(Host) Tucked away in the shadow of the much larger Bromley and Stratton resorts, Londonderry’s Magic Mountain has seen its share of struggle.
But the mountain also has its diehard fans – and now, a couple hundred share holders, who are determined to keep the resort going.
VPR’s Susan Keese has more.
(Keese) You wouldn’t ordinarily go to a ski resort to be alone with nature. But at Magic Mountain in on this dazzling cold March day, you can almost do that.
(Sound of skis ending a downhill run)
Snowboarders Barbara Shafer and John Wilton have come down from Woodstock for the day. They’ve heard good things about this small, no-frills resort with its 1700 foot vertical drop, reasonable lift tickets and winding, wooded trails.
Shafer calls it peaceful.
(Shafer) " No lift lines. Fresh Corduroy every run so far. Good scenery. It’s pretty magical." (Wilton) "It’s Great!"
(Lima) "It’s amazing it’s like a hidden secret."
(Keese) Rick Lima, of Ludlow Massachusetts is here with his wife Kim and their two children. Lima was a regular here in his post college days. Now he gets up several times a winter.
(Lima) "And we love it. On Fridays this is the absolute best mountain in the world to ski on. Weekends as well."
(Keese) Magic is only open Mondays, Fridays, weekends and holidays – plus, according to its website, any day after a snow of six inches or more.
It was closed completely from 1991 through 1998. Jim Sullivan says it was close to shutting down again when he entered the picture five years ago.
A former ski racer and lawyer, Sullivan has been leasing the resort, while trying to sell shares to turn the mountain into a cooperative like northern Vermont’s Mad River Glen.
But he says he’s had to modify that vision, especially during the recession.
(Sullivan) "The goal was to sell a thousand shares. And despite the passion for this mountain there just aren’t quite that many people out there and so we’ve essentially broken it into three rungs, and so we’re still on our first rung of 333, and we’re about two thirds of the way there."
(Keese) Sullivan says when he reaches that goal Magic will become a partnership owned by him, the shareholders and another investor.
Meanwhile, almost every other penny has gone into improvements in snowmaking, grooming and lift improvements.
He believes the resort can be self-sustaining with about 35,000 visits a year.
Jeremy Davis thinks the model can work, in Magic’s case. Davis is the founder of the New England Lost Ski Areas Project. He says there’s a need for smaller, less expensive ski areas.
(Davis) "I think they’ll do okay. They have a good team, they work hard. They have volunteers who kind of help out as well. They do work parties and stuff like that. And once people go to Magic they really like it."
Davis says Vermont has lost 120 ski areas since the 1930s.
He doesn’t think Magic will be one of them.
For VPR News, I’m Susan Keese.