If you’re suffering from “been there, done that” on the slopes, then escape the routine. The region is ripe with events, offbeat twists and turns, and new places to kick back and get some rest.
You don’t even have to leave the city to see New England’s baddest big air event this season. Big Air at Fenway, a US Grand Prix competition Feb. 11-12, 2016, features a collection of the world’s best snowboarders and freeskiers ripping down a 140-foot ramp that’s taller than the outfield lights and ends by home plate. They fly high off the ramp, do their thing, and are scored by judges. Root for champion Vermonters Devin Logan and Ty Walker. The snowboarding is Feb. 11, the skiing Feb. 12. Live bands too. Tickets go on sale at noon on Nov. 12 at www.redsox.com/bigair.
Race through the gates. Dual-style giant slalom recreational race competitions — beer leagues — allow skiers and riders a midweek reason to hit the slopes after work during a multiweek series. Be as serious or relaxed as you and your team want. Tip the starting wand at night Monday-Thursday in the suburbs at Nashoba Valley in Westford with its four-person teams and then watch the race video afterward at the Outlook. In Princeton, Wachusett’s nine-week league consists of four- to six-person squads. Win prizes. Earn bragging rights. Visit www.skinashoba.com and wachusett.com.
Make that drive to Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom and spend the night. Slopeside lodging finally comes to Q Burke in East Burke when the new 116-room Q Burke Hotel and Conference Center opens Dec. 11. The 4,800-square-foot space has studio to three-bedroom suites with various amenities depending on the room, including fireplace, kitchen, and media hub. Through the windows, the ski area and Willoughby Gap are on display. Fine dining is planned for the restaurant while the pub and cafe will be more casual. There’s meeting space and a day lodge to rest up while tackling the 2,000 feet of vertical. Regular season ski and stay rates start at $271 for two adults. Visit www.qburke.com.
Hunker down in a New Hampshire hostel. Budget travelers can do their own cooking and get local intel on trails whether staying in a bunk or private room. The recently renovated White Mountains Hostel (shared room starts at $29, private room $59, www.wmhostel.com), with its touches of Native American-themed art and library in Conway, N.H., is a prime Washington Street base camp for hitting Mount Washington Valley ski areas like Cranmore. The new outdoorsy Notch Hostel (shared room starts at $29.95, private rooms at $59.95, www.notchhostel.com) in North Woodstock on Lost River Road has access to the Interstate 93 side resorts like Loon and Cannon.
Get thee to glades, especially some freshly cut pockets at low-key Mad River Glen in Fayston, Vt. Proud of its paltry 10 percent snowmaking used mainly at lower elevation, high-traffic funnel areas, Mad River’s soulful skiers — snowboards are still verboten — now have more stashes by the single chair’s mid-mountain tower 10 cliff band on both sides of the Lift Line Trail. With a push to making more of the woods accessible to mere mortals, there are expanded glades in the novice Birdland area. Visit www.madriverglen.com.
Go small. Who says a small six-pack can’t create a buzz? The idea behind the $199 MiniMIX Pass is to simplify and save money by offering skiers and riders six days of skiing — or two days each — at a trio of Granite State family-centric ski areas — Pats Peak in Henniker, King Pine in East Madison, and Manchester’s McIntyre. The deal is sweetened by including one snow-tubing session at each resort and having no blackout dates. Another family touch is that $10 from each pass is donated to the nonprofit Animal Rescue League of New Hampshire that helps find homes for dogs, cats, and other small animals. Visit www.skiminimix.com.
Wonder what it would be like to ski Sugarloaf at night? Now’s your chance. For the first time in the history of the Carrabassett Valley, Maine, resort, night skiing comes to the mountain March 11-12, 2016, as part of the fourth annual WinterKids Downhill 24. Temporary lights will be blazing on the lower mountain’s Whiffletree trail during the 24-hour team challenge to raise money for the nonprofit group that helps kids develop healthy habits through education, outdoor winter activities, and fun. Prizes, entertainment, food, and plenty of chairs. Register at www.d24.org.
Killington offers women-only ski camps ($399) Jan. 23-24, Feb. 18-19, and March 19-20 (mogul only). Intermediate level women (ages 18-plus) spend quality hill time with personable 1992 Olympic gold medalist Donna Weinbrecht and the resort’s crack women coaches. Runs that are filmed are studied over lunch. Camaraderie rules. Visit www.killington.com.
Pump up the family’s adrenaline off the well-groomed trails and welcoming lower-level glades at Bretton Woods. Let the kids literally climb the walls on the 30-foot indoor wall in the Bretton Woods Base Lodge in 10-minute sessions for $10. Let them zip around on a snowmobile outside the lodge on weekends and holidays in the Kids Snowmobile Park ($20, 15 minutes, height and weight restrictions). Visit www.brettonwoods.com.Marty Basch can be reached at email@example.com.