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Northeast resorts invest in snowmaking, off-slope activities

Associated Press Associated Press 15/11/2016 By LISA RATHKE, Associated Press

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Before the ski and snowboard season gets cranking, here's a look at what's new at resorts around the Northeast.

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SNOWMAKING, SNOWMAKING AND MORE SNOWMAKING

After a dismal snow season last winter with frequent warm-ups, resorts across the Northeast continue to invest in snowmaking to better cover trails, open earlier and stay open longer, and to do it using less energy. The New Hampshire-owned and operated Cannon Mountain, for example, expects to reduce energy consumption by about 30 percent with the addition of new snowmaking guns and upgrades to older ones, for a total of 479 guns. The project plus other maintenance cost more than $5 million.

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WORLD CUP SKIING RETURNS TO THE EAST

The World Cup ski circuit is returning to the East Coast, after a 25-year absence. Vermont's Killington Resort will be hosting the women's giant slalom and slalom races on Nov. 26-27. Olympic and slalom world champion Mikaela Shiffrin is among the 90 to 100 racers from about 20 nations expected to compete.

To prepare for the race, Killington started snowmaking on Oct. 10.

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MORE TERRAIN

In its first major expansion in more than 30 years, New Hampshire's Waterville Valley Resort has added 45 acres and cut 10 new trails that will be served by a chair lift. The Green Peak expansion includes beginner, intermediate and advanced terrain.

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LODGING

Burke Mountain Resort in northern Vermont has its first resort-owned slope-side lodging. The 116-room ski-in ski-out hotel and conference center opened this fall with a pub, restaurant, heated pool and hot tub and fitness center and views of the mountain on one side and Willoughby Gap on the other.

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FAMILY FUN

Resorts continue to add activities for visitors other than skiing and riding.

This summer, Vermont's Stowe Mountain Resort opened a roughly $20 million adventure center that includes ski and ride programs for kids, a daycare program, a rock-climbing center, shops, and family friendly dining looking out over the outdoor ice skating rink and the indoor climbing center. The rock-climbing center has 16 climbing stations and a free-standing 40-foot climbing tower.

On the other side of Mount Mansfield, Smugglers' Notch is also boosting its amenities for families, building a 26,000-square-foot Fun Zone that's expected to open in March 2017. It will include a two-floor laser tag arena, mini-golf, a 30-foot double-sided climbing wall, a slot-car track and a cafe.

At Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, the winter season programming includes trails for fat biking (bikes with oversized tires that can handle snow and mud).

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AP reporter Kathy McCormack contributed to this report from Concord, New Hampshire.

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