Updated: Jan 7, 2022
You might have noticed we took a little holiday break here at Midwestskiers.com, but we are happy to be back and hope all of you had a great holiday season!
This season the Midwest has been off to a pretty slow start. But, it seems like other Nature is finally starting to cooperate. We had skiing and riding at over 80 different resorts the past couple of weeks, which is impressive given the harsh December weather we had - especially in the lower parts of the Midwest.
And I once again want to thank all those ski area workers out there who are doing everything they can to get us and keep us on snow - despite this year, let's say, challenging weather.
A Promising Extended Forecast
The good news is that this past weekend took the polar plunge. Temperatures across the Midwest have been well below freezing over the last several days, including New Year's Day when it reached a record-breaking -37 degrees at Grand Forks International airport.
The even better news is the extended forecast suggests that winter may finally be here to stay. So this will likely mean that throughout this week and into the weekend, we will begin to see ski areas open up most if not all of our terrain. But this isn't the case for everyone.
The UP Finally Getting Some Snow
The UP has been especially hit hard for the second straight season with a significant lack of natural snow. As a result, many resorts were forced to push back their opening dates, but they may finally be getting some relief. A storm is forecasted to bring upwards of a foot of snow that will run through the end of this week.
Depending on how this storm plays out, some resorts, such as Mt. Bohemia, may be ready to open for this weekend - which will be welcome news to those up in the UP.
UPDATE: Most placed in the UP received well over a foot of snow, and Mount Bohemia and Porkies will be opening for the season this Saturday, January 8th.
The Midwest's New Chairlifts Are Spinning
And speaking of welcome news - we are starting to see the Midwest's new chairlifts in action. A couple of weeks ago, Welch Village fired up their brand new quad back, and of course, I had to snag the first chair!
Devils' head has also been spinning their new lift over the past few weeks, and Great Bear Ski Valley's new lift welcomed its first passengers this past week as well. In addition, we have heard a rumor that Trollhaugen could have their new lift running sometime next week so keep an eye out on their social media pages for that. Pretty awesome to s e these off-season improvements in full swing… or should I say full spin….
Anyways if you haven't seen our rope report covering the six new lifts the Midwest will be getting for next season - click here to get caught up.
Some Midwest Resorts Are Selling Out
Over the holiday season - a few different resorts across the Midwest have sold out for tickets. And this is a good reminder that if you are planning on visiting one of the major resorts over a holiday weekend, make sure to buy your tickets in advance. Not only will you save money - but you will also guarantee yourself a lift ticket.
Please do not buy any tickets outside of an official ski resort. Most of these are scams, and even if they did have lift tickets to sell, almost every ski area in the Midwest prohibits the reselling of lift tickets. So do yourself a favor, buy in advance or have a backup plan just in case.
The Merry Mitten Classic Makes A Return
The Merry Mitten Classic made a return to Pine Knob and Alpine Valley - Michigan a couple of weeks ago. Pine Knob held the park jam on December 21st, and slalom was the following day at Alpine Valley - MI.
The legendary Danny Davis started this event, and this Michigan native has won countless superpipe medals and took tenth place in the 2014 Winter Olympics. Danny grew up in Highland Township, Michigan, just minutes from Alpine Valley. I love seeing Midwest-born pros returning home, giving back to their local hills, and stoking that Midwest fire.
Vail Under Some Heat From Passholders
And speaking of fire - Vail has been catching a lot of that over the past couple of weeks. It all started with a petition labeled "Hold Vail Resorts Accountable," which was created in response to what the writer called the mismanagement of Stevens Pass.
The petition expresses concern over the extremely long lift lines, lack of staffing, limited terrain, and overselling pass, among other things. This petition caught a lot of attention over the past couple of weeks, gaining over 30,000 signatures, and concerns are going much deeper than just Stevens Pass. Many from the Midwest have been concerned over the limited hours, passive snowmaking attitude, and long lift lines, and they wouldn't be out of line.
Snow Creek announced this week that they would only be operating three days per week this season, and the rest of the Vail own resorts have extremely restricted hours - offering no midweek morning sessions and some no night skiing on the weekends.
This season has been a perfect storm for Vail Resorts. Last season they dropped epic pass prices by 20% and ended up selling over 70% more than the previous year. Then, they entered a massive labor shortage, all while experiencing one of the slowest winter starts that we have seen in a while. But should Vail have been more prepared for this, or is this just something out of their control? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Paula Moltzan Takes 20th With Broken Wrist
Paula Moltzan was the top skier for the American women's team during the salom event in Austria last week. Paula took 20th, but there's a lot more to that finish. That's because Paul skied both runs with a fractured wrist.
Paula discovered that she had fractured her wrist after a race the previous week and taped her pole to her hand, and skied some of her most aggressive runs of the season to take 20th place. #MidwestTough
The Chuck Stone Memorial Race
And speaking of Buck Hill Racing Team alumni, a couple of them took home the overall victory in the Chuck Stone memorial race held during Christmas week. Tommy Anderson and Nellie Ide took home the overall win in this iconic Midwest event. For those unaware, The Chuck Stone Memorial is a race held every year during the Christmas break and is always host to some fantastic skiing.
Many of the Buck Hill Racing Team's alumni are back home on break from college racing - so you could imagine the field is filled with some talent. The race itself is named in honor of Chuck Stone, who, along with his wife Nancy, started Buck Hill back in 1954. If you want to learn more about their story, check out our video highlighting Buck Hill's history by clicking here.
Midwest Ski Companies Offering Demo Days
Two great Midwest ski companies announced some demo dates at resorts across the Midwest. Last week, Shaggy's visited Granite Peak, Christie Mountain, and Big Powderhorn. If you're sad you missed them, don't be because they constantly add more dates as the season chugs along. Click here for Shaggy's demo schedule.
BPM skis, located in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, has some upcoming demo dates, including Big Powderhorn on January 15th, Tyrol Basin on January 29th, and Whitecap Mountains on February 12th. Click here for BPM's demo schedule.
Owner Of Swiss Valley Passes Away
We have some sad news to report from Michigan, as Jim Wiseman - the owner of Swiss Valley, passed away last week. Jim was extremely influential in the growth and development of Swiss Valley from the day he purchased the resort back in 1968.
One of the most notable improvements was spending the entire summer of 1978 moving over 1.5 million cubic yards of soil to install their first chairlift, the triple. Jim would spend 53 seasons improving Swiss Valley and has played such a massive role in growing our sport, especially in southern Michigan.
Our deepest condolences to the Wiseman and Swiss Valley family, and if you are out skiing this week, make sure you take a lap for Jim!
A Nutty Story From Ski Brule
And I want to wrap up with a strange, funny, and sort of confusing story coming from Ski Brule. Ski Brule posted a story about a skier that mentioned they had cut their day early because their feet were hurting so badly throughout the day. When he took his boots off, a few acorns fell out well. It's no wonder his boots were driving him nuts… I guess it just nut his day... Oh, come on, these jokes aren't that acorny…
But there you have it, your fix of Midwest ski news from the past couple of weeks. If you want to check out the last episode, we will drop a link below. But until next time, I hope all of you have a happy new year, pray for snow, and I'll see you guys out there!