Fresh powder beckons as ski races approach

By John HitchcockPrint Story | Email Story
Finally things came together the past weekend with the rare combination of warmer weather, good traveling conditions and fresh powder snow. The results: lots of ear-to-ear smiles on resort operators’ faces, as well as the advocates of snow sliding. Even the Mount Greylock Ski Club rope tow complex at Goodell Hollow in South Williamstown was open, as well as all ski touring centers. The next eight days will mark the end of frigid weather as a rule, with the Presidents’ Week beginning Feb. 14, and hordes of sliders will mean packed powder as a rule. Spring skiing will mean widely varying conditions, ranging from slush to frozen granular, but including delicious corn snow and dumps of powder. There are also season-ending high school championships in the coming days, as well as the last remaining major ski jumping contests. The first will be the 78th annual Salisbury (Connecticut) Invitational and U.S. Eastern Ski Jump Championships Saturday and Sunday. Practice jumps will begin at 11 a.m. each day, with the competition starting at 1 p.m. Not to be outdone, the 82nd annual Brattleboro (Vt.) Jumps will be held Feb. 14 and 15. Call 802-257-7174 for details. Willy Graves, son of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Graves of Pownal, Vt., is one of the favorites at each competition. He lives and trains at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid, N.Y. Peter Graves, who skied for Mount Anthony High in Bennington, is the commentator at various national and international sporting events, including the Olympics at Athens, Greece, next August. Most U.S. resorts save Presidents’ Week for paying recreational skiers, boarders and tubers, so the coming few days will be crowded with competitive events. The Bay State Winter Games this weekend will include the high school giant slalom at Jiminy Peak in Hancock Sunday, with well over 200 boys and girls taking two runs for a full day. Contact 781-932-6555. The Berkshire High School cross-country series will feature the annual Coaches’ Invitational Saturday at the Mount Greylock High course, with the Massachusetts Championships coming up Feb. 11 at Hickory Hill in Worthington. For the first time in decades, the state high school Alpine Championships will not be at Berkshire East in Charlemont, but much closer to the Eastern Mass schools, at Wachusett Mountain in Princeton Feb. 25. The ski resort is in the Wachusett State Reservation and is operated by the Crowley Family (perhaps better known for its Polar Beverages Company in Worcester) under a lease with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (formerly Department of Environmental Management). The ski resort is one of the highest rated in the Northeast and is the closest major ski center to the Boston and Worcester markets. As one of only two ski resorts operating on state land (the other is Butternut Basin in Great Barrington) Wachusett falls under the scrutiny of numerous conservation groups, and the Crowleys face strong opposition whenever they propose any expansion. Original plans for new ski trails resulted in a decade-long battle to prevent the cutting of any “old growth” trees, and the proposal was dropped. Finally the state approved a 10-acre terrain park and part of it is open now, with final work expected this summer. The Wachusett battle could serve as a guideline to the same organizations that oppose any commercial project on the state-owned Greylock Glen site in Adams. Back at Berkshire East, operator Roy Schaefer said he will still have many races, including the Pioneer Valley Championships Feb. 11. Top cross-country skiers of all ages will be in action Saturday at Notchview Reservation in Windsor for the Banknorth Eastern Cup 5-and 10-kilometer events. Advance registration is required at www.NENSA.net . The races are sponsored by the Berkshire Trails Nordic Ski Club. Notchview will also hold a 10-k race open to all on Feb. 28 at 10 a.m., with the 17th annual Bread n’Jam Ski Race March 6 at 10 a.m. Home-baked goods will be awarded as prizes. Cheshire’s Bret Bedard raced a few years ago at Notchview and for the Hoosac Valley High team for a year, when he won the state championship. Then he transferred to Stratton Mountain School and was recently chosen for the U.S. Team in the World Junior Championships at Stryn, Norway. Younger brother Steven is a freshman at Hoosac and is a strong member of the XC team, which has won the school title at all of the weekly races. Snowshoe racing is on the move, with the Western Mass Athletic Club holding weekly contests, including one at Northfield Mountain Saturday and one at Camp Saratoga in New York Feb. 14. Then there will be races at the Hawley State Forest Feb. 21; the Covered Bridge Race in Adams, Feb. 28; again at Hawley March 6 and the final event, the second annual Moby Dick Race March 14 in Lanesboro. For details, www.runwmac.com (click the snowshoe button). The second annual Curly’s Run Jan. 25 at Pittsfield State Forest drew the largest field of the winter, with 118 in action on a frigid morning. Richard Bolt of Manchester, N.H., was the overall winner in 28 minutes and 17 seconds. Kelli Lusk of Amherst was the top female and 11th overall in 36:38. Some 50 persons, many new to the sport, took part Saturday in a snowshoe demo staged by Bob Dion of Readsboro, Vt., who manufactures and sells Dion Snowshoes. The program was at Windsor Lake, where the running trails are busy spots for winter activities. The fun will continue tomorrow (Friday) evening at Sheep Hill in Williamstown, new home of the Rural Lands Foundation. Director Leslie Reed-Evans will guide visitors around the 55-acre property, once the hot place to ski before World War II when the Rosenburg family operated a rope tow. Refreshments will be served. And the Mountain Goat staff in Williamstown will lead a snowshoe trip to Bald Mountain in Bennington Sunday. Call 458-8445 for details. Most outdoor stores, including Saddle Ball on Main Street in North Adams (co-sponsor of the Windsor Lake demo) rent snowshoes these days. Last week’s column on legendary ski teacher Mike Catrambone contained two errors. Mike is 79, not 70. He left Drury High in his senior year after a stint on the football team to enlist in the Navy, where he was a gunner on a transport ship unloading troops during the invasion of France. And his early mentor, 10th Mountain Division veteran Gordon Lowe, now lives in North Hero, Vt., not far from Canada. Now in his 80s, Lowe no longer skis, but he still plays golf frequently at the Stowe Country Club, which he managed for years, along with the Spruce Peak Ski Area. Bill Lesser of Williamstown, who died in an auto accident in Naples, Fla., recently, was an amazing athlete at 87 and was a leader in the senior tennis league at Williams, as well as a stellar golfer. He frequently played tennis in the morning and then put in 9 or 18 on the Taconic Golf Course in the afternoon. He also played squash and started there when the Williams courts opened some 70 years ago. And Bill skied at Sheep Hill in 1935, the year before the tow was installed. Certainly the senior athlete of the past decade in Williamstown! For the younger set, the Oceola Park rope tow in Pittsfield will run weekends through February, as well as during vacation week. Call 499-9343. Add Butternut to the list of ski areas offering snow tubing, with several lanes open Friday from 4 to 8, weekends and holidays from 11 to 8. John Hitchcock of Williamstown writes frequently about the area sports scene.
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Cultural Pittsfield This Week: Aug. 2-8

Enjoy 18 different art shows featuring work by more than two dozen accomplished regional and student artists in Pittsfield's bustling Upstreet Cultural District during the First Friday Artswalk and all month long! 
 
In most venues, artists will be present from 5-8 p.m. A free guided tour begins at 5 p.m. at the Intermodal Center @ BRTA, 1 Columbus Ave.
 
The Lichtenstein Center for the Arts will host HAPPY, an abstract art show by Jesse Tobin McCauley for the month of August. There will be an opening reception during First Fridays Artswalk from 5-8 p.m. The exhibit runs through August 31.
 
Kids and teens, pick up the August 2nd Scavenger Hunt flyer for a chance to win a prize! Grab yours at the Artswalk table in Crawford Square, 137 North St., during the Artswalk or print one from the website.
  MUSIC & NIGHTLIFE
Berkshires Jazz brings five of the most popular regional bands to the stage for the 2019 Berkshire Jazz Showcase, on the Pittsfield Common from 12-5 p.m. The wide-ranging lineup for this jazz extravaganza includes Gina Coleman and Misty Blues, Paul Green and Two Worlds, Andy Wrba's Berkshire Jazz Collective,
First Take with Mary Ann Palermo and the Kyle Murray Quintet. FREE.
Hancock Shaker Village welcomes Berkshire Opera Festival as they pay homage to American opera by composers such as Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland and Carlisle Floyd. The recital, "Ain't it a Pretty Night," will feature soprano Caroline Worra, tenor John Riesen and pianist Lynn Baker will explore this essential part of the musical fabric of our country. 7:30 p.m. $18-$25.
Plus...  
FRI WordXWord Festival: Crosstalk at Tyler Street Lab | FRI Grahm Sturz at Hotel on North FRI Blue Light Trio at Rainbow | FRI Anthony Luchi at Rusty Anchor | FRI Sawyer Country at Proprietor's Lodge | FRI Karaoke Night at Friends | SAT WordXWord Festival: Accomplice[d] at Berkshire Museum | SAT Orin Swift Cellars Wine Tasting at Hotel on North | SAT Melissa Brinton at Rusty Anchor | SAT Jason & Trev at J. Allen's | SAT Uncensored Comedy Show at Uncorked | SUN Country Dance w/Spurs USA at Italian American Club | SUN-MON Marilyn Maye at Barrington Stage | MON Jazz Night at Mission | TUE Wintergreen at Springside Park | TUE Open Mic Night at O'Laughlin's | WED Live on the Lake: Generation X at Onota Lake | WED Gruppo Mondo at Rainbow | THU Deja Again at Mazzeo's | THU Abandoned Building Brewery Beer Dinner at Hotel on North | THU The Picky B's at Mission
  FAMILY FRIENDLY

Based on the Oscar-winning DreamWorks animated film, Shrek The Musical is a Tony Award-winning fairytale adventure featuring all new songs from Jeanine Tesori (Thoroughly Modern Millie) and a side-splitting book by David Lindsay-Abaire. Shrek brings all the beloved characters you know from the film to the stage and proves there's more to the story than meets the ears. The Colonial Theatre through August 9. $35 and up.
 
Plus...
ONGOING Hansel & Gretel at Berkshire Museum FRI WeeMuse: Adventures at Berkshire Museum FRI Designing with da Vinci at Berkshire Museum FRI Yoga for Kids at Berkshire Athenaeum FRI-THU Parenting Classes & Play Groups at 18 Degrees (formerly Berkshire Children & Families) SAT WeeMuse: Art Lab at Berkshire Museum SAT Health & Wellness Fair at 18 Degrees (formerly Berkshire Children & Families) SAT Chow Time at Berkshire Museum SAT Designing with da Vinci at Berkshire Museum SAT Child & Family Yoga at Onota Lake SAT da Vinci After Hours at Berkshire Museum SUN Discovery Tank Program at Berkshire Museum | MON Exploring Our World at Berkshire Museum MON Kindergarten Countdown at Berkshire Athenaeum MON Star Lab at Berkshire Athenaeum MON Cones with a Cop on The Common MON Stardust Cafe at Berkshire Athenaeum MON Swan Lake Dance Intensive at Cantarella School of Dance MON Auditions for Magic Tree House Kids at The Colonial MON+ KidsAct! at Barrington Stage TUE WeeMuse: Littlest Learners at Berkshire Museum TUE Designing with da Vinci at Berkshire Museum TUE Princess Songs & Popsicle Party at The Whitney TUE Project SpaceCRAFT: Planet Pinch Pots at Be TUE Screening of Monsters vs Aliens at Berkshire Athenaeum WED Little Gardeners of the Galaxy at Berkshire Athenaeum WED Uncharted Wild Animal Show at Berkshire Athenaeum WED Tie Dye on the Terrace at Berkshire Athenaeum | WED Creative Healing Workshop w/Funky Phoenix at Berkshire Museum THU Farm Friends at Hancock Shaker Village | THU Exploring Our World at Berkshire Museum THU Designing with da Vinci at Berkshire Museum THU Story Time at Berkshire Athenaeum THU Lego Lift Off at Berkshire Athenaeum
  WELLNESS
SAT Outdoor Yoga & Zumba at Onota Lake
 
Join Rachael from Berkshire Yoga Dance & Fitness every 1st and 3rd Saturday (June through August) for outdoor yoga and Zumba classes at Burbank Park on Onota Lake. Yoga begins at 9 a.m. and Zumba at 10:15 a.m. Come to one class or both! $10 suggested donation per class. Rain cancels.
Plus...
FRI-THU Various Classes at Berkshire Running Center | FRI-THU Various Classes at Berkshire Family YMCA | FRI-THU Various Classes at Berkshire Yoga Dance & Fitness FRI-THU Various Classes at Radiance Yoga | FRI-THU Various Classes at Berkshire Salsa FRI-THU Various Classes at Pilates Fit | SAT Sunrise Yoga on the Deck at Rusty Anchor | SUN Guido's Great 8 Road Race | TUE Summer Fit Training at Berkshire Yoga Dance & Fitness | THU Outdoor Yoga at Onota Lake
  PERFORMANCE
ONGOING If I Forget at Barrington Stage
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