Siblings, not twins.
The deal that brought Jay Peak and Burke in Vermont under common-owner partnership was the major resort acquisition of the New England offseason. A key component of the deal will be a $108 million commitment to Burke that will feature an expansion of accommodations (including four mountain lodge facilities), five new gladed trails, and the introduction of an unrestricted season pass to both mountains.
Jay is simultaneously moving ahead with its own $30 million revitalization plan. Two new lifts (a fixed-grip quad over the 720 terrain park and a moving carpet as part of a new dedicated learning area) will go in, and the Sky Haus will be transformed into a 120-seat restaurant. New trails and a hotel complex are slated for the West Bowl. In addition, Jay has cut lift ticket prices across most categories.
Despite the new ties between the two Northeast Kingdom properties, Burke general manager Tim McGuire said not to expect his mountain to turn into “Jay East” any time soon. “We’re not looking to do all the same things — water park, ice arena, golf course — that Jay does. Burke is a little different experience with our own identity. We’re known for racing and a little bit grittier aspect of skiing, and I think it will stay that way.”
Elsewhere in Vermont, Okemo Mountain Resort has cut three new gladed areas, adding 16 acres of tree skiing and riding. Smugglers’ Notch unveils a new glade with a natural-feature terrain park for intermediate and advanced freestyle riders. Stratton Mountain will open a new boardercross course that will host camps with Olympic medalists Ross Powers and Lindsey Jacobellis.
In New Hampshire, Bretton Woods will open lift service to its Mount Stickney area, which sports 30 new acres of glades serviced by a 2,000-foot T-bar. The glades will include wide-open swaths for those just learning how to weave through the trees and some steeper drop-offs for more seasoned skiers and riders. Cranmore Mountain Resort replaced its historic East Double Chair with a triple chairlift, adding 300 feet of vertical drop to the southern slopes and providing access to the summit of the mountain. Loon Mountain is putting in a pair of new terrain parks built specifically for families. McIntyre Ski Area has added a new all-terrain park.
Gaining groundThe multi-phase, offseason expansions at corporate partners Sugarloaf and Sunday River continue to dominate capital improvement news out of Maine. Sugarloaf reports that with more than 300 acres of new terrain opened over the past several years in the Brackett Basin and Burnt Mountain areas, it officially makes Sugarloaf “the largest ski area east of the Rocky Mountains.” Brackett Basin specializes in what is branded as “sidecountry” or “slackcountry” skiing — essentially a wilderness experience with lift service. Over the summer the glade crew continued expansion into the Burnt Mountain woods. Once that phase is complete, Sugarloaf will (over several years) open an additional 250 acres over the north face. Sunday River tree skiers will gain 10 acres of new terrain, with the bulk of that expansion on the Enchanted Forest glade, which will cater to intermediates . . . For big-air enthusiasts, Mount Sunapee, Shawnee Peak, and Wachusett Mountain all will debut new freestyle air-cushion bags, allowing skiers and riders to practice safer jumping while honing new tricks.
Three of the longest-running and most popular “cross” events at ESPN’s X Games — Snowboarder X, Skier X, and Mono Skier X — were axed over the summer from the Jan. 24-27, 2013, competition. The “boarder cross” had been a staple of the programming since the first X Games in 1997. “We understand the ramifications these things bring,” said Tim Reed, senior director of content strategy for ESPN X Games. “We come up with what we believe are the best events to showcase to our fans on-site and obviously the networks, too.”