Coming to Sugar Mountain Resorts Defense – Yes REALLY!

Coming to Sugar Mountain Resorts Defense – Yes REALLY!

Story by Mike Doble – mike@appnet.com  

Happy St. Katy’s Day Everyone! Hello??? Anyone out there? If you’re still following this daily BLOG, drop me an email. Otherwise, we’ll probably "close for the season" after Sunday. We’ll see how it goes…

Before any of you begin thinking that I’ve lost it with my ‘Happy St. Katy’s Day’ comment, my sweet neice was born on this day and hence it will always be St. Katy’s Day. Happy St. Paddy’s Day for the rest of you!

SPEAKING OF SAINT’S (see how I did that) my mother, who is a saint, and I were talking yesterday and she shared that she reads "TheKenDog’s" morning blog. She mentioned that Kenny was reporting that the season was all but over. My 78 year old sweetheart of a mom told me, "Not so fast young man…there’s probably some cold weather left".

She’s right. Just about every year at about the time that the Dogwood trees, crocus, tulips and buttercups begin to explode with blooms – we get a dumping of snow and sub-freezing temps that "browns everything up".

I think that the way this season has gone that everyone would just as soon get on with Spring and bring us a nice warm summer with frequent enough rains to keep us from drought conditions – but nice enough to enjoy the heck out of summer activities.

Mom’s probably correct though. Joe Stevens and I were talking earlier in the week and he shared that Herb Stevens of "The Skiing Weatherman" had told him to look out for a cold snap and some snow towards the end of the month.

I hate to even "go there" but from what I’m seeing via the long range forecasts – I don’t think there’s any cold air out there that will be heading our way…so perhaps we’ll avoid that Spring killing cold snap this year. Mom’s a pretty well-informed person when it comes to understanding the ski resorts and the weather around the region.

SPEAKING OF KNOWLEDGEABLE FOLLOWERS OF THIS WEBSITE… (I tried another segway there but admittedly it wasn’t as good.)

I’M COMING TO SUGAR MOUNTAIN’S DEFENSE TODAY! (Read on)

Throughout the entire 2011-2012 season we’ve been fighting a battle of "PERCEPTION". Flatlanders experiencing 70° weather back home have had the perception that there’s been little or no snow on the slopes all season long. Joe Stevens, Kenny Griffin, every ski area marketing and management team – and myself have been telling everyone who would listen that there was indeed plenty of skiable terrain at nearly every ski area in the region for nearly the entire season.

Without question ski areas like Sapphire, Wolf Ridge and Ober Gatlinburg suffered the most from a lack of consistent cold and snow, but even Wolf and Ober were able to keep decent-to-good conditions for most of the season. The High Country ski areas of Beech, App and Sugar actually boasted pretty nice conditions a lot of the time – as did Cataloochee and the Virginia ski areas.

The West Virginia ski resorts had it better than those further south as the temps were consistently (slightly) colder there which enabled them to make snow more often and keep the snow pretty well maintained.

Case in point was during the SkiSoutheast Summit weekend of March 2-4th when Snowshoe’s conditions were DARN NICE when conditions weren’t so hot elsewhere.

So skier visits have been down across the region and even though the WV resorts fared better in that regard as well – none of the ski resorts of the region set any records – either good ones or bad ones. It was just an "annnhhh" season.

However, there WAS decent coverage at the resorts for MOST of the season despite the crazy temps. We NEVER ONCE had consistently cold or snowy conditions for any kind of prolonged period of time. I actually can’t remember one period where ANY ski resort was able to make snow around-the-clock for a prolonged weeklong period had they chosen to do so.

So the PERCEPTION for MOST people was that there was NO SNOW on the slopes even though conditions were decent throughout and GREAT on a few occasions.

PERCEPTION ISSUES – PART DEUX

…and then there are people like Parris Boyd of West Columbia, South Carolina who wrote me yesterday, "Nice webcam, but Banner Elk, NC is one lousy location. Below is a link to my blog post (more about that in a moment) detailing the horrific experience I had on 3/7/2012 at Sugar Mountain Resort. I’ll be avoiding Banner Elk, NC (and the rest of Avery County) and advising other folks to do likewise."

So Parris and his misguided BLOG is now burning daylight attempting to sway the 682 people who have read it since 2009 that you guys and gals should never come to Banner Elk again. After all, it’s "a lousy place".

Parris is a self-professed college grad from MY beloved University of South Carolina. He’s also a 66 year old "confirmed bachelor" who evidently has it in for the entire United States (and Banner Elk of course) because he had four bad years in the Army and a bad day or two at Sugar Mountain. (You’ll HAVE to read his BLOG.)

Parris, since you have chosen to "Rat out Sugar" to your world of 682 followers, I feel it necessary to set the record straight in an effort to help not only YOU see the light, but perhaps to help the one or two other misguided peeps do so as well.

WHERE THE HECK DO I START?

Parris is obviously on a Jihad that is SOOOO misguided. Using his logic I would never, ever step foot in Columbia again because WHATABURGER (a great little burger joint in West Columbia) twice gave me a bad hamburger (they didn’t). I would never travel to West Columbia or Cayce again because Zestos (a GREAT little diner) gave me bad piece of chicken (they’ve never served a bad meal in six decades!)

Anyone who has followed this website over the last 16 years will tell you that there’s no love lost between Sugar’s management and myself. While I respect the heck out of Gunther, Kim and crew, there’s zero respect coming from there direction. So there’s NO mutual admiration society going on here wherein I’m coming to their defense due to some allegiance or financial obligation.

However as far as their operation is concerned I can promise you that Sugar is one of the best ski areas in the region and certainly one of the best at maintaining snow conditions when there’s weather to deliver it. Some would criticize Sugar for staying open a little longer than they should at times with less than stellar conditions – however they also post signage at every lift ticket booth WHEN THINGS are bad that advises people to go have a look before buying.

My daughter Carrigan just added a piece of added consultation by saying, "When I was there this winter the lady at the ticket window actually ASKED ME if I had taken a glance at the slopes before buying."

REVERSE PERCEPTION WAS RARE THIS SEASON…

While the perception of most people from around the Southeast and Mid Atlantic was that the ski areas had NO SNOW…evidently Parris and a few others must had the inaccurate perception that things were pristine and winter-wonder-like when there was no cold temps or snow to dictate those kind of conditions.

I had a glance at Dr. Ray’s almanac for the beginning of March and there were only THREE DAYS (or nights) when Sugar could have made snow from March 1st-7th and temps were in the 50s for most of that period. There WAS 6" of snow that fell March 4th and 5th, but along with EVERY snowfall this season came near blistering sunshine that evaporated any snow quicker than a 12 cyliner, Ferrari Enzo can go from 0-60.

Regardless, if you’ll read Mr. Boyd’s BLOG, there were evidently two or maybe three-to-five souls out there around the region who felt that Sugar Mountain would be in pristine condition. In Mr. Boyd’s case he was already QUITE DISSATISFIED with Sugar and held a grudge from a visit THIRTY-SIX YEARS AGO when supposedly he had a first, less-than-desired experience there.

In his blog, which again is read by him and approximately EIGHTEEN PEOPLE monthly, he writes, "These people are dyed in the wool con artists" and later calls them "a cheap shot".

Evidently he’s pushing this Jihad beyond the scope of his BLOG since he feels that more than a dozen and a half people need to know of how poorly ran Sugar Mountain is.

In his last post to the same blog he wrote, "Update 3/12/2012: I e-mailed Sugar a link to this blog post along with copies of references I posted on Facebook and Twitter."

Update 3/16/2012: Thank goodness this lousy excuse for a ski resort is now closed for the season. Maybe if it hadn’t been for my blog post, ol’ Sugar would still be suckerin’ folks into buyin’ a ticket. At any rate, Sugar Mountain Resort has now underscored its contempt for customers by blocking future e-mails sent to them from my account. Be warned: Sugar is still open for warm weather activities. Avoid Sugar at all costs.

(Evidently Mr. Boyd thinks that his 18 readers in the last month actually shut Sugar down. I can’t blame them for blocking his emails!)

HERE I COME TO SAVE THE DAY…okay not really, because not only is this guy COMPLETELY WRONG, Sugar is actually one of the three or four best ran ski areas in the Southeast and Mid Atlantic and pound for pound I’d put them up against ski areas out west which have more resources and better weather to work with. As far as snow making ask ANY ski and snowboarding enthusiast who they think is the best at making snow in the region and you’ll get a lot of votes for Sugar.

So what if the management there can be semi-horses asses at times. Sure they can be rude on occasion with visitors. However you can get that same appraisal from nearly every ski area in the United States. THERE ARE ALWAYS GOING TO BE BAD EXPERIENCES – when a person asks for a refund and doesn’t get it. However since Sugar and most ski areas PRE-WARN you to go have a look – then it’s on YOUR shoulders whether or not to hit the slopes.

That said – let me say that for Mr. Boyd and any others of you out there who had similar experiences this winter wherever you rode the mountain – you’re obviously suffering the consequences of probably the worst winter on record for the Southeast and Mid Atlantic. Snowshoe in WV has the best conditions of any ski area in the region right now and they are closing three weeks ahead of schedule – tomorrow.

This season has been so volatile that one day would be SUPER with snow everywhere and the next day would be tennis weather with patches of thin coverage everywhere.

To say that Banner Elk is a “lousy location” and to further begin a letter writing campaign to me and any other media that would listen is simply wrong and misguided. I am FROM Columbia, graduated high school there and attended USC. I have kept season football tickets there for the past 25 years. I LOVE Columbia, kept a boat on Lake Murray and adore the place. However, I moved here to the Banner Elk/Boone area 21 years ago and they will plant me here because there is NOTHING like this place year round. Watauga Lake’s pristine waters and surrounding mountains makes Lake Murray look like a swamp.

I’LL SAVE YOU GUYS SOME TIME…

For any of you who might have had a not-so-stellar day on the slopes this season. Just know that our ski areas – Sugar included – are the BEST in the United States at making snow and maintaining it – when they have ANY SEMBLANCE of cold temps. While it might be disappointing to have a bad visit – to go on a anti-Banner Elk spree and write me, the Chamber, the BBB and every newspaper in the region just shows your lack of knowledge and understanding. (Maybe my 78 year old mom can have a talk with you.)

With a good weather winter next season Sugar and all of our ski areas will no-doubt set attendance records due to the pent-up anxiety over this soon-to-be-past winter. The parking lots and slopes will be covered like ants on syrup. Any anti-Banner Elk or anti-Sugar writing campaign will only do one thing – keep YOU from going there. Everyone else – including yours truly – will be right there enjoying the conditions without you.

I’m going to share Mr. Boyd’s BLOG simply because I think anyone with HALF a brain will find it comical. As long as you guys understand that – go have a chuckle – http://askparris.blogspot.com/2012/03/waylaid-at-sugar-mountain-ski-area.html

I know there will be a couple of you who will write me that I should give this guy any "air time" but again I think it’s comical and kind of potentially educational.

Drop me an email or your pics, videos and comments to mike@skisoutheast.com  

Mike is the Editor and founder of SkiNC.com and SkiSoutheast.com. Since September of 1996 he has written more than 2800 articles promoting all of the ski areas of North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. While attending to the thousands of emails, photo submissions and On-Snow reports that come in all season long, Doble also owns and operates a full service web design and marketing company that has more than 800 clients in 30+ states and several countries. He shares that it was his passion for all things snow that prompted him to start the ski network and since that time the website has gained popularity through it's webcam and weather content as well. Mike is the father of four daughters, is an avid snow and water skier, football freak of his alma mater (the University of South Carolina) and hearty promoter of all that is Western North Carolina to West Virginia and Maryland. Mike spends his off time with his horses, playing golf, tennis and boating on Watauga Lake with his family and friends, coaching local soccer teams and oh yes...Snow Skiing!