The Storm Skiing Podcast #3 | Download this episode on iTunes and Google Play | Read the full overview at skiing.substack.com.
Who: Jeremy Davis, Founder of the New England Lost Ski Areas Project (NELSAP)
Why I interviewed him: In college I discovered a ski areas of Michigan map from the 1970s with photos of dudes wearing sweaters and no helmets or even hats and smiling and jumping and I was surprised to find several mountains dotted along the highway grid that I had never heard of, since I had heard of every operating ski area in the state. It had never occurred to me that something so substantial as a ski area could go bust, but there they were, once marked and now deleted. I figured every state must have five or six such areas. Man did I underestimate. NELSAP has logged more than 600 lost ski areas in New England and another 65 in New York. So don’t hire me to count things. Instead, listen to Davis, who’s been on the case for more than two decades and keeps discovering new lost areas and writing books about them.
What we talked about: The abandoned ski area that stoked his passion; why people care so much about these places; why this gigantic and impossible task fell on him, Some Dude on the Internet, and not like The Historical Society of Snowsportsskiing or some similarly named Official Organization; the part of tracking down lost ski areas that is like being some kind of hill-trekking Indiana Jones; why the absence in many cases of physical artifacts for, say, a ski area that operated for four days in 1958 and never again makes it imperative that we document this stuff now before everyone who remembers them is gone; the most impactful or interesting ski area losses in New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont; the happiest once-lost-and-now-found ski area stories; the lost ski area with the smallest vertical drop of them all (31 feet!); a lost ski area you can explore; why Ascutney is still cool even though it’s a fraction of its peak size; the most likely lost ski area candidates to rise from the dead; lost ski areas you can explore; why the private ski area model a la Hermitage Club hasn’t worked out for the most part in the Northeast; why some small ski areas continue to thrive in the mega-pass era; the man-that-would-have-been-incredible proposed large ski areas that were never developed because they couldn’t get funding or environmental approval or for any number of other reasons; how, improbably, after two decades, Davis is still finding new lost ski areas; the funky or quirky lost ski areas that would have had the potential to survive the social media era by connecting with the Magic-MRG-Plattekill-oriented skiers who prefer soul with their snow; you’re not going to believe where the Mount Whittier gondola cars are now; why TV meteorologists hate snow; how Davis, a meteorologist and obvious snow-lover, deals with this; Davis’ latest book, about lost ski areas of the Berkshires; how you can support NELSAP; Davis has a Cranmore skimobile in his backyard!
Davis tells the story of how he acquired a car from the retired Cranmore Skimobile, right, in the podcast. The double chair is from Nashoba Valley ski area in Massachusetts, where Davis learned to ski.
Things that may be slightly outdated because we recorded this a while ago: Davis identifies Cockaigne Resort in western New York as one of the most likely lost ski areas to come back online. We talk about 100-degree temperatures at one point in the interview, because we recorded it during the July heatwave – more than a month before Cockaigne announced that it would be back in business. So he didn’t miss the memo or anything – his time machine was just broken that day. Same with his speculation on what would happen to the Hermitage Club, which was before the decision to sell off its assets, incl