Hit­ting the slopes, then and now

Greenwich Time - - NEWS - NORMA BARTOL Green­wich na­tive Norma Bartol, a for­mer Green­wich Time re­porter and colum­nist, lives in the back­coun­try.

Imag­ine my sur­prise when I opened my Sun­day news­pa­per and found the fol­low­ing head­line, “Snow Coun­try Pre­view,” at this time of year. Since I have been a skier for a good part of my life, I was most in­ter­ested.

It LL started out like this: My grand­mother was left with me, which she loved and I loved, for Christ­mas va­ca­tion one year when my par­ents were in Texas on busi­ness. What to do? As it hap­pened, my grand­mother spent part of the sum­mer in Wood­stock, Vt. What a grand place to ski — it was one of the early re­sorts.

So up we went via the train, as there was one then. We stayed at an inn, and my grand­mother ar­ranged to have a young man teach me and my care­taker how to ski. The skiers at the base box must have been amazed, es­pe­cially as sev­eral pairs of old-fash­ioned ski pants were in­cluded in the mix. In those days, the snappy ones worn to­day were not part of my wardrobe. There­fore, off I went with the at­trac­tive young man to the slopes.

Since it was a lovely sunny day, I loved my lessons. After start­ing on the eas­i­est slopes, I had de­vel­oped a bit of ski knowl­edge by the end of the va­ca­tion. I loved every bit of it.

It was also fun meet­ing some young peo­ple whose par­ents were also stay­ing at the inn. I hated to go home, although rid­ing home in a fancy seat in the Pull­man car was also in­ter­est­ing to me. All in all, it was a won­der­ful va­ca­tion.

That is un­til my par­ents ar­rived home. It seemed that my mother wanted me to en­joy the par­ties in New York, rather than be­come a skier. Then, my ski­ing be­came a slim bit of my life. For­tu­nately, in the years to come, I met some friends who were skiers and who asked me to join them.

At this time, I was col­lege­bound and my cousins, the Warner brothers, asked whether I would like to join them in their ski house in Stowe, Vt. Of course! How won­der­ful it was, and con­tin­ued to be un­til age caught up with me. In the mean­time, I had brought up four skiers and my hus­band, who I had met on the slopes.

To­day, age and other in­ter­ests have caught up with my ski­ing, but I was pleased to see the head­line “Snow Coun­try Pre­view: East­ern ski re­sorts roll out big­gest changes in years.” Frankly, I feel the changes hap­pened when the first chair­lift at Stowe was built.

Ac­cord­ing to the story, “Skiers will ride faster lifts, cruise down new trails, and this sea­son the group will ride and kick back in sparkling new lodges.” The lodges have added more snow-mak­ing that is more ef­fi­cient. An un­usu­ally early sea­son was launched at Connecticut’s Mo­hawk Moun­tain, thanks to a snow­mak­ing test.

At Mount Snow, ac­com­mo­dates turned modern with a heated pool and in­door ice rink, and a space car lift from the ho­tel to the lifts.

A Connecticut res­i­dent opened the Killing­ton ski area in Ver­mont in 1958. He also in­tro­duced the “ex­pe­ri­ence” — a pop­u­lar ski week that came with lodg­ing, lessons, rentals, and equip­ment.

At Killing­ton, they even dug two tun­nels on Snow­down Moun­tain that will al­low skiers to en­joy a topto-bot­tom run. To say noth­ing of the fact that you can rent ex­clu­sive use of Pico Peak in Ver­mont on Tues­days and Wed­nes­days for a mere $6,500.

Also, there’s a new snow bowl lift at Strat­ton. And Bret­ton Woods in New Hamp­shire has the first eight-per­son gon­dola. Okemo in Ver­mont is now owned by Vail Re­sorts, which also owns Stowe Moun­tain Re­sort in Ver­mont. Cata­mount Ski Area, where we could ski for a day, has been sold for $3 mil­lion.

How the ski world has changed.

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