It is so good to be back, and I hope that all of you had a great holiday break despite - some of the challenging weather issues, which we won't talk about (good vibes only.)
The Midwest's Roller Coaster Weather
Right before the holiday, the Midwest got pounded with a few natural snow storms, with snow being measured in feet in places like the north shore and da UP. We will skip over what is currently happening because the extended forecast is looking a bit better, with temperatures returning to normal. Still, given the damage that the rain and warm temperatures caused this week, it will likely take some time before ski areas in the lower parts of the Midwest can fully recover.
The Midwest See Another Busy Holiday Week
And recovering is exactly what Midwest ski area staff members are trying to do after another busy holiday season. Despite the less-than-ideal conditions, ski areas across the Midwest saw impressive crowds - with several selling out and running out of rental equipment.
Huge thank you to those that busted their butts throughout the holiday stretch, and just a reminder that we still have two more holiday weekends ahead - MLK weekend, which is January 14th through the 16th, and Presidents day weekend, which is February 18th - February 20th. If you plan skiing or riding during these weekends, please do your homework and be patient, as crowds will be higher than you typically see.
Glen Plake Visit Nub's Nob
One thing that you don't typically see is a Skiing celebrity at our small hills, but locals of Nub's Nob saw just that a few weeks ago. Glen Plake visited Nubs Nob for their opening weekend as part of their ski instructor seminars, in which Plake has been highly involved. In recent years Plake has become a certified PSIA level 3 instructor and examiner, which is an impressive addition to his world-renowned resume.
Paula Moltzan Grabs Her First Podium
And speaking of impressive skiers, Prior Lake and Buck Hill native Paula Moltzan snagged her first-ever podium win last week in Austria - taking 2nd place in the women's slalom event. This race was a massive victory for Paula, who has only continued to improve over the past couple of seasons.
But it didn't stop there because Mikaela Shiff-rin took the number one spot - earning her 80th career World Cup and marked the U.S. ski team's first 1-2 finish in a women's World Cup slalom since 1971
Some excellent skiing coming from the U.S. women's team, and if you want to find out how to watch the upcoming races, you can find the upcoming race schedule by clicking here.
Boyne Mountain's New Chairlifts for 2023
The Midwest's new chairlift frenzy continued as three new chairlifts were announced over the past couple of weeks for the 2023 season. Boyne Mountain announced two new lifts slated to be installed this summer. Both the Boyneland and Superbowl chairs will be replaced with Dopplemayr fixed-grip chairlifts.
Boyneland will be upgraded to a fixed grip quad with a loading carpet and be slightly realigned. The new chairlift will be about 150 feet uphill and shifted closer to the waffle cabin. This realignment will allow for easier loading from the base area and give the beginner's carpet a more designated space, but more on that in a future episode.
Over at Superbowl, they will replace the existing fixed quad with a new Dopplemayr fixed-gripped triple. Despite losing a seat, this new lift will have a much faster loading speed thanks to the loading carpet - loading and moving skiers/riders at nearly 500 feet per minute, which will be about a 20% increase from its current speed.
On top of this, the new lift will boast an adjusted alignment to increase skiers' flow - moving the top terminal closer to the break of the run and the bottom terminal further down slightly toward the parking lot. This, coupled with lots of earth moving and grading, will give advanced skiers and riders a much better experience on that side of the hill.
Mount Bohemia Replacing Front Lift Over Three Years
Swinging around the bull wheel to Mount Bohemia, they announced that they will be working with Skytrac to replace their front-side triple chairlift over the next three years. In the summer of 2023, Skytrac will replace the existing drive terminal or bottom terminal. In 2024, they will replace the top terminal. And in 2025, they will replace the towers and triple chairs.
The new lift line will remain in the same location, and although they are sticking with a triple chairlift, if you know anything about their existing lift situation - you'll know they use it as a double chair. So this improvement will increase uphill capacity by roughly 50%.
This chairlift will be an excellent upgrade for BOHO, and I love the idea of doing these over three seasons to help spread the financial burden of this massive capital investment.
New Mount Bohemia TV Episode Debuts
And speaking of BOHO, a couple of weeks ago, Mount Bohemia T.V. dropped a brand new episode on their youtube channel. If you are unfamiliar with this series, it was developed and produced by Joey Wallis and gives you a peak at some of the antics that happen at the ski area, and there is some pretty epic powder skiing as well. Click here to watch the newest episode.
Swiss Valley Announces New Run
Another thing that you might want to check out is Swiss Valley's new run. This summer, the team worked hard to cut a new run labeled Weezy's Way. This run is located just off of Mountain Do and offers some short but sweet glades and an excellent pitch to boot. This new trial is named after Jeff Weezy - Swiss Valley's lift operations manager. Jeff pushed the idea and did the heavy lifting cutting the new trail, which was opened on Swiss Valley's opening day thanks to some natural snow.
Granite Peak's Expansion Plan Approved
And while on the subject of new trails, Granite Peak received some great news a couple of weeks ago - that their expansion proposal with the Wisconsin DNR was approved and will allow for an additional 127 acres to be leased from the state for the expansion of their ski trails along with off-season activities such as mountain biking.
We did a full breakdown video of the proposed expansion a couple of years ago, so be sure to check that out. But we will post an updated video on the new expansion plan in the coming weeks, so be sure to subscribe if you haven't already.
New Ski Area In North Dakota - Thrill Hills
The Midwest ski and snowboard scene added another hill to its list this past month, with Thrill Hills in North Dakota - which welcomed back skiers and snowboarders after nearly a 10-year hiatus. The ski hill, which previously when under the label Bears Den Ski Resort, was purchased by the Billing's family, who grew up skiing at Bears Den years ago. After a couple of years of hard work preparing the ski area, they officially welcomed back skiers and snowboarders on December 28th, marking a new chapter for the hill. According to our count, this addition marks North Dakota's fourth ski area and brings the Midwest to nearly 120 ski areas.
Ken Block Passes Away
And I want to wrap up with some sad news coming out of Utah that action sports icon and co-founder of D.C. Shoes, Ken Block, passed away last week in a snowmobile accident. Ken Block had a massive influence over action sports and the snowboarding community by constantly pushing the limit with creative ideas.
One of my favorite memories of Ken was being in awe over his creation of the D.C. Mountain Lab in the early 2000s. The Lab was something every skier/snowboarder dreamed about as a kid, but Ken made it a reality. Not only that, but it yielded what ended up being my favorite snowboarding movie growing up, and the full video happens to be on youtube; check it out by clicking here. My condolences to the Block family, and thank you, Ken, for inspiring so many of us to follow our passion.
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!