For the first time in nearly 90 years, The Middlebury Snowbowl gets night skiing
Of the many ski resorts across Vermont, only a handful offer night skiing.
That list now includes The Middlebury Snowbowl in Hancock, which opens for night skiing for the first time ever, tonight!
To learn more, Vermont Public's Jenn Jarecki sat down to talk with Mike Hussey, the ski areas general manager at Middlebury College. This interview was produced for the ear. We highly recommend listening to the audio. We’ve also provided a transcript, which has been edited for length and clarity.
Jenn Jarecki: So first off, Mike, what will night skiing look like tonight, which trails will be lit up? What can visitors expect?
Mike Hussey: Great question. It's so exciting for us to have this coming on tonight. For night skiing, we're going to run from 4-9 p.m. Tonight, however, the opening night big celebration, we're going to start at five because we need it to be dark for the fireworks and the lights coming on and that piece of it. So, we're going to start night skiing at five, we will be skiing three trails under the Sheehan lift, which is the left side of the mountain as you look at it from the parking lot, the new quad. And it will be the Lang, the Cameron, and the Kelton. And we'll also be skiing on the Discovery Zone, which is the carpet lift down at the base of the mountain.
Jenn Jarecki: And fans of the Snowbowl will see several other changes at the ski area this year. Will you tell us more about those?
Mike Hussey: Absolutely. First and foremost, well certainly the lighting is a huge change for us. The other large addition that is most visible is the replacement of the old Sheehan chair, the double into a fixed grip quad. It's on the same footprint, the exact same lift line, all the components were changed to the new lift, but the lift distance is the same, and the placement is the same. We've also added a new piece of beginner trail in the Discovery Zone, which is true never-ever beginner-type terrain, basically 8% grade, I think that's going to be a real game changer for our learn-to-ski programs. We also put carpet in the lodge, which is a huge thing for us. So, that's a great piece that customers will enjoy. There's also, new reveal, we're working on it this week, we'll be putting up a new roadside sign. We'll be updating our signage along Route 125. So, lots of fun stuff going on.
Jenn Jarecki: Did that just break on Vermont Public, Mike?
Mike Hussey: To the public? Yes, that's a new piece.
Jenn Jarecki: So Mike, you spearheaded efforts to offer night skiing at the Middlebury Snowbowl, and I read in the Middlebury campus paper that this is part of an effort to help you all break even financially. What is Middlebury College's role in operating the Snowbowl?
Mike Hussey: The Snowbowl is owned outright by the college. I am in college employee, as is anybody that works at the Snowbowl. All the work we're doing is in an effort to make the ski areas financially viable, and move forward on their own two feet, so to speak. So, pretty exciting times. There's been a lot of support and backing from the college administration and you know, alumni associations and the whole gamut. You know, there's been some really great support.
Jenn Jarecki: Given financial constraints, why is it important to keep skiing free at the Discovery Center for beginners and adults teaching small kids?
Mike Hussey: The beginner group is the path forward in our industry in our sport. It's really important to get those young people in the new people on snow. So, the ability to do that in a sport that is generally seen as a very expensive sport, to do it inexpensively and make it accessible for all, we feel super important.
What I'm most looking forward to is the smiles on people's faces. That's our job actually, we have the best job in the whole world.Mike Hussey
Jenn Jarecki: So, it sounds like opening night is going to be a very festive affair. You described some of what folks can expect. I'm curious, Mike, what are you most looking forward to about tonight?
Mike Hussey: What I'm most looking forward to is the smiles on people's faces. That's our job actually, we have the best job in the whole world. All we're supposed to do is put smiles on people's faces. And I think this is a huge step towards doing that. We're gonna see a bunch of people that don't get a chance to ski during the week because they're working all day. And they're going to be able to come up and take some runs, and I think that's what I'm really looking forward to, other than the lights actually coming on when we hit the switch and doing all those things that need to happen. But to see the excitement that we've been hearing from people in town actually come to fruition, that's gonna be exciting.
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