Northern Michigan Skiing: The 2012 Michigan Ski Buzz
Boyne Mountain: Replaced carpet, paint and décor in rooms at the Clock Tower Lodge. New PistenBully groomer, 400 pair of Head Link rental skis—designed with early rise in tip and tail to enhance turning prowess.
Boyne Highlands: New PistenBully groomer, 400 pair of Head Link rental skis (matches the Boyne Mountain set).
Caberfae Peaks: Added 22 snowguns. Widening the Smiling Irishmen run. Added 400 pairs of Rossignol rental skis. Also new boots and Rossignol snowboards. Also expanding Beaties’s Bar and Grill.
Crystal Mountain Resort: New quad lift constructed so skiers can pass under. Recontouring Loki (black diamond hill) for a more consistent downhill run (eliminate a slow spot), also adding snowmaking to same. All new rental gear from Head and new rental process to speed things up.
Homestead Resort: Nonna’s, the resort’s fine dining room, received fresh décor, a captain’s table and new facilities for cooking classes. Also spruced up CQ’s Cabin (cafeteria) and remodeled the general store—all part of the ski village. New salon for hair and nails.
Nub’s Nob: 11 snow guns added. Enhanced the race training course, new last season, with slopeside tents for warming and video review. Removed super-pipe. Added new hill groomer and all new rentals.
Shanty Creek Resorts: Adding two new runs off the Red lift. Relocating academy to better terrain for improved instruction. Expanding terrain park features (seven new rails, lots more). Plus more runs in the Natty Park. $15/day lift ticket on Summit Mountain.
Ski Cheap, Buy Now!
The best time to buy a season pass: last spring. The next best time: right now. The season pass world can be a crazy complex maze of possibilities that goes way beyond our space to present. So here’s a snapshot: the unlimited season pass adult price plus a deal we like at each resort. Check the respective resort websites for a look at all the options. Upshot: skiing and riding is less expensive than you think.
Boyne (good at Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands): Frequent skier/rider deal: $95 and you ski free January 2–7 and March 20–25. Also $25 discount on Monday–Friday lift tickets and $15 discount on Saturday and Sunday tickets. (Many Boyne passes offer deals at sister resorts out East and West.) boyne.com
Caberfae: Peak Pass (adult unlimited) $198. Weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) pass: $99. Prices increase Oct. 31. caberfaepeaks.com
Crystal Mountain: The Crystal Premier Pass (adult unlimited) $369. The Pick-A-Day Pass: choose the day of the week (Saturdays excluded) you want to ski all season, $159. crystalmountain.com
Nub’s Nob: Adult unlimited $585. The Bargain Season Ticket: $266, each week ski either one full day or two 4-hour periods; Saturdays excluded from January 2 thru March 12. nubsnob.com
Shanty Creek Resorts: Adult Unlimited: $309, price increases October 17. Sunday-only pass: $159. shantycreek.com
Treetops Resort: Buy at least three season passes (anybody in group, not just family) and pay $122 for each. Price increases October 16. Student pass: achieve a GPA in first marking period of 3.0–3.5 and get a season pass for $75. GPA of 3.5 or better pays just $35. (The kicker: if you’ve already bought a season pass at $122, you score a rebate if you get the grades.) treetops.com
What’s the most exciting change on the ski and snowboard scene this year?
Olympic organizers just allowed slope style snowboarding as a medaled game. They’ve had half-pipe and super-pipe, but this is a first for the boxes, rails and jumps. It will be the first time those athletes will be tested on the world stage for their creativity and athleticism. And that genre can be applied just as well on our 500-foot hills as it can on a 2,000-foot mountain. The Olympics will certainly give that area of the hill more energy and focus.
So you removed your super-pipe this year—what’s that about?
We were the first to put one in and won a lot of awards for it, but the super-pipe can be a challenging thing for a resort. It’s such a difficult thing to do, the technique and athleticism required … very few people can do that, and we found it just was not being utilized. I also want to say more power to Otsego Club for their super-pipe [which has attracted Olympic competitors from around the globe]. I hope that works for them and I think that’s great.
Every business talks about getting a piece of the baby boomer market—how is that working out for ski resorts?
We continue to see the baby boomers show up with their children and their children’s children in tow. Baby boomers continue to participate in outdoor activity like skiing and snowboarding. Maybe they are focused on a use it or lose it way of living. More of them are staying in shape, staying active. And advances in ski equipment in last few years, especially the shaped ski revolution and now the rocker design, allow people to not embarrass themselves on the race course and have a blast on groomed snow.
Helmet: Expect: Better comfort (super soft liners). Warmer warmth (leave the hat in the room). Adjustable fit means elimination of gaps and improved protection for your noggin. New slippery liners reduce impacts from twisting forces in addition to traditional protection from direct force. Integrated fit with goggles means less cold and wind and less fogging. Oh yea, think you’re too cool to wear a helmet because you’re a grownup? You’re not. Pictured: Giro Ember.
Boot: Better fits than ever make sure all the force you apply through your foot is applied to the ski when and where you want it. Boot devotees are watching Fischer’s new Vacuum boot, which are custom-fitted to your foot using air pressure and a moldable liner—perfect fit is the goal. Best instant improvement you can retrofit to any boot: a custom-shaped (molded to your foot) sole insert—all racers have them. Pictured: Fischer Vacuum.
Board: Rocker design began with snowboards and continues to dominate design. Riders have come to love the way rocker lets them get into and out of turns easier and quicker. Designers are now tweaking the rocker for specific snow conditions and skill levels. Word is rocker is like power steering in a car. Beyond that, expect tougher finish surfaces so your board stays shiny and unchipped and materials that make boards ever-lighter and more responsive. Pictured: Atomic Banger.
Ski: The rocker design (aka reverse camber) is finding wide application as ski makers roll it out through entire lines. Paired with shaped-ski designs, the rocker is making skiing more fun, more doable, more right-now for more people. Think instant gracefulness, especially for all those baby boomers who are returning (or dreaming of returning) to the slopes after a long hiatus (you know who you are). Pictured: Volkl RTM 84 or RTM 80.
Watch a slideshow of hot new ski and snowboard jackets for the 2012 ski season!
The Form: Vibrant Possibilities
Fabric technology allows for dyes that are more colorful and more permanent, so naturally designers are happy to run with it. On the hill and in the ski haus this season, look for bright greens, blues and oranges in bold sections of color—solids, squares, trapezoids, and the occasional swirling graphic. A key difference is rather than designs being screened onto a base, many can be woven from the fabric itself. Also, waterproof/breathable fabric is becoming stretchier, allowing women’s lines in particular to move toward a more form-fitting, Euro cut. The evolution is most notable in snowboard wear, which for women has long been influenced by the boxier men’s cuts.
The Function: What you want and why.
Winter temps in Northern Michigan are relatively warm, very often around the freezing/melting point, which means two things for the jacket and pant department: Melting snow gets you wet from outside and sweat gets you wet inside. The lesson is get the best quality waterproof-breathable fabric you can afford. GoreTex remains the gold standard, but good, less expensive alternatives exist, like Patagonia H2No, Helly Hansen HellyTech XP, and Mountain Hardwear Conduit. For full waterproofing, all seams (not just the most exposed ones) should be taped or thermo-welded and zippers should be covered by fabric. Quality hill attire has powder gaiters at wrists, waist and ankles to keep snow out. You want to freely move your arms: get radial-cut shoulders for unrestricted arm movement. Layering is always the best outdoor dressing approach: look for removable liners—some jackets have two, mesh and insulated. Pockets: the more the merrier.