Some say Girl Scout cookies and red-winged blackbirds are the first stirrings of spring in New England, but Stratton Mountain Resort regulars look for fresh corduroy, goggle tans, and long lunches at Uncle Dave's BBQ on the deck at mid-mountain.

Stratton makes the season more savory with its March Madness lodging packages:Book three nights between March 14 and 20 and save 20 percent; make it four nights for 30 percent off.

Stratton's March Madness is bookended by two huge events: the 29th annual U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships March 6 to 13, and the U.S. Freestyle Championships March 22 to 27.

The U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships see the world's best male and female riders taking part in halfpipe, slopestyle, and rail jam events.

The first day is set aside for registration and a rider meeting, and the last day for an open Junior Jam to entice younger riders onto the path that leads to top-level competition. In between are six days of competitions for men and women competitors.

It is the premier spectator event of the winter in New England, with Stratton's Sun Bowl dedicated to on-snow events, and base area fun. Admission is free.

The halfpipe and slopestyle venues will be closer to the sponsors' village this year so they are an easy-to-moderate walk from the main base area, depending on how high up on the slope one wants to climb.

The Freestyle Championships will bring the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team and other top skiers from across the country to Stratton to compete in moguls, aerials, halfpipe, and dual moguls.

More information. Or call 800-787-2886.

Check out this video from the 2010 U.S. Open Snowboarding Championship halfpipe finals at Stratton