Fayston, Vermont - January 18, 2012
Mad River Glen-- it's a prideful ski resort unlike any other, complete with arguably the Northeast's best tagline.
"Ski it if you can right! The famous slogan-- right!" said Terry Barbour of Mad River Glen.
But for most of this season so far, you couldn't. The ski co-op's claim to fame is an all-natural ski experience with almost no snowmaking and grooming.
"The rewards are tremendous. The life that is in natural snow. Once you experience skiing in natural snow, you just want to always be on natural snow," Barbour said.
In the absence of the natural stuff, Mad River was closed for most of the start of this season.
"It's not as much fun when there's no snow. It just gets awfully noisy on the bottom of your skis," skier Bob Craige said.
Before Martin Luther King Day, the ski area's iconic single chair lift ran for a grand total of just three days. With all the snow last week, it's been running every day since Friday.
Two storms in as many days last week completely turned the season around at Mad River. Almost a foot and a half of new snow took the closed resort to virtually 100 percent open.
"It's good to be back here. Everyone's really excited," skier Scott Rosenblum said. "You never know what to expect here. One day it will be terrible and the next day it will be epic."
Of course you won't see a snowboarder at Mad River. It one of just three resorts nationwide that doesn't allow riders. That made for a long day on the hill for our photographer Mark Clement, who gave up his board and clicked into some skis for the first time.
Conditions on the natural snow are just fine. The coverage is still a bit thin in places; you'll find some water bars, icy spots and other classic Mad River Glen obstacles. You'll need to keep your eyes open and use the Mad River method-- ski around.
"Mad River skiers are hard-core skiers. They understand we're dealing with Mother Nature. We rejoice when he blesses us with snow, we weep when she's not!" Barbour said.
Hopefully more celebration than tears from here on out.
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