By Sarah Tuff Dunn
There’s a dish at Okemo’s Coleman Brook Tavern that pretty much sums up the experience of skiing at this Ludlow, Vermont, resort: it’s called s’mores, but it’s unlike the mess you make while camping. Instead, a tidy package of graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows comes with its own burner, drawing families like, well, moths to a flame at the Jackson Gore base area after a day of skiing.
That’s just a taste of what to expect at the Nature Valley Eastern Championships, scheduled for Jan. 29 to 31. True, the Clock Tower Base Area (rather than Jackson Gore) will be the base of operations, but plenty of sweet surprises still await racers.
“Okemo’s been making snow, and the hill is in great shape,” reports Okemo Race Director Peter Cornish, who’s expecting up to 300 racers and guest for Eastern Regionals.
It’s hardly Okemo’s first NASTAR rodeo. The resort’s been hosting NASTAR races since the late 1960s, and the program took off in the 70s thanks to a push by Okemo Ski School director Hans Folie. In the 1979-80 season, NASTAR named Okemo “Promoter of the Year” because of a 34 percent jump in participation. That was further boosted by a shift of the race hill from a steep trail to the more visible and more manageable Bull Run, which remains the NASTAR racing venue today.
Racers who’ve come out of NASTAR and junior race programs at Okemo include Julia Ford, Kermit Upton, Marc Stuart, George Merrell, Ken Tofferi, Taylor Watts, G.W. Watts, Frankie Pace, Brian Pace and Alex Krebs.
“NASTAR has felt that we do a great job in hosting ski races,” says Cornish, “and now we’ve done the regional championships the last four years, and it’s been a great Eastern event.”
Making it even greater this year will be race clinics and freeskiing with AJ Kitt, along with the Rick Davis Band playing during the awards and dinner reception on Jan. 30. Leave room for s’mores.