Killington opened for business last week, and while the ski terrain is limited right now, it is a good sign that "The Beast of the East" will be ready when the best women skiers in the world come to central Vermont Nov. 24-25 for the third year of early-season slalom and giant slalom World Cup competitions.
Before that, though, the unofficial start to the area ski season takes place the next two weekends with the annual Northeast Ski & Craft Beer Showcase that goes from Friday through Sunday at the Albany Capital Center, and then is followed a week later by the showing of this year's Warren Miller ski film at the Palace Theatre in Albany.
These events are annual traditions for area skiers. Albany’s ski show dates back to the early 1960s, while this is the 69th version of the annual Warren Miller film.
This will be the second year for the now-named Northeast Ski & Craft Beer Showcase at the Albany Capital Center. With a disc jockey providing the sound and The Indoor Aerial Ski Group providing ski gymnastics, the energy level in the hall has been increased, according to Mark Bardack, president of event promoter Ed Lewi Associates.
"We had a big attendance jump last year, our first at the center, and we believe the excitement will bring people in once again," Bardack said.
As in the past, ski areas from throughout the region will be represented, along with resorts from New England and eastern Canada.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort will be giving away a five-day getaway including airline tickets, while a Heliski outfitter from Alaska will be on hand.
Also in attendance will be two-time Olympic medalist Andrew Weibrecht, a Lake Placid native who will be at the Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa’s booth on Friday and Saturday. Area ski clubs and the Capital District Ski Council will be represented and the craft beer theme will feature 12 area breweries.
Once again, the show's lead sponsor is ski retailer Alpin Haus.
The admission price is $12, but there is a $2 discount available online at northeastskishow.com and at area Stewart’s Shops. The same $2 discount will apply for those who bring an unwrapped toy to be donated to the annual Toys For Tots campaign. There is free parking at the adjacent Times Union Center garage.
The show opens 4 p.m. Friday, and at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
As in the past, the first 500 people through the gate each day will receive a free lift ticket for the season ahead. An additional 100 tickets will be given away 2 p.m. Sunday.
This year's Warren Miller film, “The Face of Winter," will feature a retrospective on the life of the pioneering ski filmmaker who died last January. Miller started making ski films in 1950, and his daring photography and often wry commentary defined adventure on snow for more than half a century.
For the past 18 years, a key contributor to these films has been Josh Haskins, who grew up in Waterford and graduated from Shenendehowa High School in 1991. Haskins connected with Miller after graduating from the film program at the University of Colorado.
Starting out as a production assistant with the tedious duties of culling, editing and transferring old film negatives, Haskins has been full-time with Warren Miller Enterprises now for 18 years. For the past five years, he has been the main producer of the annual film, and is in charge of planning, managing and supervising the production and delivering the final product like what will be in Albany and throughout the country soon.
This is an impressive leap for someone who started out skiing as a 5-year-old with his family at West Mountain and Willard. He grew up watching Warren Miller Ski Films.
This year's film is special, Haskins said in a recent telephone interview. While Miller sold the film company in the 1980s and stopped doing narration in 2004, the annual production has always been identified with him.
“Almost all of our crew have worked on these films for many years, and most worked directly with Warren at one time,” Haskins said. “The film is a tribute to his career."
While Haskins lives with his wife and two daughters in Colorado, his parents and two brothers continue to live in the Capital Region, and his wife Denise grew up in Latham, where her family still lives.
Alpine Sport Shop in Saratoga Springs will host the first showing of "Face of Winter" in New York on Saturday, at 7 p.m., at Maple Avenue Middle School. Tickets are $15 prior to the event available at Alpine Sport Shop, and $20 at the door. All proceeds will benefit Saratoga Springs High School Nordic Team and Double H Ranch Winter Adaptive Program. Those attending will have a chance to win gifts from ski and snowboard suppliers, and receive lift ticket vouchers for Sugarbush Ski Resort in Vermont and more. For information, contact Alpine Sport Shop at 518-584-6290 or alpinesportshop.com.
"Face of Winter" will also be shown Friday and Saturday, Nov. 9-10, at the Palace Theater in Albany, starting at 7:30 p.m.
Phil Johnson can be reached at [email protected]