The more things change, the more they stay the same

The more things change, the more they stay the same

The weekend bus trip January 24th to 26th was full of new faces: 18 of the 41 attendees were guests, and there were few long-time members along. But attendees’ passion for skiing and commitment to both community and fun were as strong as ever.

Conditions on Saturday at Sugarbush were not great: lots of ice, fog, flat light, and long lift lines. Nevertheless, everyone seemed to have an excellent time, particularly our guests who do not ski often.

Several guests took advantage of the Huntley Program to pay for beginner lessons. Melissa Nettles did a two day women’s clinic at Sugarbush. Phil Caracci took the shuttle over to Mt. Ellen, where there were no lift lines but snow conditions were equally bad. Regina Schuster skied her first-ever black diamond, with the support of Virginia Hunt and Becky Renaud.

I had a leisurely lunch at Rumble’s with the two Ceciles: Cecile Grima (G3) and Cecile van Manen (G1). G3 Cecile has come on the same trip in January for three years in a row and always brings a big group of enthusiastic friends. They headed back out to ski after lunch, but I stayed at the bar. An icy rain started around 2 PM, causing people to steadily join me at Rumbles.

While at Rumbles, we learned bad news: Ruth Yashpan broke her leg. She had a small fall on an easy run, but that type of fall can be the most dangerous. Kay Pham (G1) saw Ruth fall and stayed with her in the Sugarbush urgent care for a chunk of the afternoon. Trip Leader Gail Tuzman accompanied Ruth to the hospital and left Virginia (Gail’s staff) in charge of the trip for the evening.

Virginia reveled in her brief stint in power and at dinner gave the most entertaining emcee performance I’ve seen at Miramar. After dinner, G3 Cecile brought out all the ingredients and sticks to make s’mores, so people gathered around the fireplace to chat and eat. Brad Boehm and Modou Cham (G1) made excellent dirty martinis and other cocktails. No one danced. It was a low key, lovely evening full of laughter, though Ruth was on everyone’s minds.

The snow conditions and lines were much better the next day at Killington – it even snowed a bit! A big crowd of us gathered at Long Trail Pub at the end of the day and enjoyed a bite and a drink before boarding the bus. We left at 4 PM, in anticipation of weather than never came, and were back at the Masonic lodge by 10 PM.

~ Blythe Austin

Spring Skiing in January

Spring Skiing in January

We had an unexpectedly small, but no less awesome, group for our trip this weekend. A week ago, when the forecast called for snow all weekend, we had 43 people sign up. But then the forecast turned to rain and people dropped out like flies, particularly on Wednesday after the bus cancellation deadline had passed. By the time the bus pulled out Friday evening, we had 19 people on board (plus Chip Martin, who drove to the lodge & skied at Stowe), including two G1s and one G3.

Nevertheless, we had good luck all weekend, starting with light traffic. The bus left Manhattan 15 minutes late, but reached the NJ folks at 7, stopped at New Baltimore at 8:45 and, after two wrong turns by our first-time driver, arrived at the lodge at 12:45.

On Saturday we headed to Sugarbush. The forecasted rain held off, but the temperature was in the 50’s. There were high winds up top, so Heaven’s Gate and Castle Rock were closed and Super Bravo closed mid-morning. Nevertheless, there were some good runs open on Gate House and Valley House. Stein’s in particular was nicely bumped. Some members did Nastar races. Ann Cooper won bronze and silver, and Karen McFarlane won two bronzes; they received commemorative pins.

Rafael Mellace and Virginia Hunt chose not to ski and spent the day exercising, swimming, and hot tubbing at the Sugarbush Health & Recreation Center.

Because the rain was forecasted to start mid-afternoon, trip leader Richard Carey decided to have the bus leave Sugarbush at 2:30. This was a good call. By 2 PM the runs were total slush and a downpour started at 2:45. After getting back to the lodge, David Wallenstein, Phil Caracci, John Cummings, and guest Motoko Naya walked over to Lawson’s for a drink.

Several people chose to stay at Sugarbush after 2:30: Vera Smirnov, Mike Pausche, and guest David Acott opted to keep skiing/boarding; Rafael, Virginia, Larry Dunlay, and I opted to prolong our après ski at Rumbles. At the end of the day we all cheerfully piled into the Mad Bus together to get home.

After dinner, Caroline brought out a cake slice with a candle and we all sang happy birthday to Evelyn Konrad, who just turned 91 and is still skiing!

Later, Phil won Left, Right, Center – a well-deserved first win after many years of skillful playing.

Richard faced a tough weather call on Sunday morning. It had stayed warm and rained all night. He decided to change our destination from Killington to Sugarbush, with stops at both bases, so that people who didn’t want to ski could stay at the lodge or go to the Sugarbush gym, and pushed back our departure time until 9 AM in hopes that the rain would stop.

It rained HARD on our way to Sugarbush – so hard that many changed their minds and decided not to ski. But, as the two Davids, Motoko, Rafael, and I tentatively disembarked at Mt. Ellen, the rain stopped and didn’t return. We headed up to Summit Quad where, miraculously, the snow was excellent – soft with plenty of coverage. Even FIS wasn’t icy! At lunchtime it began to snow and coated the runs in a few inches of powder. And yet, there were fewer than ten other people skiing on Summit Quad. It was like we had our own private ski mountain the whole day.

Siobhan Bolger and Evelyn skied briefly at Lincoln Peak and then joined Virginia at the Castle Rock Pub. Everyone else had lunch in Waitsfield and boarded the bus at the lodge at 2:30. After two quick pickups at Mt. Ellen and Lincoln Peak, we had an uneventful drive back to NYC.

This trip was the first time we had a WhatsApp texting group for all attendees. It built camaraderie and made communication much easier. Richard used it to announce bus pickup times; we used it to tell Richard and each other our location and plans. Ten people (half the trip attendees) shared photos to the group. I imagine that soon we’ll all look back and not be able to remember what it was like not to have a trip WhatsApp group. This was also the second trip where we’ve done member and guest reviews electronically, via a link sent out by email, rather than on paper forms. The days of scribbling in the dark on a moving bus and, for the Executive Committee, struggling to decipher people’s handwriting are behind us.

All in all, it was a fantastic and fun weekend. A good reminder never to plan life around forecasts, because forecasts are often wrong!

~ Blythe Austin


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