When the Sun Sets, the Night Riders Emerge
A special to skivermont.com from Andrew Gratton, Ride Vermont intern
Over the past four years I have had the pleasure of not only being a student at the University of Vermont, but more importantly being a part of the Triple Major pass community. This Triple Major doesn’t mean that I will graduate school with outstanding knowledge in three different subjects; it means I have full access to three of the friendliest and most fun ski and snowboard communities in Vermont.
Living in Burlington, Bolton is a quick half hour drive from home, which I take advantage of before, between and after classes. I remember days where I would make it up for turns in the morning then go to class in the afternoon, eat and then head back up for night riding.
“NIGHT RIDING!?” You might say, “I thought we had to make the trip over the border into Canada for that”. WRONG. Bolton has been open for night skiing and riding for years now, providing a place for people of all ages to get out even if they may have had to work or learn all day. They offer special night skiing rates of $19 on Saturday to promote the experience, as well as $2 flatbread slices and soda/beer for everyone. I don’t know anywhere else you can ski for $19, but when it’s right in your backyard, in Vermont it’s almost a sin not to take advantage of it. It is this night skiing that has helped to draw in a great local market of people to the resort who know Bolton is close, fun and family-friendly.
I was able to speak to the Director of Marketing at Bolton, Josh Arneson, who discussed his target market of local kids as well as families and how he can get and keep their interest in the sport. He uses several types of ads in community papers and local news to spark interest with kids and adults, as well as diving more and more into social media as a way to get his message across and keep people informed of what’s going on at Bolton.
Josh says, “Facebook also allows us to interact with our guests so we can see what they like as well as answer questions for them.” This Facebook page keeps the dedicated following in tune with all the news at the mountain as well as provide a place for new people to learn about the resort without having to do much searching.
I was recently able to visit Bolton for night riding on a Wednesday which happened to line up with the weekly event series Bolton calls Night Riders. No, these aren’t fans of David Hasselhoff and his black talking car, these are young shredders from throughout the state growing their skills in a friendly contest environment. This contest is for kids of all ages and abilities and just shows even more how Bolton has dedicated itself to fostering the ideas of snowboarding and skiing in kids. It works as a great afterschool program for younger kids and many parents can be seen scattered down the course cheering on each kid as they take their runs.
There are multiple age groups, as well as skiing and snowboarding divisions, to which the winner of each is given a prize in the base lodge after competition. As I stood at the top of the park with all the riders I was amazed at how everyone knew each other’s name, and it seemed to be more of a friendly jam session then a contest. The positive attitudes help to push people to the next level making it more exciting and fun for everyone as well as evolving the rider’s skill at the same time.
These types of small local contests create a buzz at school, on the bus, or just hanging out with friends. When kids talk about the great time they had at Bolton it is almost a chain reaction leading them to bring two new kids on their next visit. Mountains like Bolton are essential to the development of the new crop of skiers and riders, continuing to grow outdoor recreation participation nationwide.
This contest echoes how Bolton feels as a resort. The cheers from the lift after a nice trick in the park or the hoots and hollers of epic turns on a powder day all can be enjoyed by everyone at the mountain and the positive vibes are almost contagious. Its homey feel, friendly atmosphere, inexpensive cost and close proximity to large portions of Vermont’s population make it a destination for anybody who is looking to have a good time.
So next time you get back from work or school and you're mad because there was 10 fresh inches on the ground, just remember, when the sun goes down, Vermont goes to Bolton Valley.See All Ski and Ride Articles