Weather Finally Cooperating
Finally, and I mean finally, the weather across the lower parts of the Midwest and Michigan's LP has begun to cooperate. Although places in Minnesota, the UP, and Upper Wisconsin have seen record-breaking snowpacks - those south have had nothing but warm temps and rain.
Luckily that trend seems to be changing, as snow and colder temperatures are coming across the Midwest. Including some of our more southern friends in states like Michigan's LP, Ohio, Indiana, & Missouri. These trending lower temperatures mean snowmaking can continue for those areas, and hopefully (fingers crossed) winter will stick around for good.
The Extended Forcast
The extended forecast looks even more favorable, and actually maybe too much so, as bitter temperatures are already forcing some ski areas in the upper Midwest to halt their lifts over the weekend. That said, if you plan skiing or riding this weekend into next week - bundle up and double-check with your ski area to ensure they will be open.
Afton Tunnel Now Open
And speaking of Open - the moment that every child in the greater twin-cities area waits for all season occurred last week at Afton Alps, and of course, we are talking about the opening of the tunnel.
The drainage apprentice that has somehow won over the hearts of children across the area is located adjacent to the Highlands area between Britas Run and Chis' Canyon.
Andy Parry's Tell a Friend Tour
And features are exactly what Andy Parry and the tell-a-friend tour crew will be hitting as they stop at five of our Midwest ski areas over the next few weeks. They will kick off the tour at Welch Village this Friday, January 27th, and will follow up with stops at Troll, Buck Hill, The Rock Snowpark, and Pine Knob. So if you love some great skiing, free pizza, and a massive stack of free swag, you better mark your calendars.
And while you are in that pizza/freestyle coma - flip on the Winter X Games, as they will kick off this Friday, January 27th. This Winter X Games marks the 27th consecutive year of the action sports games that got its start back in 1997. The event will be held at Aspen and will run until Sunday evening.
X Games Starts This Friday
We'll keep our eyes on Midwesterner - Red Gerard - who will compete in Snowboarding Slopestyle. Red learned to snowboard at Boston Mills/Brandywine in Ohio and was just there a couple of weeks ago for the ski hill's Dew After Dark event, where fans could meet and chat with the Olympian. Coverage begins this Friday on ABC, ESPN, and Streaming online - click here to view the full schedule.
Lindsey Vonn Becomes First Woman To Ski the Streif
Another Midwest Olympian that made headlines this week was Lindsey Vonn. Last week the Queen of speed became the first woman to ski the legendary Streif in Kitzbühel, the most notorious downhill course in the world. But it didn't stop there because, in perfect Midwestern fashion, she did so at night. The Streif is considered one of the most challenging downhill slopes in the world, but of course, the Minnesota native made it look easier than finding a fish fry on a Friday evening. You can watch her full run by clicking here.
Mikaela Shiffrin Takes Her 83rd Victory
But that's not the only news surrounding the former World Cup alpine ski racer, as earlier this week, Mikaela Shiffrin, broke her record for World Cup Wins by taking her 83rd world cup victory. This victory for Shiffrin leaves just one record left for her to break, Steenmark's career record of 86 wins. Shiffrin has only four more wins to become the winningest alpine skier of all time.
Cascade Fires Up JL2
One word that we have heard a lot lately is new lifts, and we had a few more fire up this past week. Cascade spun their new JL2 quad for the first time, which replaced the old mogul monster triple. This new lift was named in honor of Jarrard Law and Justin Lentz, once Cascade locals, who in 2014 were victims of an avalanche while they were on a backcountry trip in Colorado. Friends and family of Jarrard and Justin were invited to the grand opening to commemorate the lift. Once again, a great tribute by Cascade Mountain.
Sunburst Spins New Rope Tow
A little further southeast, Sunburst in Wisconsin spun their new rope tow for the first time last week, part of their Wunderburg or learn-to-ski area. I'm not going to lie - I always love seeing new rope tows being installed, but I am biased.
Bottineau Announces New T-Bar for Next Season
Swinging up to Bottineau Winter Park in North Dakota, they announced early this month that they would replace their existing Hall T-Bar with a new Doppelmayr T-bar in the exact location.
Steeplechase Reoping For Skiing After 16-Year Hiatus
In other exciting news, the Midwest will add another ski hill in Minnesota as Steeplechase will welcome back skiers and snowboarders for the first time in over sixteen years. Steeplechase is located about 20 minutes north of Rochester and opened in 1999. However, the ski area would shortly close its doors in 2007.
However, last season, the new owners decided to open snow tubing, and after a successful season, they thought it was time to expand their offering to skiing and snowboarding. They will kick off the season on Saturday, February 4th, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will continue to run weekend hours as the season progresses. Steeplechase is planning on starting with two lifts serving ten runs. However, operations may be extended to three chairlifts and 15 runs based on demand. Learn more about Steeplechase skiing/riding by clicking here.
This opening will mark the second revied hill the Midwest has seen this season, with Thrill Hills welcoming back skiers after nearly a ten-year hiatus. These additions bring our total count of ski hills to 120 across our Midwestern states.
Warren Miller Not Filming New Footage This Season
In deeply saddening news, Chris Patterson - a longtime Warren Miller Entertainment Director, posted on Instagram this week explaining the parent Company - Outside, Inc's future for Warren Miller Films.
It read - "Recently Outside Inc. (the parent company of WM) announced that they will not film a movie this winter." Adding: "Due to financial challenges at Outside, the executives have chosen to assemble the future movies entirely with "existing footage" - no need for a camera crew, plane tickets, lift tickets, and for that matter, no need for athletes or snow."
Warren Miller Entertainment responded with a post stating: "This fall, we'll launch a retrospective where you'll see the birth of ski towns like Sun Valley and Aspen; meet snowsports icons and innovators and ride mountains from Greenland to Morocco." The post continued, "Then in 2024, we'll honor Warren's legacy with a film showcasing the next generation of ski and snowboard creators that will define what the next 75 years looks like."
This news is a massive hit to the industry, especially from the film side. I have always aspired to create content that could live up to Warren's earliest work, and it is unfortunate his legacy is being handled in such a corporate way.
Midwestskiers.com Featured On Kare 11
I want to wrap up with much happier news. Last weekend, I was invited onto Kare 11's Saturday program to discuss Midwest skiing with Belinda Jensen. Belinda is an avid skier - who grew up working at Afton Alps for the free season pass.
We had a great time discussing the Midwest ski scene and some improvements at ski areas around the Twin Cities. If you want to check out our chat, click here.
But there you have it, your fix of Midwest ski news from the past few weeks. We will drop a link below if you want to check out our last episode. But until next time, I hope all of you have a great week, pray for snow, and I'll see you guys out there!