Vermont’s Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott got hands-on experience in the art and science of making snow while working his latest “Vermont Everyday Job” at Sugarbush Resort in Warren, Vt., on Monday.
With much of the nation on vacation for the holidays, and the first major snowfall of the season slated for Monday night and Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Scott arrived at the mountain to find the entire team at Sugarbush hard at work – and happy about it.
“Everyone I saw was excited,” said Lt. Gov. Scott. “These Vermonters love to make snow. One man I met has been doing it for 16 years and keeps coming back every year to be part of the team. There are so many people who have been working in different capacities at Sugarbush for years, or even decades, which really speaks to the sense of teamwork and belief in their product and mission.”
Upon arrival, Lt. Gov. Scott went right to work with the snowmaking team after getting properly outfitted with mountaineering boots, a jacket and a helmet in preparation for the cold, snowy work. Under the guidance of Sugarbush snow services manager Mike Wing, Lt. Gov. Scott helped make snow on the beginner terrain and prepared trails for Tuesday morning.
“With the lowest early season snowfall totals in decades, snowmaking is essential to keeping Vermont’s winter economy on track,” said Sugarbush owner and president Win Smith. “Thanks to our new low-energy equipment we can now put down 43 acres of snow with a one-foot depth in just 24 hours. Vermont ski areas have some of the very best snowmaking, and snowmakers, in the world. This will be our competitive advantage in the many weeks of skiing and snowboarding ahead.”
As the lieutenant governor quickly learned, making snow involves a lot more than just blowing it onto the trails. “It’s an art and a science combined into one,” he said. “You combine the perfect balance of water, compressed air and cold temps and then position the snow gun to make piles of snow. Then these enormous piles settle for a day or two before they are groomed into perfect snow.”
Much of the science happens in the pump house and control room, where there is constant communication between the person at the controls and the crews on the mountain. “It’s all regulated from that one room,” said Lt. Gov. Scott. “That one person is making sure the pumps are all working properly for the snow guns, and that they’re scaled up or down depending on the needs of those making snow. It looked like something from the Starship Enterprise!”
“I enjoyed working with Lt. Governor Scott, and I think he learned a lot about what it takes to run a snowmaking system from the on-hill operation to the control room,” Mike Wing said.
The snow guns were still blasting when Lt. Gov. Scott wrapped up for the evening, and the excitement was still in the air.
“I saw so many people working, but also a lot of children coming out to slide on the snow. Sugarbush even set up lights so the kids could keep playing into the evening. It was a festive atmosphere,” he said. “The last 48 hours seem to have made a huge difference in the morale because they can see there’s snow at the end of the tunnel.”
Resort officials say that, with a combination of snowmaking and natural snowfall, Sugarbush will be open top-to-bottom at both mountains Wednesday with 22 trails.
Monday’s work at the Warren ski resort is part of Lt. Gov. Scott’s Everyday Jobs Initiative, which he started in 2011. Scott has worked more than 35 such jobs so far in a wide variety of organizations, ranging from beekeeping to manufacturing to health care. These hands-on experiences give Scott a personal appreciation for how state government can address the true concerns and needs of Vermont businesses, their owners and employees.