The Best Cat-Skiing in the East
Married on the Mountain
Backcountry for the Kids
Your Mountain Your Valley
Exploring Sugarbush and the Mad River Valley
Fractional ownership available
Breaking Trail The revolutionary Mountaineering Blazers program instills kids with much more than just backcountry skills. By SARAh TuFF
Family Ties Celebrating their families and their connection to the mountain was the focal point of Maggie and Christian’s Sugarbush wedding. By CoRi RuSSell
d e pa r t M 4 InsIde LInes 6 MountaIn LIvIng
After living in mountain towns across the country, Mary “Bear” Simmons and her family settled in the Mad River Valley.
The quirky architects of Prickly Mountain build their aweinspiring Fourth of July floats with a healthy dose of spontaneity.
pubLIsher Jessica Kaiser edItorIaL editorial Director Ryan Brandt Managing editor Catherine Shane research & Copy editor Joni lacroix editorial & Production Coordinator Gretchen heilshorn
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(Sculpture) Glenn Moody photoGraphy; (FaMily) Sandy MacyS
650 islington Street Portsmouth, Nh 03801 603.610.0533
10 arts & CuLture
Creative samplings from the Art in the Big Red Barn event.
12 MountaIn tIMe
© hawthorn Publications 2009
28 sugarbush CLose-up
oN The CoVeR: Mary “Bear” Simmons hits a line of bumps on Ripcord. Photo by Sandy Macys.
All rights reserved.
The mountain’s new cabin cat gets you some incredible fresh tracks.
Resort and mountain details to help shape your visit.
hen i was at Amherst College in 1969, a group of us used to travel to the Mad River Valley for ski weekends. even though i was just a beginner then, i loved every moment on the slopes; however, after graduation, i gave up skiing while i made my way into the “real world.” it wasn’t until my four children were ready to take up the sport 15 years later that i returned to the valley. (After all, skiing is one of the few lifetime sports that multiple generations can enjoy together.) As we drove into the historic village of Warren, i was immediately reminded of why we were attracted to this unique valley: it’s as if time stands still here. The Warren Store looked the same, and many of the people sitting around the potbelly stove were the same – just with a few more gray hairs. The mountain, too, was as i remembered it: vast and with great terrain for all abilities. A lot has changed in the half century since Sugarbush first opened, and, at the same time, a lot has stayed the same. The mountain and valley still offer boundless opportunities for fun and adventure no matter the time of year, and the people are as welcoming as There are ever. There are still no traffic lights still no traffic in town and the closest fast-food lights in restaurant is more than 20 miles town and away. But what has changed in the the closest last few years is that the overall fast-food Sugarbush experience is improving, restaurant is while still maintaining its legacy. more than 20 New, faster lifts and enhanced miles away. snowmaking capabilities have been added. in 2006, we opened Clay Brook – our new, refined, Vermont-style hotel and residences – as well as Timbers Restaurant and a new Gate house lodge. And for this season, our skiable terrain has been expanded to include seven new wooded areas. But most importantly, we continue to build a capable, hardworking, positive team of professionals who are dedicated to delivering the best possible service to you, our guests. Maybe that’s why in 2009 the National Ski Areas Association honored Sugarbush with its top prize for guest service. over the years, i have come to realize that life truly is better here in the Mad River Valley. And it is our goal at the mountain to become better each year, too. i look forward to sharing our special home with you. Cheers,
(Mountain) denniS curran
Win Smith President, Sugarbush Resort
t In the
The Simmons family says they were attracted to how the valley’s four different towns each have their own unique vibe.
Before permanently settling down in the Mad River Valley, the Simmons family tried to get a good sense of the community that came with the mountain. By SCoTT McleNNAN
usually plenty of homes available for rental deals. During that time, the family also felt out the people in the valley. Bear notes how adults with kids “have an automatic in” because the schools are “a great way to get involved with the community and meet people.” yet, those without kids are by no means isolated, thanks to Sugarbush ski clubs and agricultural and environmental coalitions that act as popular social networks. Both Bear and her husband quickly found suitable career paths in the valley – a testament that the job climate (especially for people working in recreation) was in good shape. Drew launched a public relations firm that works with companies focused on outdoors pursuits; Bear was a freelance photo stylist before going to work at Sugarbush in 2008 as director of women’s programs for the Adventure learning Center. Though the valley is compact, the couple notes that Burlington isn’t far for those itching for the city. But, in general, valley dwellers tend to be those who don’t mind that there aren’t any chain restaurants and the nearest big-box store is close to an hour’s drive away. The Simmons family wouldn’t have it any other way. :
fter graduating from uVM, it took Mary Simmons (known to most as “Bear”) 13 years to finally make her way back to her native state. “[our family was] always packing the car and going to Vermont,” says Bear, who lived in Jackson hole, Wyoming; Seattle, Washington; and Portland, Maine, before settling in the town of Waitsfield in Vermont’s Mad River Valley five years ago with her husband, Drew, and two children. “We finally just said, ‘Why don’t we live here? We’re spending all of our free time here.’” Although the decision to move back to Vermont was an easy one, the family was hesitant to do anything too permanent. Since resort communities can be notorious for shuttering once the visitors go home, it was important for the family to get an all-encompassing sense of the community first. To put it in simple terms: They wanted to test the waters. Before buying a house, they rented for six months. “it’s good to get the perspective of a resident. it’s different when you’re just visiting,” says Bear. “you get a greater sense of the community and realize the valley is four different towns, each with a different vibe.” And because the Mad River Valley attracts so many visitors, there are
Their Float By CATheRiNe ShANe
he town of Warren typically has like three people walking around it,” jokes Vermont architect Jim Sanford, referring to an average summer day in the sleepy little village located four miles from Sugarbush. Come July Fourth though, 10,000 people pack the streets, lining the parade route starting from the south end of town, past the Warren Store on Main Street, and leading all the way to Brooks Recreation Field at the local elementary school. “Warren’s the anchor for the Mad River Valley on the Fourth,” says Sanford. “everyone comes to see the parade.” Sure, they all love to see the color guard and the jazz-rock band that plays on the porch of the Warren Store each year, but the real allure is the float made by the folks at Prickly Mountain, a 450acre architectural commune located in east Warren. Known for their crazy concoctions (previous floats included a giant hummer that gave birth to a solar car and an enormous beehive surrounded with people dressed as bees), Prickly Mountain is where visionary architects have been flocking to practice their unrestrictive, “justdo-it” approach to building homes since it was founded by two yale School of Architecture grads in 1965. often disregarding formal blueprints and building homes in a completely spontaneous way, the group constructs floats that reflect the same sort of off-theSandy MacyS
For the Prickly Mountain group, building their famous Fourth of July floats for the Warren town parade is not so much about a rigid step-by-step process as it is about simply being together and letting things flow.
cuff methodology. “it’s one of our reunion rituals,” says Carl Bates, a Masonic builder who came to Prickly in 1972 and still lives just a minute away from the property. “Prickly people who have now moved out of state Every Fourth, a crowd of plan their summer vacations around the 10,000 wade into the streets of Warren (right) and eagerly effort.” you can picture the 50-person await the Prickly Mountain group of architects and their families float creation, like their barbecuing, drinking beers, excitedly recent “Hummer Bummer.” shouting out ideas, and scribbling formations on bits of paper at the pond on Prickly’s premises. But for all the spontaneity, there actually are a few rules. Number one: No motors allowed; number two: The float must go through some sort of transformation (either it folds up, expands, or rises upward); and number three: it has to be big. (Take, for example, their ’95 bear float that was about 40 feet tall when it stood on its hind legs.)
You can picture the architects barbecuing, drinking beers, excitedly shouting out ideas, and scribbling formations on bits of paper.
These five activities nicely fill out any summer day.
: Hit tHe Links [Warren] Sugarbush’s 18-hole, Robert Trent Jones Sr. course doesn’t skimp on the mountain views: The signature 7th hole looks directly at Camel’s Hump, the highest undeveloped mountain in Vermont at 4,083 feet. sugarbush.com/vermont-activities-events/golf-club, 802-583-6725
: Java Junkies [Waterbury] Taste-test coffee blends from the Green Mountain visitors’ center’s on-site factory, then learn how the beverage is made through a self-guided tour in their interactive “coffee room.” or, if you’re around on a Wednesday evening, there’s live music from local artists on the outside porch. waterburystation.com, 877-879-2326
: Disc tossing [Lincoln Peak] For a different kind of hike, Sugarbush has two 18-hole disc golf courses, including the Peak Course that starts at the top of the Super Bravo chair and then plays down to the Lincoln Peak Village. sugarbush.com/vermont-activities-events/disc-golf, 800-537-8437
: HigH-aLtituDe aDventure [Lincoln Peak] Whiz 40 to 50 feet off the ground on the resort’s zip line. Speeds reach up to 15 miles per hour with views every soaring stretch of the way. sugarbush.com/vermont-activities-events/zip-line, 800-537-8437
: Big spLasHes [The Mad River]
Sometimes the building effort begins the night before the parade; other years it evolves over a week. it’s often a tight schedule, but Bates says it helps that they’re all architects and builders: “We’re able to think on our feet.” in fact, it’s not unusual to find them making final float adjustments just moments before the parade begins. “We tend to know how to get things accomplished. even if it is a bit rushed.” : Sandy MacyS
At the Lareau Swimming Hole, younger children doggy-paddle in the shallow side of the river, while across the way, older kids jump off a large boulder from heights of 5 or 10 feet into the 12-foot-deep water. madrivervalley.com/vermont/activities/detail.asp?actid=57
arts & cuLture
originally a contractor, Foster says when he sold his first piece over 10 years ago, “the tool belt immediately went away.” Now his home and garden sculptures go for as much as $10,000.
it’s not just about displaying a handful of art forms at the art in the Big Red Barn event. this is the place where the valley’s spectrum of artists converges. By catHerine sHane
Jennifer Perellie’s vibrant poppy flower paintings utilize three mediums: watercolor, tissue paper, and pastel.
rom mixed media and sculpture to photography and oils, the Art in the Big Red Barn event (part of the Vermont Festival of the Arts) has become something of a melting pot for Mad River Valley artists. “it’s un-juried, so anyone who wants to be in it really can be,” says Dotty Kyle, one of the organizers (and contributing artists) for the 12-year-old community event. But this isn’t just some craft show; these are “original fine-art pieces from the valley’s best artists,” explains Kyle. here
are three examples from the valley’s varied spectrum.
recycled Metal sculptures using a process that involves heating and pounding steel scraps, then fusing the pieces together with a basic stick-welding technique, longtime Mad River Valley resident Dicky Foster has been transforming leftover farm scraps into whimsical figurines of birds and musicians for the past 13 years.
Mixed Media Beginning in 2003, Jennifer perellie began experimenting with three different mediums in her paintings. She first paints a scene (that is 99 percent of the time depicting poppies) in watercolor, then glues ripped tissue paper as the stems and grass. once dry, she’ll apply as many as 10 layers of brightly color pastel. “People can’t believe they come from me,” she says of the cheerful, vibrant pieces. “i wear all black and i have pink hair.” :
tour d’art Celebrating its 13th year in August 2010, the Vermont Festival of the Arts is like the Tour de France of art. But, instead of attracting cyclists from around the world, the coveted festival attracts art enthusiasts from all over New England for the nonstop, monthlong series of events. In all, there are more than 150 events, featuring visual, culinary, and performance art. vermontartfest.com, 800-517-4247
(paintinG) jenniFer perellie; (Sculpture) Glenn Moody photoGraphy
Joan Lane of Waitsfield first came across watercolor monoprints seven years ago. The process involves painting an image using watercolor pigments onto a Plexiglas plate, then transferring that image to a damp piece of paper by feeding it through an etching press. The result is a spontaneous art form because the pigments can sometimes move around in the press, adding something lane calls “happy accidents” to her works. her images are typically bucolic Vermont scenes, including rolling hills and fields.
Powder Tr iP The mountain’s new cat-skiing operation gets you untracked runs before anyone else steps foot on the mountain. By RyAN BRANDT
Another happy First Tracks customer comes face to face with the merchandise.
pointed at the top of the North lynx peak. A few minutes past 7 a.m., he was atop the untouched dome. The lifts weren’t running, patrol wasn’t even out yet, not even a squirrel’s footprint had disturbed the new layer of white. And yet here he was, ready to begin one of those runs every skier dreams about. “it was just phenomenal,” he remembers, slipping into his narcotic powder memory months later. “it was full-on white room. you know, like you had to look to Sandy MacyS
s Sugarbush’s vice president of mountain operations and former patrol director for six years, John hammond has had some pretty good ski days. February 22, 2009, now tops his list of favorites. The gray-yellow sun began its rise that Saturday morning over a sight that would make any avid skier or rider giddy: a fresh 30-inch blanket. it was even more exciting because hammond was riding shotgun in the mountain’s newly purchased 12-seat Piston Bully cabin cat
QuadRuplE dip Sugarbush’s new 12-person “Lincoln Limo” cat now delivers some novel mountain experiences.
: First tracks Leaving at 7 a.m., the entire mountain is your oyster for at least three runs of prime corduroy or fresh tracks before the lifts open. Saturdays, holidays, and powder days
: aLLyn’s LoDge Dinners The cat takes you to the top of Gadd Peak for a gourmet, candle-lit dinner prepared with seasonal Vermont ingredients. Then you ski down under the night sky. Saturdays; New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, and additional holiday nights
The “Lincoln Limo” leaves promptly at 7 a.m., dropping skiers off wherever the guides think the best runs are that day.
: sunset riDes
regularly run on holidays and Saturdays. on those days, when there might not be a fresh layer, it’s about having the entire mountain to yourself and soaking up the inside knowledge that comes from guides like Sugarbush President Win Smith, Warren Miller ski film star and resort adventure chief John egan, and hammond. They’ll show you the best lines, give you technique pointers if you want, and perhaps take you into the Slide Brook wilderness for a memorable last run. But even the mountain’s most ardent marketing exec will admit those fresh powder days are the biggest prizes, which take a bit of luck and a healthy amount of storm-tracking to take advantage of. Season-pass holder eugene Krylov of Newton, Massachusetts, was one such Sugarbush devotee following The Weather Channel in hopes that the stars would align for him and his 8-year-old son, Alex, at the end of the February vacation week last year. he hit it perfectly on that February 22 morning. “Alex is only about four feet tall so the snow was coming up to his chest. he had to ski in someone else’s tracks just so he wouldn’t get stuck because it was so deep,” remembers Krylov. That’s one lucky 8-year-old. :
Bring your camera: Families climb aboard for an hour-long ride timed to take advantage of the Green Mountains’s best sunset view. Saturdays
: kiDs’ parties Party with 11 of your best friends in this tank-like vehicle decked out with plush seats and a flat-screen TV, followed by pizza and cake at the Gate House Lodge. For all advanced reservations, day-of reservations for the dinners and sunset rides, and day-before reservations for the powder-day First Tracks, call 802-583-6590. If after 5 p.m., call the Clay Brook front desk at 802-583-6822.
(SkierS, cabin cat) Sandy MacyS
the side to get a breath of air [because of the snow flying in your face].” The thing is, hammond wasn’t alone, and the others who got to join him on that powder day weren’t company muckymucks with “VP” on their business cards. They were the very lucky 13 guests who had signed up for the mountain’s new First Tracks program, an early morning cat-skiing operation launched last season that’s the first and only one of its kind on the east Coast. The goal is fairly simple: Get this select number of guests as many guided first-track runs as possible before the lifts open. leaving from the lincoln Peak base area at 7 a.m., the “lincoln limo” cat heads wherever the guides think might be best that day – North lynx, lincoln, wherever. After a few laps, your mode of transportation switches to the lifts, which are now turning but still empty. All told, you’re looking at a minimum of three runs, but on hammond’s memorable day, the tally was somewhere closer to five because of the pace of the group. “it’s all a white blur,” he says. in addition to the powder trips, which are given the green light on the previous afternoon’s snow report and then booked through Guest Services, the tours also
k a e
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ring e e n i unta ips o M aking friendsh e r b ound d lasting r g s ’ n rbush y skills a a g u r d in S ackcount uff e v t l o h v b a in kids gram find . BY SaR e h t pro acks r s t r e h z s Bla e fre h t g amon late March of 2009, and lincoln Peak Village is brimming with kidfriendly sights that rival a Nickelodeon set. here, eager participants don quirky costumes like chicken suits and Tinkerbell outfits, and make their way toward the temporary pool of blue water that is set up in preparation for the annual skimming antics. Giant speakers are blasting pop music with a bass line you can feel bumping in your chest like a second heartbeat. But the kids i’m with could care less about the playground atmosphere at the base area. instead, Cam Veidenheimer, 13, Seve Mustone, 13, and emma and Chris Perry, 14 and 12 respectively – all wearing hydration packs filled with first-aid kits, extra clothes, and climbing skins – have found a playground of their own in the eden woods. After cruising down Snowball from the Super Bravo express Quad and pausing briefly at the entrance to the legendary glade, they begin to dip and turn among the tightly packed branches and trunks. For a moment, i’m frozen in place, unsure whether or not to follow them into eden. Stupidly, i left my helmet in the car, and as a mom of two little tykes of my own i know it’s a bad idea to ski the trees with a naked noggin. i’m also wearing my old Salomon 180-centimeter skis – too long and too out of tune for me to be executing such tight turns in tricky terrain. Whatever. i take a deep breath and follow the four. Today, they’re
it’s pond-skimming day at Sugarbush,
Founded by the world-famous extreme skier John Egan, the program takes kids all over Sugarbushâ€™s 4,000 acres.
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Were it not a late spring weekend, with other sports and obligations keeping more families in their hometowns elsewhere in the Northeast, it would be easier to spot the Mountaineering Blazers, as there are typically 11 of them total. John Atkinson, a long-time coach, explains that the program grew out of Adventure Blazers, and was started by legendary John egan, a world-famous extreme skier who is head of Sugarbush’s Adventure learning Center. “We had kids who had mastered Adventure Blazers and wanted even more,” says Atkinson. So while Adventure Blazers takes kids all over the mountain, Mountaineering Blazers teaches kids to go even further in the backcountry with emphasis on survival skills like navigation, avalanche awareness, and endurance training. Signing your kids up for soccer is one thing; but signing them up for a winter of snowbound challenges that teach survival skills? For parents such as Alessandra Bianchi of Marblehead, Massachusetts, mom to 10-year-old Jake and 12-year-old Adam herman, that was exactly the point. “it’s much more unpredictable than other programs, in a good way,” says Bianchi, who expresses utmost confidence in – and admiration for – hale and Daigle. “They’re both fabulous people:
giving me a taste of Sugarbush’s unique Mountaineering Blazers program. unlike traditional ski schools, where students follow instructors in carefully carved s’s down groomed slopes, the Mountaineering Blazers is a wild ride of backcountry touring, winter camping, skinning, telemarking, and tree skiing. The season-long program is designed to teach kids ages 9 to 17 to safely ski all of Sugarbush’s 4,000 acres, while also instilling them with lifelong skills. Parents call Mountaineering Blazers “amazing” and “groundbreaking.” Kids just call it “fun,” “crazy,” and “exhausting.” “We ski the woods, and a lot can go wrong in there,” says Rick hale, one of the two Mountaineering coaches and also one of the best all-around skiers in the Mad River Valley. “But this helps their confidence and self-esteem, and they’re a close-knit group.” So close, in fact, that i can’t keep up with them in the eden glade. The four, along with hale and fellow coach Brian “Diggity” Daigle (another incredible athlete, voted Sugarbush’s best skier in 2008 by fellow employees), disappear among the branches, where i lose sight of them now and again.
(Group) Sandy MacyS; (Student) rick hale
ional radit om t turns in r f t n r iffere earn thei joying ely d n Entir ools, kids (right) e ; h s. y c r r s t o i n b k u s ckco f those la a b e o th ds ewar the r
nutso for skiing and gifted in inspiring children. They have an innate sense of what’s right each day on the mountain.” indeed, both coaches have managed to avoid crowds and find good conditions by leading the Blazers, Atkinson, and me into eden, which holds a surprising amount of snow for a post-thaw day. So much that i begin to grow comfortable weaving among the trees without a helmet, and pop out onto Spring Road to watch Cam, Seve, Chris, and emma poised above a small cliff they’re about to huck. They coax each other through the initial hesitation, then clang poles when each has successfully landed. it’s this kind of dynamic that can happen only in the backcountry, say many of the Blazers and their parents. in February 2009, the group participated in the Mountain hardwear Ski Mountaineering Race, a six-mile event that sends athletes skinning up and skiing
down the tough terrain between Mad River Glen and Sugarbush. The junior group of Blazers did very well, finishing in two hours or less. But Seve remembers most how Cam and Chris stuck with him even when he suffered blisters from wearing the wrong socks that day. “i was hurting so badly, i almost wanted to drop out,” he says. “They made sure i was fine. That’s how much of a bond this group has. That’s why i love it so much.” Seve also says – with the slight note of complaint common to preteens trying to bulk up for that middleschool dance – that he “stayed put” at 75 pounds for two months because of the Blazers. Still, it didn’t stop him from learning how to do a 360, how to skin, and how to herringbone. others have learned how to telemark, build a snow cave, and self-evacuate a chairlift. The program also teaches kids how to be self-sufficient for long periods of time out-
Parents call Mountaineering Blazers “amazing” and “groundbreaking.” Kids just call it “fun,” “crazy,” and “exhausting.”
I watch Cam, Seve, Chris, and Emma poised above a small cliff they’re about to huck. They coax each other through the initial hesitation, then clang poles when each has successfully landed. So inspiring are the adventures, says John Mendelsohn of Falmouth, Massachusetts, that his son, Willy, has been able to battle Crohn’s disease while skiing with the Blazers, growing stronger and
(Group) Sandy MacyS; (Student) rick hale
doors in tough weather conditions. (Think: how to dress and vent, proper hydration and nutrition, what to carry in your backpack, and good decision-making.) “The purpose is to create lifelong skiers and riders who are safe, strong, confident, aware, and highly motivated,” says Atkinson.
(Clockwise from opposite, bottom) Last season, a six-mile race tested their skinning and skiing ability; participants learn survival techniques like how to build snow caves; Blazers parents speak of a newfound confidence in their kids.
SugaRBuSh’S OthER SWEEt SchOOlS aside from an extensive lineup of day programs, the mountain also offers these popular seasonal programs.
more confident each weekend. other parents express amazement at their kids’ new skiing prowess. “he looks like Rick on the mountain, and that’s a big compliment,” says David Beningson, comparing his 12-year-old son, Nathan, to Blazers coach hale. Seve’s mom, Carol, reveals a bit of envy: No matter how much fun she has during the day, Seve trumps her by finding untracked powder every time. Cam’s mom, Betsy, says that the mental toughness and camaraderie she has seen this season are powerful. “Watching him go through this winter was extremely rewarding, and i was moved to tears more than once,” says Betsy, who was particularly struck by the relationships Cam built with his coaches and with his peers in the group – and by watching Cam finish the mountaineering race. “Middle-school years are hard, and the supportive nature of the kids toward one another cannot be overstated.” Clearly, i haven’t earned the support of the Mountaineering Blazers yet. After finishing a few laps in the eden woods, we all head over to the double-black Stein’s Run, which is stippled with Volkswagen-sized moguls today. Another natural playground, and once again, Cam, Seve, emma, and Chris handle it with confidence, grace, and enthusiasm, while i trail tentatively behind. “okay, pole plants!” Daigle says. And then they are gone. :
: Micro BLazers This beginner ski program is specially tailored to the attention spans of 3- and 4-yearolds with only one to two hours spent sliding around in the SunKid Terrain Garden. Includes snack and play time.
: snow BLazers In this lesson grouped by similar age and ability level, intermediate to advanced skiers ages 6 to 15 weave through mini-moguls on one run, then try out a rail on the next. The lesson also teaches new skills such as snowboarding or telemarking.
: snow riDers For snowboarders ages 6 to 15, this lesson spends time on a variety of intermediate and advanced terrain, including race courses, bumps, and trees. Coaches also teach riders other disciplines such as alpine skiing. For a complete list of Sugarbush’s seasonal and day programs, visit Sugarbush.com or call 800-537-8427.
TIES Maggie Phalenâ€™s family connection to Sugarbush made it the obvious place to celebrate her wedding. By CoRi RuSSell
Maggie Phalen might feel a twinge of sadness every time she ran laps on the Birdland trail, eventually coming to the intersection of lower Birdland and Murphy’s Glades. here, under the Bravo lift, stands a sign reading “Carpy’s Corner,” erected in memory of her grandfather, Bill Carpenter, a longtime Sugarbush ski patroller who passed away three years ago. But any somberness quickly dissipates because it was on the night of the sign’s dedication ceremony back in November 2007 that her boyfriend, Christian Connelly, proposed to her. “it was really my grandfather’s connection to the mountain that can be credited with [initiating] the whole affair,” Maggie says of her April 2009 wedding. Maggie herself began skiing at the resort when she was 2 years old with her extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins at lincoln Peak, the place where both her mother and grandfather ski patrolled. As a kid, Maggie recalls spending time with her grandfather – known just as “Carpy” by other staff members – in the ski patrollers’ warming huts on the mountain. “We would swing by
and say ‘hi,’ then i would talk him into going skiing with us,” Maggie remembers. Although it was the memory of her grandfather that got the ball rolling on the wedding plans, Maggie and Christian’s own connection to the mountain took over from there. infusing the event with personal touches, the couple created a weekend
Maggie Phalen (top, left) credits her grandfather, a longtime Sugarbush ski patroller known just as “Carpy,” for kick starting her wedding plans.
celebration that was largely about enjoying the resort’s myriad activities together – like Maggie and Christian had throughout their four-year relationship – while also honoring the memory of their families. Those four years of making trips to the mountain meant Christian also had a good relationship with the resort, so it wasn’t just about celebrating Maggie’s family. The couple then used that understanding of the mountain and its offerings to give them a head start in planning, which they wanted to make sure reflected their own personalities, starting with the ceremony location. Though the resort boasts a variety of potential wedding sites, including a new base lodge and golf-course clubhouse, the couple immediately felt at home at Timbers, a slope-side restaurant intended to mimic the round barns found in Vermont. With exposed beams, 45-foot cathedral ceilings, and hardwood floors, Timbers felt like the couple’s own 1890s home in Worcester, Massachusetts. “hosting our wedding at Timbers was as close as we could get to inviting our guests to celebrate with us at our own house,” explains Maggie. The couple was so captivated by Timbers’s rustic charm – including its
(“carpy”) Sandy MacyS; (couple) verMontSphotoGrapher.coM
(tiMberS) Sandy MacyS
(Clockwise from top right) The families took advantage of the mountain’s spring-skiing conditions; Maggie decorated the wedding venue with tea-light candles; the couple immediately fell for Timbers’s architecture, featuring exposed beams and 45-foot cathedral ceilings.
wrought-iron candle chandeliers and stone fireplace – that they were careful not to detract from the natural look of the old-world, post-and-beam building. Maggie felt floral arrangements wouldn’t quite fit in the space: “i didn’t want to ruin the space with ill-fitting blooms for tradition’s sake.” So she decorated the space as she felt it was intended – with candlelight. With assistance from Sugarbush’s event coordinator Tiffany Bailey, she draped the room in a soft, romantic glow by placing
tea-light candles, provided by the resort, on nearly every surface, including the mantle, bar, tables, and even a half wall that looped around the room. Guests arrived on Friday to check in to their weekend accommodations at Clay Brook, the resort’s slope-side hotel – also the setting of Christian’s proposal a year and a half earlier – and were greeted by clear skies on Saturday. Many took advantage of the spring-skiing conditions, while others indulged in massages at the
health and Racquet Club right up until the ceremony’s 6 p.m. start time. Because they preferred to spend time with all of their wedding guests during a weekend of activity, the couple opted to forego a wedding party entirely. Maggie felt that this group camaraderie was a much better way to bond with friends, rather than through a bridesmaids’ luncheon or tea. Although they did not have a wedding party, the couple incorporated their families in other ways. Christian’s sis-
ters proved their beauty skills when they did Maggie’s hair and makeup for engagement parties and bridal showers, so Maggie asked them to be her stylists for the wedding. having officiated at Christian’s sister’s wedding a few years prior, Christian’s father made the obvious choice for officiant. The couple employed both mothers to light unity candles at the ceremony, and assigned cousins and brothers the roles of ushers and readers. Christian’s eldest brother played the guitar for the ceremony and the reception’s first dance. By keeping family close throughout the event, the couple felt it wasn’t a celebration just about them, but their families as well. Though brief, the fireside ceremony was particularly meaningful, as it honored Christian’s two sisters and grandfathers who had passed away, and, of course, Maggie’s grandfather. The weekend came to a close when guests finally said their good-byes after the post-wedding brunch at Timbers on easter Sunday. They were
only half kidding when they promised to return to Sugarbush to celebrate Maggie and Christian’s first anniversary. “With all of the personal and family ties surrounding the event, the day was pretty sentimental for us,” Maggie remembers, “more so, i think, than it is for a lot of couples who are simply celebrating their union.” like
Maggie describes her wedding as a day she “wished would never end.” Although the somewhat clichéd statement often rings hollow, in Maggie’s case, at least an extension of the day is actually possible. “The beauty of having a wedding in a
The couple made a point to incorporate their families into the wedding ceremony, like Christian’s brother, who played the guitar (above), and father, who was the officiant (below).
place you know well and where you have family roots is knowing you’ll be back,” Maggie says. “Throughout the weekend, i kept thinking that if we were lucky, we’d be celebrating our children’s weddings here, too.” :
MaggiE & chRiStian’S WEdding dEtailS : venue, catering, guest accoMMoDations
Sugarbush Resort Warren, VT sugarbush.com, 800-53-SUGAR
: pHotograpHer Vyto Starinskas Rutland, VT vermontsphotographer.com, 802-775-4666
: cake Snaffle Sweets Richmond, VT snafflesweets.com, 802-434-2400
: Disc Jockey Starlite DJs Burlington, VT starlitedjs.com, 800-734-1140
: reHearsaL Dinner Miguel’s Stowaway Restaurant Warren, VT 802-253-7574
elcome to Sugarbush Resort, a four-season ski, snowboard, golf, and adventure resort in Vermont’s Mad River Valley. From the moment your car rolls into the valley to the first turns you take on the mountain, there’s a sense that you have discovered something special here. It might be the covered bridges that dot the landscape or the resort’s two mountains that soar to heights of 4,083 feet above the valley floor. Whatever it is, the mountain and its surrounding towns have the makings for an unforgettable vacation experience – a trip you’ll be repeating for years to come.
adventure LearnIng Center inspired by adventure skier John egan, Sugarbush’s Adventure learning Center has a range of ski-and-ride programs that turn first-timer apprehension into achievement. The children’s Bear programs introduce kids as young as 3 to snow, while the unique Blazer programs teach older kids (of advanced ability) how to ski and ride backcountry terrain, in addition to survival skills. Adult beginners can choose from a host of First Timer clinics or opt for a private lesson from one of more than 200 tenured instructors. And for those who want to explore the mountain’s wild side, the two-and-a-half-hour guided outback Tours explore the Slide Brook Basin – a 2,000-acre wilderness territory home to bear, moose, deer, and coyote.
the peopLe Several skiing icons – like World Cup skiers Doug and Kelley lewis, Warren Miller film star John egan, and u.S. Freestyle champion David Babic – have called Sugarbush home for decades. But they are only a fraction of what make the mountain special. Staff members make up the other piece of the resort, as exemplified by the National Ski Areas Association awarding Sugarbush its top prize for guest service in 2009. Take, for instance, Guest Services’s harry hutchison, who finds the sunglasses you misplaced during lunch; Adventure Den’s Tracy Wright, who places your child in the perfect ski or ride program; and instructor Mary Ann Raymond, who is ranked by both SKI and Skiing magazines as one of the “Top 100 Ski instructors in the Country.” you might even run into Sugarbush’s owner Win Smith, who will happily guide you on a First Tracks Snowcat adventure.
Cat skIIng in the east? yup. Well at least while you’re at Sugarbush. last year, the resort bought a 12-passenger Pisten Bully cabin cat, making Sugarbush the only mountain to offer cat skiing this side of the Mississippi. The “lincoln limo,” as it has come to be known, transports guests up to the mid-mountain Allyn’s lodge for specialty dinners and fullmoon skiing and snowshoeing. But the real fun comes on powder days when the first 12 people to show up at Guest Services by 6:45 a.m. (or who call the night before) get to own the mountain until the lifts start turning. And when Mt. ellen closes the last Sunday of March, the cat moves from lincoln Peak to Mt. ellen to offer exclusive halfand full-day powder excursions complete with barbecue lunches.
sugarBush close-up Mt. eLLen Throughout the season, it’s not unusual for locals to field questions from visitors about where they go for the best hidden lines. But Sugarbush doesn’t have any one “secret stash,” per se. Rather, they have an entire mountain of them in Mt. ellen, one of Vermont’s highest peaks. And while locals have lovingly deemed it “Mt. Forgotten” (only 25 percent of all of Sugarbush’s guests pay it a visit), its 2,600 vertical feet of open faces, narrow chutes, and nine wooded areas offer up a “big mountain” experience for anyone looking to go where the crowds are not.
LodgIng From slope-side luxury to quaint country inns to individual condos, the Sugarbush Vacation Team will find something to suit your family. The slope-side Clay Brook hotel and Residences offers 61 suites, ranging from studios to five-bedroom penthouses, and features ski-in/ski-out access, full valet service, a year-round outdoor heated pool, a fitness center, and Timbers (a post-and-beam restaurant with 45-foot cathedral ceilings). Down the road is the 42-room Sugarbush inn. The inn, with two restaurants, nooks for reading, and a parlor with an adjoining taproom, has the cozy charm of a Vermont country inn with all the services of a resort.
MountaIn statIstICs Skiable acres: 578 Miles of trails: 53 Tree-skiing areas: 18 Summit elevation: 4,083 feet Base elevation: 1,483 feet Vertical drop: 2,600 feet Average annual snowfall: 269 inches Terrain parks: 3
LIFts (16 totaL) 7 high-speed quads 2 triples 4 doubles 3 surface lifts
operatIng hours and ContaCt InFo Weekdays: 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Weekend/holiday: 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Season: mid-November–April 802-583-6300; 800-53-SuGAR Sugarbush.com Sugarbush Resort Warren, Vermont
area transportatIon Green Mountain Transit is a nonprofit agency that offers public transportation services to the counties of Washington, lamoille, and three towns within orange. Their â€œMad Busâ€? provides free transportation within the Mad River Valley region, including Sugarbush and the village of Warren. For exact scheduling, visit their Web site at Gmtaride.org or call 802-223-7287.