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    Growth spurt for Pats Peak

    Pats Peak has been known as a small but scrappy family-run ski area for 50 years. But this week, the Henniker, N.H., resort announced plans for a multiyear growth spurt aimed at bumping up both acreage and trail count while remaining true to the mountain’s core customer group of novice and intermediate skiers.

    A three-year expansion project dubbed “Operation Cascade Basin” will begin this summer, highlighted by the installation of a high-capacity triple chairlift to service six new trails and glades in a section of the mountain not previously open to skiing. The 20 acres of new terrain will offer easterly exposure, and one of the glades will be situated in a spot that can be covered by snowmaking. Earlier this season, Pats Peak offered a glimpse of the future with the debut of the intermediate Backdraft run on the periphery of the trail network (to a skier’s right off the summit).

    “We’ve experienced tremendous growth over the last few years and we wanted to do something to give back to our guests,” said general manager Kris Blomback. “It’s very important to keep our product exciting and fresh. Opportunities available in the future in the new area include the possibility of an additional terrain park as well as expanded night skiing.”


    Four of the new trails are expected to be ready for the 2013-14 season, and customers will have a say in naming them via social media contests.

    UVM repeat?

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    The University of Vermont won’t have to travel far in an effort to defend its 2012 NCAA skiing championship. Middlebury College hosts this year’s finals March 6-9, with the Alpine races at the Middlebury College Snow Bowl in Hancock and Nordic events at the Rikert Nordic Center in Ripton. All events are free and open to the public.

    The NCAA championships alternate between Eastern and Western venues, and hosts are selected based on a bidding system. Middlebury last hosted the NCAA finals in 2001, and both the Alpine (widening of trails) and Nordic (creation of a new 5K homologated loop) courses have been renovated since then in an effort to host another national championship.

    Last year, the Catamounts racked up 832 points, the most ever by an NCAA champion, winning by a record 161 points over Utah at Bridger Bowl in Bozeman, Mont.

    Steals and deals

    Starting this week, Okemo offers two-for-one pricing for Thursday tickets when purchased online and in advance . . . Sugarbush now sells $30 Thursday tickets that are valid for the Mt. Ellen side of the resort only . . . Wildcat and Attitash are both bringing back $40 Friday pricing through the end of the season, starting this week . . . Mount Snow features $29 “Sunday Sleeper” tickets valid from 12-4 p.m. (you can upgrade to extra savings with a $99 four-pack) . . . Vermont Town Meeting Day on the first Tuesday in March means no school for kids, so Mad River Glen will roll out its annual “kids ski free” promotion March 5 . . . Shawnee Peak has $19 tickets valid all day and night on March 8, provided you purchase before 11 a.m. at the mountain and show proof of New England residency . . . Shawnee also hosts its annual blood drive March 10; anyone who signs up in advance to donate a pint gets rewarded with a voucher for one free midweek lift ticket good for the rest of the season.