By BRIAN JENNINGS
According to the 2018 Old Farmer’s Almanac, the winter weather for the 2017-18 is forecasted to be colder, but not colder than usual. They’re predicting a wet and snowy winter all-around, but Southington manager Jay Dougherty said that he personally doesn’t put any stock in any of what the Old Farmer’s Almanac comes out with before every winter.
“We kind of play the cards we’re dealt on a daily and weekly basis because that’s all we can really do,” said Dougherty. “But having a snowier winter would certainly help. While it might not necessarily help our overall snow base, it gets people excited when they see snow in their backyard and drives them here.”
Aside from how he feels about the Old Farmer’s Almanac, Dougherty said that he thinks Mount Southington will attract a lot of business with a lot of snow and a cold winter just by looking at the weather patterns in early December.
“We have snow in the forecast and snow already on the ground,” said Dougherty. “We have cold temperatures coming this week with a nice arctic blast. It’s lining up to be good, and we’ll have a great holiday week, as long as that pattern sticks in.”
From the white powder that blanketed the state over the weekend, the first snow of the season surely got winter lovers excited for what lies ahead this December. The natural snow might have made Mount Southington look ready for the winter season. However, it’s not everything to them. Truthfully, the natural snow isn’t as durable as the manmade snow.
“Even though we might have gotten six or seven inches, it doesn’t compact the same as manmade snow,” said Dougherty. “Being in central Connecticut, we rely on snow making.”
Seeing snow in customers’ backyards certainly acts as a fantastic marketing and advertising tool for Mount Southington. But that’s not what Dougherty is putting all of his stock into this winter.
As long as there are cold temperatures, you can make snow, and Dougherty and his team won’t have any trouble making snow this winter. It’s the new snowmaking pumps at Mount Southington that has Dougherty excited about this winter, along with other new features and renovations on the property.
The owners of Mount Southington worked with a company called Techno-Alpin to invest primarily in snowmaking this year by completely replacing their pumping system, increasing their capacity to produce snow by 25 percent. According to Dougherty, the new snowmaking pumps will reduce the need for 18,000 gallons of diesel fuel that Mount Southington would normally use. A lot of the equipment has been changed over to electric, and the operation of the pumps is on a variable speed drive. So, the pumps literally run themselves.
With more snow quicker, the pumps allow them to open more terrain faster, which Dougherty said shows Mount Southington’s commitment to a quality service and a draw to get customers to the property.
“Snowmaking hasn’t been a problem for us, particularly, over the past few years,” said Dougherty. “But as our snowmaking windows of opportunity narrow, it certainly helps to have the ability to put down more snow at one time.”
The snow pumps are nice to have, but Dougherty said that it’s the selection of programming that people love that really draws them to Mount Southington. This winter, Mount Southington is offering multiple lesson programs, weekend children’s programs in the Glacier Learning area, and multi-week programs, like the Wild Things, Little Tikes, and Tiny Tikes programs for parents looking for an after-school or weekend program for their child to be in.
Dougherty said that they’ve seen a lot of interest in parents that want to get their kids involved in racing, but don’t want the full-on commitment, right off the bat, of joining a traveling racing team. So now, Mount Southington has an introduction to racing program, which is one day a week for four hours a day in a total of eight weeks.
“It’s designed for kids to get them excited about the sport of ski racing,” said Dougherty. “The commitment is very minimal. It’s a very popular program, and we’ve gotten very good reception from it. It’s created a lot of buzz this year.”
As far as the main buildings on the property, Mount Southington made major renovations this year.
There is now a full-on tuning shop that’s available to tune customer’s equipment. Mount Southington’s rental department is offering full ski and snowboard tune-ups for $49, waxing for $20. For those looking for consistent equipment maintenance, Mount Southington is also offering a seasonal waxing pass for $150, which includes one full tuning.
The Mountain Room was extended and renovated with additional seating and an extended menu. By doing this, they completely renovated from both the inside and outside, which is attached to the same building and consolidated much of the area so that they could extend the Mountain Room into that space and gain quite a bit of seating.
“We were basically looking to turn the room back into a banquet facility during the offseason,” said Dougherty. “We also had the challenge of seating more people as our race leagues grow larger, but it worked out perfectly.”
Aside from hosting an event for the Connecticut Industrial Ski Council and a couple of holiday parties in the newly renovated Mountain Room, Mount Southington is also looking to host Vertical Challenge on Saturday, Feb. 17 and SnoX on Saturday, Mar. 17.
“They both draw good crowds,” said Dougherty. “Last year was our first year doing the East Coast SnoX event, and it turned out really well. Everyone enjoyed it, we had a blast hosting it, and we look forward to doing it again.”
Mount Southington is anticipating opening day to be Saturday, Dec. 16 with the weather pattern that is forecasted to move into the state this weekend.
Northstar, Dom’s Way, Stardust, Boomerang, Avalanche, and Thunderbolt are the trails anticipated to be open on Saturday. The Northstar double, the Snowflake Carpet, the Stardust Triple, and the Avalanche Double are the lifts that are anticipated to be open.
For current skiing conditions, visit www.mountsouthington.com or call (860) 628-0954.
To comment on this story or to contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at email@example.com.