With storm damage addressed, ski areas think snow

Central Vermont, where Killington is located, was heavily damaged in the aftermath of Tropical Storm

At Killington Resort, one of the main casualties of Tropical Storm Irene was the Superstar Pub, which partially collapsed during the storm.

But a new bar is under construction at the ski area and will be up and running by the end of November. It will actually be bigger than the Superstar Pub, able to seat 300 guests in two heated umbrella bars that will be on a rebuilt deck, and open year round, rather than just during ski season.

“Our snow guns are set up and ready to fire once the temperatures drop,” said Sarah Thorson, communications manager for Killington.

Central Vermont, where Killington is located, was heavily damaged in the aftermath of Irene, with the storm’s winds and rain wiping out roads, bridges and homes. Some of the state’s premier ski resorts were damaged by the storm and forced to rebuild quickly, before ski season.

In New York, ski resorts in the path of the storm were also damaged, but they, too, all vow to be open for the start of the season, as planned.

At Whiteface Mountain Ski Center, located in the Adirondacks in Essex County, damaged trails and culverts have been repaired and roads have been repaved. One of the snowmaking pumphouses lost a transformer and a motor control, but they have been replaced. In the immediate aftermath of the storm, there were also fallen trees on power lines and ski lift lines.

“We had minimal damage, and it’s since been resolved,” said John Lundin, a spokesman for Whiteface Lake Placid. “We were fortunate.”

Whiteface will open on Nov. 25, as planned, Lundin said.

Beyond the bar, the rest of the damage at Killington was relatively minor.

Five lodges and some snowmaking pumphouses suffered silt and water damage, while lift infrastructure, condominium properties and the golf course also sustained minor damage.

Those problems have been fixed, according to Thorson. There’s new carpeting and drywall in the lodges, and the parking lot, which was also damaged, has been regraded.

And roads to the region, which sustained heavy damage, have been repaired.

“It was a great turnaround,” Thorson said.

Hit hard

Okemo Mountain Resort is in Ludlow, Vt., one of the hardest-hit areas of the state.

Irene initially wiped out Okemo’s access road, called Mountain Road, and floodwaters deposited 4 feet of silt and sand on the resort’s Snow Stars conveyor lift, which serves beginning skiers, and the F-10 conveyor.

There were also some washouts along the sides of Okemo Ridge Road and the road to Okemo Valley Golf Club, as well as damage to offices beneath the resort’s clock tower.

“It looked like an earthquake happened,” said Bonnie MacPherson, director of public relations for Okemo. “There were huge chunks of asphalt going every which way.”

The resort has its own earth-moving equipment and was able to make the resort completely accessible within a week, she said. Repairing Mountain Road was a priority, because tourists like to drive up the road in autumn and look at the leaves.

Most of the resort’s damage has been fixed, although repair work is ongoing and Okemo is gearing up for a tentative opening on Nov. 19.

“We received such an outpouring of support from skiers,” MacPherson said.

Windham Mountain

Windham Mountain in the Catskills was heavily damaged. The base lodge’s first floor, which includes the Mountain Sports Shop, the 3500 Club and several offices, was flooded, while the second floor also was soaked.

Flood waters cut channels along the side of the lodge, creating unstable staircases and digging out large crevasses on the trail. And the pumphouse, which brings water from the Batavia Kill to the snowmaking reservoir, was heavily damaged.

Work crews found the pumps and the foundation pretty much intact beneath 30 feet of debris, which made rebuilding the pumphouse much easier, said George Driscoll, director of sales and marketing.

“We’re going to have a better pumphouse,” Driscoll said.

Windham Mountain plans to be ready to open on Thanksgiving, weather permitting.

“I’ve been in this business a long time, and I’ve always said that if you ever want to recover from disaster you should have a ski area do it,” Driscoll said. “Because we deal with it all the time.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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