Go local, ski small

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VermontÕs own heritage is slowly melting away.

The corporate world that Vermonters and UVMers have met with such resistance is hitting us where weÕre most vulnerable Ñ on the slopes.

Ski resorts are becoming larger and more developed, and itÕs happening at the expense of the little local mountains, on which many Vermonters took their first awkward J-bar ride.

They can be seen throughout the stateÑ off of I-89 or on the side of a ramshackle road like East CorinthÕs 25C, where you can find the rare bliss of no cell phone service.

But these little ski hills are disappearing, and itÕs because of the massive machines Ñ both snow generating and public relations monopolizing Ñ that larger resorts have created through corporatization.

ThatÕs not to say these larger resorts donÕt deserve our business. They often have more and better-conditioned trails, contribute heavily to local economies and even give a helping hand to the little guys through lending equipment and staff.

So why should you care?

Well for one, the atmosphere of the small ski hill is unparalleled. We like small local shops, music venues and bars because we identify with the community collaboration that these businesses necessitate.

We come to know employees as families, and fellow customers as friends. ItÕs about identity in a world that is increasingly homogenized.

The same applies to ski hills Ñ sometimes itÕs just more fun to ride a small, local mountain with real woodsy trails and laid back Vermonters than a tourist-ridden one with endless lines at the chair lift.

These mountains are dying because more and more people are flocking to the larger ones, most likely driving past a few of these hidden havens on the way.

So hereÕs the CynicÕs plea: support the little local ski hills just as you do any other local business. Most of them have day passes as low as $5Ñ or theyÕre free! Ñ and youÕre not going to be in a line for more than a few minutes.

Unfortunately for those Upper Valley Vermonters, the dream has died at Whaleback and it could be on its deathbed at the Lyndon Outing Club. With your help, thereÕs hope for the other local hills still remaining.

With the winter season over, keep the small hills in mind for next year. Grab some friends, pack a car and hit the nearest slope.

On that scale, youÕre not just supporting a mountain, but a community.