SKI - - EAST - — J.C.

What gives? Read­ers are fi­nally be­ing a lot nicer to long-un­der­rated, un­der-ap­pre­ci­ated Sugarbush. Maybe they were on their sec­ond pint of Sun­shine at the Castle­rock Pub when they filled out their sur­veys? (The new celebrity beer—top­ping even Heady Top­per in the Beer Ad­vo­cate rank­ings—is a lo­cal brewer’s cre­ation.) Or maybe Amer­i­can Ski­ing Co.’s cor­po­rate sins can fi­nally be for­given, and read­ers are notic­ing that Sugarbush’s savvy indy own­er­ship has made an unerring se­ries of im­prove­ments over the past cou­ple of decades. All the old strengths re­main. Sugarbush has a breadth of ter­rain that just doesn’t get the re­spect it de­serves, from the au­then­tic fixed-grip, nat­u­ral-snow Castle­rock vibe at Lin­coln Peak to the most-in-Ver­mont 2,600 feet of sus­tained vert over at Sugarbush’s whole other ski area, Mount Ellen. (Plus huge tracts of off-piste hard­wood for­est in be­tween.) The scenery is still per­fectly beau­ti­ful. Read­ers at­test that greater Waits­field/War­ren is pos­si­bly the pret­ti­est ski town there is in the East—“clas­sic Ver­mont,” un­spoiled by overde­vel­op­ment, still graced by work­ing farms along the Mad River. Not sur­pris­ingly, liv­ing in a beau­ti­ful place makes the lo­cals happy, as scores of read­ers at­test. “Friendly Ver­mont at­mos­phere… I am start­ing to feel like I’m com­ing home when I get to Waits­field.” “The en­tire town vibe is awe­some.” Mean­while, slope­side ameni­ties have steadily im­proved and ex­panded, with­out over­com­mer­cial­iz­ing the place. “In­cred­i­ble im­prove­ments.” “Great bal­ance be­tween ameni­ties and pure Ver­mont ski­ing.” “Very nice job of mod­ern­iz­ing yet pre­serv­ing its New Eng­land ski hill charm.” All that, and read­ers still feel like they’re get­ting a pretty good deal. “It fills a nice spot be­tween how rus­tic Mad River is and how glam Stowe has be­come.” And the ul­ti­mate en­dorse­ment? One reader is al­ready plan­ning an ex­tended stay. “Grew up ski­ing here, and I’ll have my ashes spread here.”

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