Last week’s trivia asked about the latest closing date for Stowe Mountain Resort. According to the MMSC timeline, that would be May 2, 1983. As you might expect MMSC historian Mike Leach had that answer. He says he found it in a history timeline for the Mount Mansfield Company. And while that only went up to the early 1980s he didn’t believe any season since then had beaten it. Similarly I heard from Norma Stancliffe who recalled skiing into early May once and Lyndall Heyer who thought it had been in the early 1980s. One thing’s for sure, this season won’t be a candidate for an extended closing date!

We’re completing our second COVID ski season. The good news is that we were able to ski and we made it through the season without COVID interrupting operations. So I thought I’d make some comments about the season.

First, my compliments to the Stowe Mountain Resort staff and Vail for their handling of the COVID precautions, particularly their enforcement of facial coverings in the lift lines. It was appreciated.

Second, the overall organization of the lift lines was well managed. Did the Quad line remind anyone else of the days of the old single and double chairs? The line for those chairs fed from the same side and quite often would get backed up to where this year’s lines began. That’s where the similarities end however.  This year’s lines were generally well-mannered and managed. The old corral was a free-for-all where the goal was to improve your position! Tempers often flared and yes, even some actual fights broke out.

Speaking of lines, how about those midweek lines? My wife and I only skied midweek this season, but that didn’t mean we avoided the lines! Obviously there was more to the lines than just the reduced lift capacity due to COVID. There were definitely more people skiing midweek. I’m really interested in seeing if next season this trend will continue. Without COVID it shouldn’t be as busy, but did some people decide they don’t always have to ski on weekends? By the way, the midweek crowds didn’t extend to all ski areas. Reports from Jay, Smuggs, Sugarbush, and Bolton indicate that Stowe was the exception.

Not surprisingly the midweek increase meant we saw some new clientele. They were easy to identify because their habits were different than the regulars. For example, they had an attraction to the bumps on skiers’ right of Liftline from Haychute. I’ve never seen so many make that choice versus the often groomed swath or the usually softer bumps on skiers’ left.

And then there was their choice of stopping places. I’ve complained about this ever since the Vail acquisition. However this year the upper turns of Nose Dive seemed to be plagued with people who didn’t know the stopping places. So how many stopping places should there be between the start of Nose Dive and Rim Rock? The most popular one is on the right turn just before Rim Rock. And I could also accept the left turn before that, but on the edge of the trail not in the trail. Suffice it to say there were a lot of people anywhere but those two spots, including in the often icy, narrow chute segment! Just for the record, for several years my first stop is below Rim Rock after the trail widens out.

Oh, and before I forget, I want to thank the resort for returning Tyro to a regular ski trail! It skied well all season and looks like it will right to closing!

So to wrap-up this Retro-Ski season I’ll repeat the vow I made at the end of last season. I will appreciate every day on the slopes. Yes, even when the conditions are “machine groomed!” I will cherish sitting down with friends in the Octagon! And I will treasure the memories skiing has provided for me. We’ll see you next ski season!