Ah yes, the perfect world of snow, skiing and sunshine! And yes, it does happen at Okemo, thanks to a dedicated and talented mountain operations team of snowmakers, groomers, lift operators, and ski patrol. But unfortunately Mother Nature doesn’t always deliver perfect weather conditions. Nor’easters, January thaws and rain – sometimes all in one day - plus a whole spectrum of temperature challenges persist on a regular basis throughout the winter season along the spine of Vermont’s Green Mountains. To complement, and at times combat, what Mother Nature delivers, Okemo’s mountain operations team is heavily armed! Seven snowcats make up Okemo’s front-line fleet, including three 527-horsepower Prinoth Beasts, which leave a 23-foot wide blanket of corduroy per pass, and one winch cat for grooming steeper terrain among the 46 miles of total trails. Miles and miles of water and compressed air pipe, plus more than 1,300 snowguns provide snowmaking coverage on more than 660 acres of terrain. Over the past 10 years, Okemo has spent millions of dollars for the latest grooming and snowmaking technology to deliver what SKI Magazine readers have annually voted as one of the top-five resorts in New England for grooming and snow quality. “There’s all the technology in the world out there, but you’ve got to know how to apply it, and you have to know how to be innovative,” said Diane Mueller, who along with her husband Tim, have owned and operated Okemo Mountain Resort since 1982. “And you know that ingenuity thing kicks in with those (mountain operations) guys out on the hill, and they do an amazing job.” Okemo routinely provides new technology for mountain operations, including a new Prinoth Bison X park cat this season for building and maintaining terrain parks and the 450-foot long Superpipe. But there are times when technology – which can also be very expensive – is no match for talent and experience. For instance, technology exists today that provides snowcat operators with real-time snow depth, which is very useful when building terrain park features, general grooming and placing snow in high-traffic areas. However, the technology is also very expensive. So for the Muellers and Eb Kinney, Okemo’s vice president of mountain operations, the choice is between spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on new technology or keeping key members of the grooming staff employed year-round. “It’s an advantage for us to keep our key guys year round so they see the mountain without snow,” said Kinney, who also added that Okemo might invest in the snow depth technology as future refinements become available. But for now, investing in year-round employees and expanding their on-mountain experience is priceless. “A lot of the groomers have done the summer trail mowing, where they learn the terrain up close and personal. Having groomers with a lot of on-hill experience is one great advantage. Most of our seasoned guys could tell you, with just a look, within a few inches of where there’s snow and Mother Earth.” Okemo Mountain Ops EXPERIENCE IS THE OKEMO DIFFERENCE! - continued from page 55 - - continued on page 59 - Okemo VP of Mountain Operations Eb Kinney works with a year-round operations team to deliver The Okemo Difference. okemo.com > 802-228-1600 > page 57