Though COVID-19 has complicated issues for some troubled areas, others are expected to reopen for the first time in years.
Thursday, October 29, 2020, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com
As the most uncertain ski season in modern history approaches, information is beginning to emerge about areas on the bubble.
Two years after the death of its longtime owner Rod Taylor, Woodbury ceased operations in 2016. Though were efforts made to continue operations, the plug was pulled in 2019. With the area closed and on the market, there are no known plans to operate in 2020-21.
Ski Blandford, Massachusetts
After decades of continuous operation, Ski Blandford was shuttered for the 2017-18 season. Though the ownership of Ski Butternut was able to restore and reopen the area for two seasons, Blandford closed in March 2020. Refunds were issued to early purchasing season passholders by the end of April. There are no known plans to reopen the ski area.
After being on the market for years with an uncertain future, Bousquet was acquired by Mill Town Capital in May. The new ownership brought in the management of Berkshire East and Catamount to rebuild the aging ski area. In addition to lodge and snowmaking improvements, a triple chairlift is currently being installed, replacing two aging double chairlifts. Bousquet will be included on the Berkshire East-Catamount Summit Pass this winter.
Eaton Mountain, Maine
After more than a decade of bad luck and struggles, Eaton did not open for the 2019-20 season. Though a non-profit is being formed to reopen the ski area, it is not expected to operate this winter.
Mt. Jefferson, Maine
Located in Central Maine, Mt. Jefferson has been reliant upon natural snow throughout its half-century-plus history. In January 2020, the area cancelled its season "due to unforeseen circumstances and lack of snow." When contacted this month, a representative for the ski area confirmed that Mt. Jefferson does plan to operate this winter.
Following half a decade of closure, Saddleback instantly turned into a hotbed of activity this summer when Arctaris Impact Fund took over the Western Maine resort. In addition to reclaiming overgrown trails and renovating the base lodge, the new ownership has installed a new high speed quad, which will be ready to roll for the grand reopening this year.
Gateway Hills, New Hampshire
Located in an office park near Nashua, Gateway Hills was the first net-new public ski area developed in New England in years. With a vertical drop of 40 feet and a lone magic carpet, the tiny ski area operated without snowmaking. After two short seasons of operation, the area did not operate in 2018-19 or 2019-20. The area's web site and Facebook page are now offline. Gateway Hills did not respond to inquiries about the future of the ski area.
Granite Gorge, New Hampshire
Reopened in 2003 on the site of the former Pinnacle ski area east of Keene, Granite Gorge perhaps peaked in around 2011, when a chairlift was in operation with snowmaking and night skiing. Financial and equipment struggles resulted in operations being limited to surface lifts in recent years. Owner Fred Baybutt passed away unexpectedly in early August, leaving the future of the ski area in doubt. A Granite Gorge representative confirmed that the ski area will not operate this winter.
After being unloaded with the unraveling of the American Skiing Company, Haystack has been limited to private operations. Jim Barnes of the Hermitage Inn acquired the resort in 2011, transforming it into a club and rapidly expanding it with two quad chairlifts, a six person bubble, and an 80,000 square foot lodge. With debts mounting, the club was placed in receivership in 2018 and has not operated since. In March 2020, a group of club members acquired the resort. The group is moving forward with reopening the ski area on a private basis, recently announcing that the trails will revert to their original names, eschewing the music theme adopted in recent years.