By Dave Mongillo
(March 2014) After not having visited the mountain for at least four years, I met with some old friends at Ski Sundown in New Hartford, Connecticut.
The resort was once called Satan’s Ridge and some of the trails still have a few devilish stretches. At 600 and some feet, Sundown is a small New England ski area with a big mountain feel. While they have the usual beginner and intermediate runs, they also feature some of the steepest skiing in southern New England.
Trails like ‘Tempest’, ‘Stinger’ and ‘Gun Barrel’ can be challenging for even the best skiers. ‘Tempest’ and ‘Stinger’ both have some steep pitches where you gain speed like a rocket ship. ‘Gun Barrel’ is just what it says, straight and steep from top to bottom. There are no flat spots and no curves. You just go downhill.
Even with the devilishly challenging runs, Sundown is a family friendly ski area. They are the host resort for several after school “learn to ski’ programs. Hundreds of youngsters have their first on snow classes at Ski Sundown every season.
Sundown is known for its deep cover and well-groomed trails. They were reporting a 30 to 60 inch base the day I was there, and I would be willing to bet it was deeper. There were no thin spots on a single trail on that spring-like warm, sunny day.
Ski Sundown has an extensive learn to ski or snowboard program with experienced, professional instructors. They also have a complete rental shop that can put the proper gear on every student. Beginners can learn to slide on smooth, well-groomed slopes, without the fear of getting lost on a mega mountain. For new snow sliders, smaller is often better than a giant ski resort, and it’s close to home.
They also have one of the leading youth racing programs in Connecticut. Several young racers that got to train on ‘Gun Barrel’ are now on Collegiate Teams around New England, and many finish at the top of the scoreboard every weekend.
Every employee we encountered during our time on the mountain was smiling, friendly and eager to be helpful. They all seemed to be having fun at work. One lift operator was playing rock on a ‘boom box’ and dancing to the music between loading chairs. www.skisundown.com