CRAFTSBURY – Jack Young seeks out snow in November, but not just any snow. Jack, from Jay, is a second-year student at Colby College and has a shot to be one of the top 20 cross country skiers in the Northeast. Finding smooth trails to ski on is important for training at this time of year. It’s also fun.
Hundreds of skiers came to the Craftsbury Outdoor Center for opening weekend from skiers like Young to local residents Elinor Osborn (Albany) and Eric Remick (Hardwick). Feeling the sensation of gliding on the snow through the trees is addictive and refreshing. Alpine skiers, snowboarders, and snowmobilers all know that feel and it is why so many people look forward to winter. Despite having September weather in early November, the switch to winter arrived quickly. The region was blessed with a good, heavy wet natural snowfall allowing for several miles of trails to be packed for skiing.
The Craftsbury Outdoor Center, however, tries to provide some skiing by Thanksgiving, even if mother nature does not cooperate, by storing snow all summer in a pit covered by nearly two feet of wood chips. This is the fourth year of trying this “old school” method of storing snow. Think of the icehouses of old, which allowed people to have refrigeration during the summer months. It’s the same concept. There is enough stored snow to cover about a mile of trail and, by this past weekend, skiers could ski out and back on the Lemon’s Haunt trail for some early season skiing on a 20 foot wide, one-foot thick swath of snow. Many ski teams stayed in the area to take advantage of the early snow including those from Middlebury College, UVM, Bowdoin College, the Dublin School, and Mansfield Nordic Ski Club. More teams arrive this week for the Thanksgiving break.
The Craftsbury Green Racing Project, our local professional ski team, is getting in a week of on-snow training before heading out to SilverStar Mountain Resort in British Columbia for the first SuperTour races of season. The top finishers in this series move on to the U.S. Ski Team. But it’s not just racers out there skiing. People like Elinor and Eric are just happy for the change of pace and putting those skis back on.
Young, who grew up skiing in Craftsbury with the local ski club, is putting in his ski hours now in hope of skiing really fast come January, when the college races begin. More importantly, he gets to enjoy a weekend at home skiing with friends and family.