Ski notebook

Backcountry trails still a hit with Goodman

By Marty Basch
Globe Correspondent / November 25, 2010

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More than 20 years ago, David Goodman spent a winter living out of his Dodge Dart and skiing New England’s wild backcountry. The result was a book of 33 ski tours called “Classic Backcountry Skiing’’ published in 1989 that turned the ’82 Harvard grad into a free-heeling cult hero leading followers into places like Mount Washington’s Tuckerman Ravine, faded Mount Mansfield trails, and Mount Greylock.

After three years of skiing and research, often with his teenage daughter and her friends during school vacations, the Waterbury Center, Vt., writer has released a reincarnation of the classic, a 50-ski tour book called “Best Backcountry Skiing in the Northeast’’ (Appalachian Mountain Club Books).

“As I got underway, I found that virtually everything had changed,’’ said Goodman, 50.

Some trails have simply faded away while others have been renamed, rerouted, and lost to development. But others have emerged.

“The big picture is very much what it has always been,’’ he said. “The Northeast is home to some of the best backcountry terrain and ski history anywhere in the country.’’

The new guide book continues to express Goodman’s love of New England ski history and his detailed descriptions of each outing. Gone from those in the original tome are tours like Woodstock, Vermont’s Skyline Trail (“casualty of modern development’’), New Hampshire’s Carter Dome (“fun for snowshoes, but more survival for skiers’’) and a tour in Nancy and Norcross Ponds (“I suffered so you don’t have to’’).

Maine had been a problematic state for Goodman in the past as many of the wild lands are owned by paper companies so trails would come and go with logging. But with the growth of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s 100-Mile Wilderness lodge-to-lodge trails and the Maine Huts and Trails system, “Maine suddenly is emerging as the hut-to-hut ski capital of the East,’’ he said.

Goodman believes in a backcountry skiing resurgence because of better equipment, more detailed maps and guide books, and the homogenization of the ski industry. “I think a wilderness experience feeds your soul,’’ he said.

Canyons connections It’s no secret eastern skiers and snowboarders migrate to western resorts for work, play, and competition. At the Canyons in Park City, Utah, there’s Bay State connections.

Once part of the American Skiing Company empire that included New England areas such as Sunday River, Attitash, and Killington, four of 20 skiers and snowboarders on the resort’s Freeride Team have Massachusetts roots.

US Snowboard Team boardercross rider Jonathan Cheever from Saugus, freeskier Matthew Philippi (’09 European Open pipe winner) from Charlestown, Lexington’s freeskiing Alice Gong, and Sudbury’s Rebekah Abrams cement the team that includes Tom Flocco from Stratham, N.H., a second-place US Open big air finisher in 1999.

What’s the appeal? Freeride Team manager Dave March, who hails from Amesbury, lauds the West’s sun, powder, and wide-open terrain.

Freeman’s strong start Kris Freeman opened the World Cup season with a top-10 finish in the men’s 15-kilometer freestyle in Gallivare, Sweden Saturday. The US Ski Team member from Andover, N.H., placed ninth in 33:09.10 in a race won by Sweden’s Marcus Hellner (32:26.00) . . . The Tin Mountain Round Up comes to Sugarloaf Saturday and Sunday when lift tickets are $30 with a donation of at least three cans of food . . . Work off that Thanksgiving turkey at Okemo’s Trot It Off 5K Saturday . . . Jack Turner’s ski movie spoof, “Cheap Ski Movie,’’ is screening tomorrow at Stratton . . . Sunday River has demo days Saturday and Sunday along with Saturday’s 5th Annual TBD Open rail jam . . . Loon’s Cease and Desist Ski and Ride Rail Jam is Saturday . . . Warren Miller’s latest film, “Wintervention,’’ comes to Bretton Woods Friday . . . Cranmore’s new mountain coaster begins regular operations tomorrow.

New ownership ends feud In New Hampshire, Wildcat Mountain has changed hands since last season, and is now owned and operated by Peak Resorts. Since Peak also owns neighboring Attitash, this ends the long-standing rivalry between the two Mt. Washington Valley resorts. Shared Attitash/Wildcat value cards and joint season passes are already on sale. Also at Wildcat, there are two new black-diamond trails (Leo’s Leap and Sphynx), and new tree-skiing territory . . . Cranmore has launched a $6 million renovation program, including the addition of a new quad, the relocation of the existing South chair to the Beginner Basin, and the relocation/expansion of the tubing park to 10 lanes . . . Cannon has installed the double chairlift at the recently reopened Mittersill Backcountry Area . . . At Ragged Mountain, a new recreational race course will be open Wednesdays through Sundays . . . Bretton Woods has opened 30 acres of gladed terrain by expanding onto Mt. Stickney, and also has a new no-charge public slalom course . . . The Nov. 30 deadline is looming for grant applications to the Friends of New Hampshire Skiing program. Granite State-affiliated competitive skiers and snowboarders are awarded financial assistance based on need, athletic performance, and ability to be in serious contention for a national team or the equivalent. Check for details.

Sign up for 10 years Talk about long-term planning: Saddleback in Maine has begun selling the Decade Pass. For $5,000, you get unlimited skiing and riding for 10 consecutive years . . . Shawnee Peak has installed what it calls the state’s first loading-conveyor system at its new Summit Triple Chair. According to management, the system allows the chair to run 25 percent faster . . . Immediate family members of Vermonters currently serving in, or about to deploy to, Afghanistan or Iraq are entitled to free season passes, free afternoon lessons, and a 50 percent discount on rentals at Jay Peak . . . Okemo, once known for a having the longest Pomalift in North America, is in the process of dismantling and mothballing the Snow Star Poma, to be replaced with a magic-carpet style surface lift that is safer for young skiers in the learning area . . . Smugglers’ Notch Resort will debut what is billed as Vermont’s first zip line canopy tour, located near the resort village . . . Wachusett Mountain, which already offers a commuter rail connection, is expanding public transportation options with bus service from Boston and Worcester. . . . Jiminy Peak has posted a slew of season-long e-coupon deals at