COPAKE – The parking lot was nearly full at Catamount Ski Area on Sunday, February 7, and the slopes were alive with skiers. Standing at the base of the hill and watching the skiers, Catamount Vice-President Rich Edwards admitted that due to the abnormally warm winter, the season has been a challenge.
“Unprecedented,” he called it, going on to say, “I think it’s the first time we didn’t sell a single lift ticket in December. The Christmas to New Year’s holiday was completely lost.” He acknowledged the heroic efforts of the snow-making and grooming team who have gotten 30 trails open.
“We’ve been skiing now for four weeks, adjusting the snow-making and fighting the marginal temperatures,” he said.
Looking around at all the people in their bright suits, skis and boards, he said, “There are a lot of happy people here, they haven’t given up on winter and we’re certainly not– there’s a lot more winter between now and the end of March.”
On the hill’s central slope directly in front of the chalet, a ski race was in progress, Catamount’s edition of the Berkshire Interclub Race. It is a league consisting of young racers age 7-15 organized in teams from the Blandford, Bousquet, Butternut, Catamount and Otis ski areas. Each hill hosts the race on one of five consecutive Sundays in January and February.
Of the hundreds of competitors who sped through the gates on Sunday, the fastest combined time was logged by Nico Capala of Spencertown. He races for the Catamount Race Club, is 14 years old and has been racing since he was 9.
“This is my home mountain, and the first time I’ve actually finished…I expected more from the first races but there was a problem with my ski, but my coach fixed it,” he said.