World Cup came to Stratton, the resort was synonymous with elite racing.