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81. Saturday, March 9th

Hello from the past! ⏳ This is Abby speaking to you from the multiverse, which is really just me preparing the snow report on my couch at 9:28 p.m. last night. In my universe, we have unlimited ski lodge french fries, charcuterie-filled Candy Mailboxes (for the moms), and a lot more snow than your universe. 🍟🍭☃️ It's pretty great here.

As a way to give Noah and myself a day off, I've prepared for you a very special and long-awaited snow report all about why Wardance is ALWAYS closed. 🤔 Just kidding, it's really about the Okemo Mountain School and getting to know what really goes behind those closed race trails and debunking some myths about race culture.

Thank you to Mariel Meringolo, the headmaster of OMS, (who made me look like a terrible skier with her graceful turns), and for allowing me to interview you to get to know this amazing ski and snowboard academy in my backyard. Keep reading, I promise you'll find it interesting. ⬇️

I felt like I was stepping onto a Hollywood movie set as Mariel led me under the closed gates onto Wardance. 🎬 As a huge Wardance fan, I was psyched to get permission to see the behind-the-scenes of the training and enjoy a few turns down the "best trail on the mountain", even though we only think that because it's a treat when it's open for the public. 😆 Though, it's important that race trails remain closed to the public primarily because it's a safety concern. So, don't cut under that rope on Upper Wardance... it's there for your and the athlete's safety. 🤝


The OMS coaches spent hours preparing Wardance for both GS and Slalom course training that morning. Between the gates, tidying up the snow surface, and fencing, there's a lot more that goes into it than meets the eye. 👁️ It was impressive to listen and watch the coaches interact and communicate with each other for an efficient and safe training day.


Today's Quick Facts:

🏔️ Trail Count: 88/122

🚡 Lift Count: 12/20

🎿 Ski of the Day: Nordica Santa Ana

🧥 Gear of the Day: Helly Hansen Shell


The student-athletes were laying down majestic deep carve turns in the soft snow. Just watching them made my 28-year-old knees hurt. The snow was actually too soft, making the conditions, not race day accurate. To fix this, the coaches were spreading out Urea, a specific type of salt to help freeze up the snow and force it into a more normal race trail condition. 🧂 The racers were working on technical skills like ankle flexion, pole plants, weight transfer, center of mass targeting, and soooooo much more. I guess didn't realize how much intention goes into ski racing. The support of the coaches was very cool to experience too as they called out "weight transfer!" or "yesssssss!". 💪


I found myself thinking about putting myself in the athlete's shoes, well, ski boots. 😉 In my teenage years, I never even had half of their dedication. These student-athletes are so clearly committed to their craft. After they train all morning, they have to go back to school for Science or Math class, and they go happily! Why? Because OMS has created an environment that excites and empowers these students to become the best version of themselves. 🥰


Pro Tip: Offer to take a SnowStar up on the chairlift and help out the instructor!


Mariel talked about increasing local participation. 👏 OMS applies to EpicPromise to get 5 Competition Center enrollment fees covered for local kids. OMS now has a student at the school from this program, and they hope to continue to see an increase in students coming from the community and into the program.


She also shared that her athletes have access to a Sports Psychologist to get support for things like race day anxiety. It's very cool to hear that OMS takes mental health seriously and approaches the topic with such normalcy. Love that. ❤️


To close, OMS flies under the radar as far as local hotspots go, but it's really a core element of the town. 🫶 OMS helps continue the love of skiing through generations. They help get local kids on the mountain and perform at high levels in college and beyond. They offer a space for kids to find their passion, learn real-life values, and grow. I'm blown away and so proud of Mariel, the coaches, the teachers, and the student-athletes. Cheers to you, OMS!


Buy your ticket for the Ludlow Farmers Market Depot Street Block Party Fundraiser on 3/20 at 5 p.m. 🎉 Tickets are $20 online or $25 at the door. Your ticket gets you access to local food, cocktails, mocktails, live music, plus, Noah and Abby of Unofficial Okemo will be there with merch! Click here to get your ticket! 🚨


(Photo taken on 3/8/24 when it was much sunnier in your universe.)


"It's about giving the kids a safe space where they can be the only one on the track without the possibility for collision. It's all about safety for us."- Mariel"Live in the moment."- Ted from the Top


Last but not least, snow is coming, we think. It could be a lot (like a foot of snow at the summit) or it could miss us. It's so up in the air, we can't say too much about it, but all I know is that if our 1,350+ subscribers did a snow dance, we could make something happen. ❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️

Please follow the Uphill Travel Policy at Okemo, follow the rules, and be cool about it.

Think snow,

Abby & Lauren







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