The last time that I was at the Vermont Open was three years ago, during one of the worst ski winters the east has had on record. I can remember temps the week leading up to the event, soaring into the high 50's, wreaking havoc on the conditions all over the mountain and leaving Stratton Mountain in a bit of a bind only days before the event. Yet, kudos to them for doing an incredible job getting everything in order and despite the adverse situation, putting on an amazing show. This time around the situation could not have been more different. With Mother Nature dumping roughly 44 inches of snow over the course of four days leading up to and during the Vt. Open, Stratton was more then set with some of the best powder conditions that I have skied in my life. However, epic snow conditions was only the half of it. With parties and concerts running through the weekend, including Vermont's own, Twiddle headlining the entire music festival, Stratton delivered an experience for the ages.
DJ Joe Bell Kicks Off a Great Weekend at The Green Door Pub
Designed to celebrate the origins of the sport of snowboarding and its progression (www.stratton.com), it has become increasingly evident that the Vermont Open is far more than your average snowboarding event. This notion was solidified the moment that Stratton booked local favorite and nationally acclaimed, Twiddle as the headliner for the main concert. Combine that with a slew of parties in the village that kicked off on Thursday night and ran through Sunday and you have a weekend-long event that needs to be experienced. Rolling into town a little later on Friday, I was not fortunate enough to catch the retro pipe whose pro division was won by Zeb Powell and Ty Schnorrbusch. Nonetheless, I immediately tossed my bags down in my room, and headed out the door to The Hayes Brothers Party at The Green Door Pub featuring All About Après brand ambassador DJ Joe Bell.
With many still rolling into town, there weren't a ton of people out just yet, but you could already feel an exciting vibe in the village and when I walked into the Green Door to the beats of old school rap, I knew that I was where I needed to be. As always, The Green Door provided what is arguably the most unique après experience offered at Stratton thanks to its frat basement decor and mixture of locals and hipsters harmoniously co-existing while tossing back Narragansett tall boys. The Hayes Brothers Party did not disappoint as DJ Joe Bell's tunes enticingly brought many to the dance floor to showcase their most interesting and awkward dance moves. Nothing like some good people watching to kick off an epic weekend.
Fresh Snow, Slopestyle and Kids All About Après at The Firetower
Photo Credit: Tom Vayianos
As the snow continued to fall the following morning with 4-6" more fresh snow on top of the close to 40 they had already received since Wednesday, first tracks were inevitable. The skiing was by far the best of the season and some of the most incredible conditions that I have seen in a state that I've skied in for almost 30 years. So, of course, we were on the hill a little after 8 am stopping only once to refuel with a Bloody Mary and Nachos at Grizzly's before heading over to the slopestyle course to watch Lauren Tamposi lay down a sick run enroute to her pro division victory. A few more turns with the family that resulted in my youngest daughters skiing their very first black diamond and truly earning their après at our collaboration kids' après ski party with The Firetower Restaurant and Tavern.
Photo credit: Tom Vayianos
With free chocolate chip cookies and a free raffle to win our "Après" the St. Bernard t-shirts, the party was a hit for the kids and the perfect way to spend more time with my family before heading back out that evening.
Twiddle Takes Vermont Open to New Heights
Photo Credit Hubert Schriebl
The band Kung Fu kicked off the evening's festivities around 6 and you could instantly hear them rocking the parking lot stage all the way across the village from my hotel room in the Long Trail House. Pumped to get back out there, I scarfed down much needed food and headed out just in time to get myself in a prime position to take in all that is Twiddle. Stratton Mountain Resort is really making a name for themself when it comes to the music scene in Vermont. Having already hosted the Ski-QX alternative music festival and The Wailers this winter, the addition of Twiddle to their music lineup only adds to how Stratton is separating themselves from the pack and becoming the place to be for music in the Green Mountain State. Not being a huge jam band fan, I didn't know what to expect heading into the concert. However, after watching Twiddle play, I can safely say that I dig them. Their set rocked for nearly two straight hours producing melodious sounds that tantalized fans into forgetting how friggin cold it was out. And when lead singer, Mihali, called attention to stage-light-accented-snow that was falling by exclaiming to the crowd, "we're playing in a blizzard," they erupted with applause.
The Vermont Open is an Experience Worth Seeing
Twiddle may have been the headliner but the night was only just getting started. Fans flocked from what many of them described as, "the best Twiddle show ever," to the the after parties. Held at Grizzly's and The Green Door Pub, they had even more live music keeping the stoke going all night long especially at GDP where one of my favorite Vermont based bands, Saints and Liars, brought the house down.
Having now been to the Vermont Open twice in the last three years I can honestly say that it is definitely worth the trip. It's always been good, but what is most impressive is that the overall event continues to evolve as Stratton elevates their game. This year with the benefit of an incredible snowfall and a major headliner in Twiddle, they delivered the goods on what is becoming one of my favorite events of the winter season.