Snow Bowl Gets Funding for New Bunny Hill

Young skiers take advantage of the Snow Bowl’s skiing lessons and the new bunny hill. (Courtesy of Middlebury College)

Young skiers take advantage of the Snow Bowl’s skiing lessons and the new bunny hill. (Courtesy of Middlebury College)

By Liia Koiv-Haus

Over the past few years, the Snow Bowl has gone through some dramatic renovations, both in facilities and policy. Though the unpredictable weather during this current ski season has required skiers and boarders to adapt to a variety of snow conditions, the weather now is providing excellent conditions for Snow Bowl goers.

“We’ve had ups and downs in terms of weather but are experiencing the best conditions of the season right now!” said Snow Bowl Manager Peter Mackey this past weekend.

Beyond the revamping of Worth Mountain chair in 2010, there has also been the recent addition of a magic carpet for beginner skiers — thanks to a generous gift from two families who have been long-time supporters of the Snow Bowl. Officially called the “SunKid Wonder Carpet,” this contraption consists of a conveyor belt with 10 speeds that transports skiers and boarders to the top of a “bunny slope.”

According to Snow School Director Susan Davis, the carpet is “a huge asset in promoting more practice time on true beginner terrain.” While in the past all beginner trails required a chairlift to access, now young beginner skiers can ride the Wonder Carpet within clear view of parents. General consensus is that the terrain serviced by the Wonder Carpet is more manageable than that of other “beginner” trails at the Snow Bowl.

Some say that the terrain at the Snow Bowl is one step more challenging than that of other popular ski resorts in the area like Okemo and Killington.

According to Susan Davis, “our beginner ‘Green Circle’ trails accessed off our two front side chairlifts are often described as having more of a ‘Blue Square’ intermediate character.”

Though there are no double black diamond trails at the Snow Bowl, the single-diamond and tree trails provide enough of a challenge for even expert skiers.

Tree skiing at the Snow Bowl, when sufficient powder allows it, is “some of the best in Vermont, especially with the new boundary-to-boundary policy,” said Ski School Instructor Grace Donovan ’13.5 of Enterprise, Ore.

The new “boundary-to-boundary” policy, adopted last year, permits skiing and boarding anywhere through the woods as long as skiers and riders proceed at their own risk. Just this past year a complementary safety policy was implemented that mandates wearing a helmet for all Snow Bowl staff and patrons.

Due to the erratic weather this season, including rapid changes from 50-degree weather and rain to below-freezing temperatures, conditions at the bowl have at times become dangerous.

The first week of winter term, after a snowstorm that had produced ideal powder skiing conditions, Avery Shawler ’13 took on the terrain at the Snow Bowl without fear. The weather had resulted in hidden patches of ice, however, and Showler experienced a fall that left her with a minor concussion.

“I don’t remember the accident or evacuation at all since the concussion caused some short-term memory loss, but I do remember the doctor showing me the dent in the front of my helmet when I was in the emergency room. He told me that if I not been wearing a helmet I might have suffered permanent brain damage.”

While changes to the Snow Bowl’s physical and social climate have indeed taken place, certain annual events rooted in tradition live on. The torch light parade over February break remains a highlight of the ski season, and “Fun Day,” on Saturday March 30, when everyone dresses up in vintage ski clothing, is a day not to miss. Winter term student lessons, at five for just $50, and a student season’s pass for $160 are prices unrivaled by other Vermont ski areas.