- José da Silva
Course Spotlight: Sleepy Hollow
The dominant subject this weekend will, in many ways, be time. Visiting teams roll in, ski for two days, and then drive out. Times are recorded and compared – the quickest wins. After decades of use and disuse, family-owned Sleepy Hollow has been molded by both time and its management’s methodical additions. The course racing beneath this weekend’s EISA skis has journeyed at a steady, intentional pace, to arrive this weekend as an entirely unique ski area.
Founded in 1978, the area we now call Sleepy Hollow was originally Sherman Hollow Ski Area, until it was forced to close in 1993 for financial reasons. That is, until 1999, when Sandy and David Enman bought the ski area and turned it into a family affair. Their son, Eli Enman, is now the general manager and their daughter, Molly Peters, is the event coordinator and Nordic coach at St. Michael’s College (the hosts of this weekend’s carnival).
In the 22 years since purchasing the ski area, the Enmans’ progress is tangible. “We’ve definitely come a long way as far as the quality of the trails,” said Molly.
Sleepy Hollow first added snowmaking in 2012, with the capacity to make snow for 700 meters of trails. Each year since, the Enmans have expanded and improved their snowmaking. There are now 2km of trails with snow making capabilities, and another km on the way. “We intended to get to 3km this year,” said general manager Eli Enman, “but our snowmaking pipe that was supposed to arrive in October still hasn’t arrived due to COVID-related supply disruptions.”
This year, the Enmans also homologated Sleepy Hollow, a process that likely would have been left for the future had it not been mandated. Sections of trails were widened, a loop with the appropriate amount of climbing was found, and the start and finish line area was reconfigured. Eli says he’s pleased with the decision to move up homologation. Now, Sleepy Hollow is able to host the elite races – always rewarding – and more casual visitors have given positive feedback, too. The homologation also helps Sleepy Hollow host high-quality community and youth races. It’s an update long in the making, and perhaps ahead of schedule, that has benefited every Sleepy Hollow visitor, said Eli.
Though some parts of the trails have been updated, the area still retains a rustic, family-owned charm. Narrow, sweeping downhill trails in the trees. Regulation, of course, but “old fashioned,” said Molly.
Being family owned does not only contribute to a certain charm – Eli also says it allows the ski area to make quick decisions, like growing snow making capabilities or choosing to get homologated. “Rustic” might be an appropriate generalization of family-owned ski areas. Cozy, quaint, charming, welcoming, too. The family, though, also imparts a more specific, personal character to their business.
At the course this weekend, keep an eye sharp for Eli’s mythical amalgamation, an imprint of his own character on Sleepy Hollow: a Smart car that forgot it was made for commuters; tracks instead of rear wheels; and skis on the front. Essentially an enclosed, heated, and electric snowmobile nicknamed “Smartypants.”
Eli is also working to convert a Pistenbully 400 into a fully electric groomer, a project that should be complete by the end of the winter, he said. The Pistenbully 400 project has an EISA tie-in as well. The last male skier of the weekend, and recent Olympic nominee Ben Ogden, is helping with the conversion via an independent project at UVM. Ogden, who studies mechanical engineering, is helping predict the amount of heat the engine will generate, which will determine the amount of coolant needed.
Smartypants and the Pistenbully are just particularly unique facets of Eli’s broader goal: a more carbon-neutral future for his family’s ski area. “Our goal is to convert as much equipment to electric as we can in the next few years to cut down on our carbon footprint,” said Eli.