Catskill Double Play: Windham and Hunter

This season Mother Nature has slowed us all down to some extent. But this week it wasn’t really the weather holding me back — I have Gore-tex hard shells, soft shells, and RAIN-X on my windshield. The real issue has been the hesitance of northeastern resorts to commit to all-in snowmaking in the face of a warm, wet forecast.

On Tuesday night, a quick surf of the web revealed that Windham was offering the greatest number of open expert trails in the Catskills. I hadn’t skied there in a few years, and wanted to get back to the hill.

I skated up to the Whirlwind Quad and said good morning to a welcoming liftie. There weren’t any lines and I was so jazzed to be skiing that I didn’t buckle my boots until I arrived at the top. Skiers were already making their way down, carving turns, and ripping.

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Adjusting to Ski Rocker Technology

Many skiers don’t know that ski instructors take clinics themselves. In fact, PSIA instructors are required to take clinics to maintain their certifications. Last week, I had the privilege of participating in a Mini-Academy at Killington, which is offered to Level 3 certified instructors and led by a member of PSIA’s Demonstration Team.

Mike Hafer PSIA Demo Team Member in the bumps at Killington

The demo team is comprised of the top teachers in the country, as established by a week-long competition held at Snowbird once every four years. These try-outs are like an episode of “Survivor.” Instructors are run through an endless series of ski drills until only the best remain. In addition, instructors have to complete a series of indoor and on-snow presentations to ensure that only the best teachers and communicators make the team.

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Hunter Mountain, NY: 12/11/11

Catskill starts are early for me, and this morning was no exception. I’d set the alarm for 4:30 with the intention of meeting Xman at our regularly designated spot. The Sheraton in Mahwah is well known by skiers for its spacious parking lot strategically placed at the NY/NJ border. I arrived before day break at 6:15 am.

Mahwah Sheraton

X was a few minutes late, but I wasn’t the slightest bit concerned. He takes his driving very seriously, and we arrived at Hunter at 8am. As we pulled in, the base was underneath a cloud of manmade snow.

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