Saturday, December 24, 2016

We're back: a Christmas Eve report

by Jonny Jay
A Christmas Eve snow report

Full-on winter at Jay today, including those without snow tires doing the snake dance up the mountain road -- several not making it. Wanted to squeeze in a couple of runs to get the kinks out but wasn’t expecting a blizzard!

Bonnie was closed so took the Taxi chair over to the Flyer. Nice mid-winter face blow on the Flyer with wet snow sticking to the goggles but Ullr’s Dream was actually dreamy with a good six inches of freshie still on the sides. Then detoured into Beaver Pond – awesome for this time of year and really good at any time – same freshie in there too. Last run I thought I would coast down the Northway and maybe pick up Hells Woods on the way, but as I was passing Powerline . . . it looked as if it hadn’t been skied, no rope, no people. 

Hard left. Best conditions on Powerline in a long time. Absolutely perfect – soft crud with fresh snow on top and early in the year so no crazy gullies. Mine were the only tracks all the way down. I was back in the groove after that run.

Conditions are great.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

What is next for Jay Peak?

There is a bit a shitshow going on in the Jay Peak and Burke Mountain head offices right now. The resorts' owners, Ariel Quiros and Bill Stenger, are in some hot water with the Securities and Exchange Commission over misappropriation of EB-5 funds. Ooops. Here is the press release:

SEC Case Freezes Assets of Ski Resort Steeped in Fraudulent EB-5 Offerings

Washington D.C., April 14, 2016 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced fraud charges and an asset freeze against a Vermont-based ski resort and related businesses allegedly misusing millions of dollars raised through investments solicited under the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.

The SEC’s case was unsealed today in federal court in Miami, and the court has appointed a receiver over the companies to prevent any further spending of investor assets.
The SEC alleges that Ariel Quiros of Miami, William Stenger of Newport, Vt., and their companies made false statements and omitted key information while raising more than $350 million from investors to construct ski resort facilities and a biomedical research facility in Vermont.  Investors were told they were investing in one of several projects connected to Jay Peak Inc., a ski resort operated by Quiros and Stenger, and their money would only be used to finance that specific project.  Instead, in Ponzi-like fashion, money from investors in later projects was misappropriated to fund deficits in earlier projects.  More than $200 million was allegedly used for other-than-stated purposes, including $50 million spent on Quiros’s personal expenses and in other ways never disclosed to investors.
According to the SEC’s complaint, Quiros improperly tapped investor funds for such things as the purchase of a luxury condominium, payment of his income taxes and other taxes unrelated to the investments, and acquisition of an unrelated ski resort.
“The alleged fraud ran the gamut from false statements to deceptive financial transactions to outright theft,” said Andrew Ceresney, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.  “As alleged in our complaint, the defendants diverted millions of EB-5 investor dollars to their own pockets, leaving little money for construction of the research facility investors were told would be built and thereby putting the investors’ funds and their immigration petitions in jeopardy.”
The SEC’s complaint charges Quiros, Stenger, Jay Peak, and a company owned by Quiros called Q Resorts Inc. as well as seven limited partnerships and their general partner companies with violating the antifraud provisions of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5.  Four other companies are named as relief defendants in the SEC’s complaint for the purpose of recovering investor funds transferred into their accounts.  The SEC seeks preliminary and permanent injunctions, financial penalties, and disgorgement of ill-gotten gains plus interest.  The agency also seeks conduct-based injunctive relief against Quiros and Stenger along with an officer-and-director bar against Quiros.
The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Brian Theophilus James, Trisha D. Sindler, Michelle Lama, and Mark Dee, and the case was supervised by Chedly C. Dumornay of the Miami Regional Office.  The SEC’s litigation will be led by Christopher Martin and Robert K. Levenson of the Miami office.  The SEC appreciates the assistance of the Office of the Vermont Attorney General and other authorities in Vermont

The "good" news is that Jay Peak is currently operating under a new management company and our pal Steve Wright has been appointed General Manager.  We like Steve and wish him all the best in his new, but somewhat awkward, leadership position. It is probably not the promotion scenario he was hoping for.

I'm thinking that we should probably just give up on the West Bowl and a relocated Bonaventure Chair for the mean time. I hope the hardworking staff of Jay Peak and Burke Mountain will come out of this with jobs.

Makes you wish for the good old days, doesn't it? (photo by Harvey)

Friday, March 11, 2016

Timing is everything this winter.

A classic view of Jay Peak
It is no secret that a lot of Eastern skiers have been pretty grumpy this season. Ullr has been fickle, and many resorts would not have opened without snowmaking. Jay Peak did not escape the meagreness, though over the last few weeks, the snow planets lined up and delivered some good accumulation. I took advantage of a window of opportunity earlier this week, and got to ski for three days before the warm-up that was forecast to cause a big meltdown (figuratively and literally).

CanAm looking a bit glacial on day one but much better than a month ago.

Canyonland was in fine shape on Sunday, a nice treat.
 Skiing on a Sunday always has a special flavour. The mountain will still be busy but the atmosphere a little more subdued. I think there is a greater percentage of experienced skiers, which makes things a little more predictable. This Sunday in particular was a great day to clean out the cobwebs and get the lift-serviced mindset back. The sky was clear and blue, temperatures really pleasant and the wind pretty much non-existent. Groomed runs were in great shape, the woods were a little scrapey but still fun and it was best to stay away from ungroomed natural snow runs unless you needed to practice the controlled sideslip. Of all places, Flash was Run of the Day, with smooth snow and no ice. Chatting on the chair, I met people from New Jersey, New York City and downstate New York, all skiing at Jay because the conditions were better than anywhere else they considered. Like a good passholder, I skied till noon. After a pizza-fueled visit to FirstTrax, I changed setups and drove back up the 242 for a tour up Mt. Trixie. As always, a world apart from the resort but so close.  In the backcountry woods, the snow was very interesting: a firm crusty base with a variable but imminently skiable soft crusty-ish surface layer. If that makes sense.

In the crusty Canyonland the next day.
Monday's weather and conditions could not have been more of a contrast. The sunny day before might have been the perfect ski day for some people but on this day, many people would not have skied. The Snowbaru's thermometer indicated that the outside temperature was -2 C, was was great, but the wind was howling and wet sideways snow was starting to come down hard when I rolled into the Stateside lot. At 9 am, the Freezer, Tram and Bonnie were on wind delay. Alrighty then, up Taxi, down Sweetheart and off to the Jet we go. The snow continued to pile up but by 10:30, changed to a lovely wind-driven sleet/snow mix. Visibility was poor. I took a break. The regular crowd of local retirees was leaving, several complaining about the long line at the Jet, though admitting that the skiing was very good. You can't begrudge these people for bailing, they can ski every day if they want. Soon enough, the sleet changed back to snow and people got spread out on the hill. The big line disappeared. ROD, again perhaps surprisingly, was Kitzbuhel to Lower Jimmy Glade. I took three runs in a row down that, all with more or less the same line. Each time, I felt like the first person down, as my previous tracks had been filled in by the driving snow. Somewhere around noon, the wind died down, the Bonnie opened, the snow died off and the fog rolled in. Visibility got worse. The fact that you could see something made skiing in the woods or shrubby runs like Powerline much preferable to an open cruiser, not to mention the nice new snow. The Tram and Flyer never opened that day, so some creative route planning yielded untracked results well after lunch.

Monday: fresh tracks near noon in an accessible glade. No complaints.
Along with the weather, the tone of chairlift chats changed on Monday. With the exception of Grumpy Hockey Dad, who wasn't pleased with the poor visibility, everyone I talked to was having a fantastic day despite the challenging weather. Two passholders from Stratton drove up for the day and were clearly having a terrific time, despite the fact that they had never been to Jay Peak before and "couldn't see shit."  Another conversation helped restore my faith in the future of skiing humanity. Two boys, maybe 12 or 13, regular Jay skiers and obviously friends, chatted confidently with me, and we had a refreshing and highly entertaining discussion about fat skis, google defrosters and what Jay Peak like when I was their age. Maybe there is something to this Raised Jay thing, after all. It blew my mind a little when, after I described the experience of riding the Jet T-bar, one of them confessed that while he knew what a T-bar was, he had never ridden one, nor even seen one at a ski hill.
CanAm much improved on 3/8.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016, is now on my list of top l0 Jay Peak ski days. Except for the cloud-shrouded upper mountain, above the Bonnie summit, the sky was clear. All lifts were scheduled to open, but as I didn't feel like waiting for the Bonnie, I went up the Taxi, and sped down Queen's Highway, thinking a trip up the Tram might be in order if the line wasn't ridiculous. Monday's snow had been groomed, the wind was down and the mountain looked very inviting. The Tram line was too long, so I headed for the Freezer and was on the third chair. Deciding to go right, I poled through the undecided and found myself second guy down Ullr's. I let the skis run so I could stay that way. Despite the new snow and grooming that pitch was still very firm and very fast. I think I did two big turns on it. When I noticed that first guy's tracks led to Beaver Pond, I channeled my Crazy Canuck downhiller heritage and bombed the rest of Ullr's. What a way to wake up. There was no ROD because every run was fun, with snow like sugar frosting. Mexican Night at Bernie's the night before gave me the fuel for a fantastic day spent checking out all the old favourites: Can Am, JFK, River Quai, Green Beret, Exhibition and even Wedelmaster (with the Groomer Trap variation). I rode the tram three times and did Valhalla twice, it was in fine condition.

The Tuesday morning view on the River Quai
Above those clouds, looking at Big Jay.
All good trips must come to an end and I headed home on Wednesday. When I left The Clubhouse at 10 am, the temperature was 60 F and skies were overcast. The warm-up was on. I am glad (and lucky) that I timed this trip well but am confident that Jay has a solid enough base to keep spring conditions going for a while.

Welcome to Valhalla.
Fingers crossed.

Think Snow.

Monday, February 22, 2016

All hail the arrival of winter at Jay Peak (in February!)

 by Johnny Jay
If these two are skiing, you know conditions are good.

The snow report on Sunday morning, Feb 21, said "Winter has arrived at Jay Peak!" A little late in the season for that announcement but welcome none-the-less. Seeing green grass on Friday in Montgomery Centre and most of the way up the 242, this was encouraging news. With a little snow on Friday night, the mountain actually looked good on Saturday but still pretty rough and patchy with glades on the no-show list. But with wet snow all day that continued to fall overnight (instead of the rain in the valley) dramatically improved conditions on Sunday. Jay marketing was reporting 14 inches over 48 hours, which I suppose was true at the top. Glades miraculously opened up and even the Can-Am was open after looking quite sketchy.

So it wasn't epic but it sure was nice to get some turns in actual snow!


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Skiing between the lines at Jay Peak

As usual, this is not a current snow report, and it is only from last weekend. Things are changing, snow is falling. Winter might be here. And I don't need to tell you about this winter, yikes. But  if you go with an open mind, and ski between the lines, you will have a good time. 

These are the lines:

Don't let the snow-like appearance fool you, it was like concrete in there.
This is skiing between:

The always reliable middle Goat Run was a saviour of this weekend.

Looking the other way, up the Upper Quai, not so good:

There is a line there.
Hike to the summit anyone?

Oops, forgot the crampons.
They called out the army to resuscitate the The JFK:

Not so stealth ops on the JFK.
 But ultimately, Captain America saved the day:

The Captain was everywhere.