Jay Peak, VT: 4/21/11

The kids were up at 6, ready to go. You’d think that with a season of real early mornings and real late nights, a guy in the ski industry could sleep in because someone else is taking care of everything, but not in this family — it was time for first tracks.

Midwinter conditions and snow at Jay today. Very windy, all high-speed lifts were closed including the tram. We all stepped out of the condo and yarned back on the bridal as the sub freezing temps hit us like a ton of bricks. We layered up and prepared ourselves for a mid-winter day. We skied down to the base lodge alongside the magic carpet.

I wanted so badly to grab a bagel and a cup of coffee, only to find out that all the high-speed lifts and tram were on wind hold. It snowed all day. We ended up skiing the triple, which doesn’t go all the way to the top, but made the best of it nevertheless.

You had to stay on the groomers because anything else was solid ice. It was great, but we weren’t prepared. The lift ride was cold and it kept slowing down because the wind was blowing down the safety bars on the return side. The runs down were fantastic and I can’t believe how much snow they have up here. There was none on the drive up. You have to believe. The woods are all in play. During the day, we received at least 2″ and if you skied lightly, you could stay on top of it and not carve through to the ice.

After a late lunch, we hit the Ice Haus arena to play some hockey and do some skating. It was a deal I made with the kids to make this trip instead of a beach somewhere, which is what Danielle really wanted. There is a beach in our future sometime this spring/summer. But for now, spring can wait; we ski.

We ripped it up on the ice in the arena and our skills were beginner level compared to the local kids who skated circles around us, literally. We were skating with the local Vermont state championship junior team of 2011, and they asked us if we wanted to have a game. I laughed and told them I haven’t been on skates in 30 years and I’m out, but I would like to take their picture. One of those kids is a girl.

While leaving the rink, a local was walking us out with his family and the snow outside was blizzard-like and he swore we would be getting 7-10 tonight, which I believe, it was snowing so hard. He said he spoke with a buddy of his in Montreal and they got hammered there today and it was coming this way. Regardless, we are getting accumulating snow and there will be POW tomorrow morning and I’ll be on the first tram.

A bunch of people acknowledged us today, not knowing who we were, just simply paying homage to the logo on my hat with a thumbs up or a “Yeah Plattekill!” It’s cool that we have at least a little name recognition at a place like Jay, who we look up to with great respect and admiration. More on that later, and I will comment on Jamesdeluxe’s questions at a later point, because he brings up some very good issues as does Harv. I have Tram Envy.

There seems to be an underlying theme here, a mantra of sorts, that is, if you build it they will come, and I love it. I wish I could be it, but I just need the dough, the partner, the financial resources to get it off the ground, like Bill Stenger found in his partner. More on that later too.

There are locals who were pissed off about the new hotel, the RFID ticketing, the water park, tearing down the old hotel. They think Jay is going downhill fast and it’s becoming another cookie-cutter resort, but I disagree. This is business. The bills have to be paid and they’re not being paid by those who are complaining. People are acknowledging the changes by using them and the resort is paying the bills.

I think that Jay embodies the old with the new in a great way. It embodies the essence of classic hardcore skiing with a classy feeling in all that’s been built. I am really enjoying being here and see myself saying more often than not, that we could do this, and if there is any resort I would like to become in the future, Jay is it. I just need to find the seed cash. But it will come, and if you build it, they will come.

Tomorrow’s weather looks perfect with sun and 50 degrees. Plenty of snow though everywhere, including the trees. We were looking at them with much anticipation. Pardon my brevity, but I had to do this on a phone since we don’t have a strong enough WiFi signal in our condo to use the laptop. Laszlo.

11 comments on “Jay Peak, VT: 4/21/11

  1. “The new hotel, the RFID ticketing, the water park, tearing down the old hotel, there are a lot of locals who were pissed off and think that Jay is going downhill fast and that it’s becoming another cookie-cutter resort, but I disagree.”

    Did you actually speak with any locals that expressed that sentiment, and if so how many? Or is that conjecture? Just curious as I have not heard as much grumbling as I thought I might. A lot of "locals" stand to or already are benefiting financially from the expansion. And many of the die hard Jay skiers know that the place's infrastructure needed a face lift, practically if not to stay competitive.

    Quite a good article considering it was done on a phone!!

  2. I seem to notice that in that picture Danielle is still wearing rental boots. Get that lady her own… Cobbler's family shouldn't go without shoes. Or in this case ski boots….

  3. I find your perspective (as an owner) on “build it and they will come” interesting, and (for me) educational. I’m a life long skier at Greek Peak. GP is currently (i’m sure you’re aware) in the process of doing just that, “build it and they will come.” We now have new hotel, indoor waterpark, conference center and all that comes with it. Right now construction has been started on the new Adventure center, climbing walls, mountain roller coaster, zip lines and all that jazz. All this is great, but the ski center is lacking. Old lifts, old snow making, run down facilities and trail potential that hasn’t even been touched. I understand it’s biz, but to me it seems GP has forgotten what has gotten them where they are, and IMO, it’s the skiing….not the olive oil and pimento loaf facial scrub. I guess I’m one of those locals who is, well, pissed. I see GP getting tax breaks and mine keep going up, coincidence?? I think not. All that said, I truly hope when the capitol starts rolling in (I hope they make millions) that the money is put back into the hill…then I’ll be happy. Until then the chip on my shoulder will remain.

  4. Anyone else notice that ski areas seem to be technophobic? Weak wifi? Come on…affluent skiers bring with them a need to communicate while on vacation. Same BS at Stratton where “wifi works in the lobby” or Gore where they charge for wifi and probably make a trivial amount of money.

  5. Hickorymartha and I ran into Laszlo and Matt at the top of the tram yesterday. How’d we know? Who else would be wearing a Plattekill vest at Jay on April 22. It was a blue bird soft spring corn fest, with 3 inches of new buttery snow on top. We skied alot of the glades and tree shots. Almost everything is stil open. Wow there’s still alot of snow up here.

  6. These are priceless reports. Hopefully everybody will have a better understanding that skiing is a business.

  7. “Midwinter conditions” in April, typical. Laszlo and family had what we regulars like call a “Welcome to Jay Peak!” kind of day. Kind of like when Harv turned to Steve and I on the Flyer and, shouting above the wind, exclaimed: “this is brutal!” No, Harvey, we explained, this is cold, but it ain’t brutal yet. Great reports and I am looking forward to the next installment!

  8. Nice report! I go up to that region year round, and most of the locals I talk to are glad to see the development going on there – there is a need to draw more tourists to the region, plus, the skiing itself isn’t being altered. The RFID system had a few bugs to work out but it does help prevent fraud. A suggestion would be to use self serve kiosks to reload tickets, as the ticket booth can have a long line with the new system. Glad to hear they’ll be going into May!

  9. Laszlo, I’ve never skied Jay, but I believe that they focus on the backcountry crowd. They advertise, for instance, in Backcountry Magazine. Now, turning to Plattekill, I wonder if it could add some of that. I’m an AT skier. And I adore skiing Plattekill. I wonder if Plattekill could add (or advertise) some so-called “side country” terrain or otherwise try to create a Catskills hub for backcountry. I have a few ideas; let me know if you’re interested.

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