Into the new millennium with innovation and environmental leadership
The 90s brought us Harry Potter, the world wide web, and New England’s first high-speed six-passenger chairlift. Stratton’s American Express launched in 1995 with then Gov. Howard Dean cutting the ribbon before hopping on the first chair up for a run down Suntanner. Three more “six-packs” would soon follow.
New tower guns began lining the trails as snowmaking coverage increased from somewhere south of 50 percent to over 75 percent by Y2K and 95 percent by 2010. With sustainability at the forefront, Stratton was first to convert snowmaking air compressors to clean energy. The 150-million-gallon, $8 million snowmaking water storage pond, also a first, captures spring run-off and sends it back to the slopes in the form of new snow. Not only did it mean Stratton would have plenty of raw material to blanket the trails, it would help maintain optimal stream levels protecting fish habitat during the critical winter months.
The landmark 1999 master plan, another first for Vermont, included wildlife studies that led to Stratton’s easement on 1,500 acres of deer wintering grounds, bear travel corridors and high-elevation Bicknell’s thrush habitat. Initiatives outlined in this comprehensive document, built upon three years of planning, earned the resort a series of environmental awards including Silver Eagles, Vermont Governor’s Awards, Vermont Landowner of the Year, and an EPA Green Power Leadership Award.
Events took center stage with Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, BB King, Lionel Hampton and Howie Mandel among the marquis acts performing live from Stratton. There was professional golf and tennis with the McCall’s LPGA Classic and Acura US Women’s Hardcourt Championships. Skiers had a chance to race Alberto Tomba; many tried but no one beat his time. Stratton teams dominated in the Jimmie Heuga Ski Express, earning the top spot for fund-raising and a place in the national finals.
Founded in 1996, The Stratton Foundation’s first board included Michael Cobb, Bob Fries, Kimet Hand, Rick Hube and Carl Williams. Thanks to the generosity of the Stratton community, the Foundation has raised nearly $2 million to support the health and well-being of southern Vermont children and their families.
Snowboarding made its Olympic debut in 1998 and Stratton local Ross Powers brought home the Bronze Medal. He would go on to win Gold in 2002, and come home to coach the next generation of medalists training at his alma mater, the Stratton Mountain School.
The 21st century brought more high-speed lifts, even more, and more efficient snowmaking firepower, Village restaurants and shops including The North Face, Burton and Bogner, and new condominiums on the Commons starting with the Long Trail House in 2000; Founder’s Lodge completed the quadrangle in 2006. New England’s first private alpine club opened in 2003 with 300 families joining the Stratton Mountain Club.
Stratton Mountain celebrated its 50th anniversary during the 2011-12 season in many of the same ways that had marked each of the 49 previous seasons. Families packing up the car for a pilgrimage to Vermont. Celebrating snowy nights and powder days. Sharing après-ski stories around the fireplace. Grateful for another season of mountain friends and freedom.