Tragedy Touches Ski Family
The events of Sept. 11 no doubt claimed the lives of many skiers, but two Eastern resorts were particularly touched by the tragedy.
When Jeremy Glick, one of the heroes of the flight that crashed in Western Pennsylvania, made his last call to his wife, she was in Windham, N.Y., where her family owned a home at Ski Windham. Glick and his wife, Liz, were both instructors there. Jeremy was an equally adept skier and snowboarder, who taught in the season-long adult ski school programs, a resort spokesperson says. Clients loved his enthusiasm for the sport and the can-do, "let's roll" attitude that may have saved hundreds of lives and a national landmark. No one at Windham was surprised by his heroics.
Ken Lewis, who died with his wife, also a flight attendant, in the Pentagon crash, loved tennis, travel and, above all, skiing. His airline career afforded him the opportunity to visit ski areas all over the world. He taught in Europe, then in Breckenridge, Colo., and finally at Wintergreen, Va. "He would wake up at six, take a cup of coffee out on the deck and just breathe in the mountain air," recalls his roommate of the time.
That's something we might all do this winter, with a greater appreciation for life and a deeper sense of gratitude.
Sugarbush Sold To Locals
Fans of Sugarbush¿and there are many¿hope new ownership portends a renaissance for the Central Vermont resort. Four local investors, all of whom live at least part-time in the Mad River Valley, purchased the resort from debt-strapped American Skiing Co. for an undisclosed sum. The new owners, led by CEO Tom McHugh and including the former general manager of nearby Mad River Glen, acquired the resort in September.
Most agree that Sugarbush has languished in recent years as ASC encountered cash-flow difficulties. The new owners know the mountain well, says McHugh, and more important, how things work in the Mad River Valley community. In the near term, he promises improved customer service. On his wish list for the future: expanded base-lodge facilities and reconfiguring of the lifts at North (Mt. Ellen), where changes ASC made have been the subject of pointed local derision. Meanwhile, replacement of the condemned Castlerock chair is proceeding apace, and should be completed by Christmas.
Tremblant Lands Taxpayer Cash
Already rated the No. 1 resort in the East by the readers of SKI Magazine, Mont Tremblant, Que., is just getting warmed up. In September, the province of Quebec announced that it would contribute about $50 million (U.S.) toward the Laurentian resort's massive redevelopment project. Phases 3 and 4 are expected to cost up to $650 million. That's in addition to the $550 million that Intrawest Corp. says it has already spent on phases 1 and 2, which included its popular slopeside village, two golf courses and several upscale hotel and condominium properties.
Since being acquired by Intrawest 10 years ago, the once-provincial day area has gone from 350,000 visitors a year to 2.3 million, many from outside Canada. "We're not stopping there," says Michel Aubin, Tremblant's president. On tap: a new pedestrian village with convention center, three hotels and a spa as part of Phase 3 in the Versant Soleil area. Phase 4 will feature a pedestrian village near the slopes at Versant Nord, where Intrawest envisions "a more rustic, adventure-oriented, yet relaxed atmosphere."
Quebec's government expects increased tax revenues to provide ample return on its investment. The goal is to make the resort "a major international destination by 2010," with a capacity of 4 million visitors a year.
Tough Times For Small Hills
Leonard Cottom, owner of Ski Hawksnest in the North Carolina High Country, will shutter his resort this season, and he blames the local police department. Overzealous traffic enforcement on the Hawksnest acccess road, including speed traps and sobriety tests, scared away his customers, Cottom alleges. He says business dropped by some 18,000 skier visits last year because customers feared being pulled over. Hawksnest will be converted into a snow-tubing park.
In New Hampshire, Tenney Mountain may go dark this season after all. Tenney-lovers had launched an attempt to purchase the resort by selling shares and taking it private. The group failed to raise sufficient capital in time to open this season, though some still hope to revive the hill for next season.
Meanwhile, add Temple Mountain, N.H., to the list of defunct ski areas: Co-owner Peter Martin, 65, says he can no longer keep up with the needs of the facility. He hopes to find investors to purchase the 352-acre ski area.