It’s time to venture into the snow-covered outdoors and conquer the slopes. Welcome, ski season. Whether you’re a first-time skier or a pro, here’s what you need to know about the 2015-16 season of Northern Michigan skiing at Nub’s Nob in Harbor Springs.
The conversation below is part of a series of MyNorth interviews with Northern Michigan ski resort managers about the 2015-16 downhill season.
We ask Jim Bartlett, president and general manager of Nub’s Nob Ski Resort, in Harbor Springs, to share what he wants downhill ski and snowboard fans to know about the 2015-2016 winter season.
First, should we talk about the weather?
Hey, you know, the weather is what it is. We’ve been spoiled the last couple of years with early cold and snow. Typically, we are open only on about half the Thanksgiving weekends.
What do you see as the most exciting change at Nub’s Nob this season?
We added another glade run, which adds to what is by far the biggest acreage of glade skiing in the Lower Peninsula. What’s unique about this run—we called it Outback Jack—is it’s located adjacent to a downhill run, just to the south, so the prevailing winds, from the north and northwest, will blow some manmade snow onto the glade. And once the snow is on the hill, it keeps really well protected by the trees. So there will be more snow on the hill and it will really hold the snow quite a bit longer.
The term “glade,” can you color that in a bit for us. What does glade mean exactly?
Sure. Well, there are trees, for one. But we do thin the trees. So for steeper slopes, we will thin the trees more, and for more gentle slopes, we thin the trees less. We also thin the underbrush and mow the tall grasses so you aren’t being tripped by brush.
What are customers liking about skiing in trees?
It just adds a whole nother level of excitement and challenge and wow factor. It’s another way to experience gravity in a really cool environment. I love to ski in trees. I always loved it out west and brought it back here 30 years ago.
How does the growing popularity of glade skiing square with the drive to make skiing safer, with helmets and all?
I did the research on that, and nationally, glade skiing areas are safer than open hills. The reason is people ski more in control, and the glades are actually among the safest slopes in the place.
Your website looks new. Tell us about that.
Yes, we did a revamp of our web page, including our shopping cart and it’s all mobile friendly, top to bottom. Accessing conditions, our web cast, it’s all really easy now. You can also buy season passes there.
Any invisible, background kinds of changes that are important?
We continue to upgrade our snowmaking. We did not add guns this year, but in order to get the most out of those guns, you have to get good water flow and electricity to them, so we upgraded some of that infrastructure this year. Also we put some new seat covers on, so that will be a more cushy experience!
People are wanting good, from-scratch food these days. What’s going on in your kitchen?
Nothing significantly new there, but that’s because we already have what I feel is the best ski cafeteria food in the business. Our burger is custom mixed for us and never frozen, delivered fresh, and it’s flame-broiled, not pan-fried. Our soups are all homemade, all in-house. All our desserts are homemade. Even our chicken sandwich has a custom made bun from a local baker. Hey, I eat here every day and I want to eat good food! Let me tell you, when you order chicken noodle soup here, you will have tons of chicken in your soup.
What about a couple of highlights from events this season.
We still have a strong lineup of NASTAR racing, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. This year you can register right at the top of the hill, so you don’t have to register in the lodge. Our adult racing league is going strong and we even added a couple of teams this year. One set of races I really like is the spring stuff that debuted two winters ago—four weekends in a row of racing called the K2 Bank Slalom. It has nine big bank turns down the NASTAR hill. It’s like racing a car on a banked track, really fun and exciting!—J.S.
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