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Stop No. 4 - Okemo

Our tour of snow sports schools leads to Okemo and the complete package in Vermont.

With so much snow remaining up north, Grace and I on Saturday decided to continue our tour of snow sports schools within a reasonable distance of north central Connecticut.

Grace is my 5-year-old daughter who has had three different lessons in three different places so far and has already progressed to the point where she is comfortably riding the chairlift  and is becoming adept as controlling her speed and making multiple consecutive turns on each run.

It was definitely time to head to Vermont and Okemo Mountain Resort

Okemo lies in Ludlow, Vt., a classic skiing and snowboarding village that lies between Springfield and Rutland - exits 6 and 7 on Interstate 91 - about two hours and 20 minutes away. It's in the southern part of central Vermont, if that makes sense, far enough north to get the big-mountain feel, but close enough to rank just two out of 10 on the ''Are we there yet?'' scale.

Okemo has always had a family-friendly reputation, but over the years, as it has continued to expand its amenities. It has become one of the premier destinations for residents of north central Connecticut.

Case in point: I met a husband and wife whose 5-year-old son was in the same Snow Stars class as Grace. They are both publishing consultants for the medical industry and said they are growing weary of high New Jersey taxes and are currently researching communities in north central Connecticut, specifically mentioning Vernon.

They said visited Okemo for February vacation and liked it so much, they bought a quarter-share at the Jackson Gore development. They were overjoyed that their drive time would be cut in half if they made the move.

Jackson Gore was where Grace and I found ourselves on Saturday. It is the newest of four major areas and the newest of three primary lodging hubs at the resort.

Grace practiced the usual turning and speed control with a set of drills made fun by pleasant staff members. But one drill I was particularly impressed with was practicing how to get up on your own after a spill, a key element once a child progresses to the green summit runs.

But that's Okemo - covering all the bases.

The Jackson Gore learning area is a testament to that. WIth three primary learning areas, three Magic Carpet lifts and a high-speed chair that goes halfway up the mountain, it has something for every ability. The summit runs allow parents to witness the kids from a reasonable distance. 

The ski and snow sports facilities are spacious and offer young people everything. The boots, skis, boards and helmets in the rental inventory are the newest stuff available.

To break up the day, young skiers and riders can play in the "Bigloo," a large snow fort at the Jackson Gore base area.

Psst … when Grace was in her morning session, I did several black runs at Jackson Gore, at solitude, the main mountain and even the glades at South Face.

Condition-wise, it's an epic spring season that's not over.  

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the final Snow Business regular column of the season, but you may see one pop up on Patch during the warmer weather months, especially if we have a cool new snow sports product to review. Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this column this season, please let us know. Leave a comment or email editor Chris Dehnel at chris.dehnel@patch.com.

Korina Moss April 06, 2011 at 08:20 PM
My six year old son went skiing for the very first time at Okemo and loved it! It's so important to have a good first experience. It's my husband's favorite ski spot and now my son's too.
Josh Freeman April 06, 2011 at 08:45 PM
Okemo has a conveyor lift at the clock tower base area as well. Combines the surface lift with a chair lift and greatly reduces the stress involved with riding a lift for the first time (for young or old). You just stand on the moving carpet and the chair comes to you as you slide along. All you do is sit and then at the top, you just stand up and the conveyor moves you away from the lift. Simple... http://www.okemo.com/okemowinter/ourmountain/faq.asp has a video of it.
Chris Dehnel (Editor) April 06, 2011 at 11:16 PM
Josh points out correctly that Okemo has Magic Carpet lifts on both sides of the resort.

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