Good to Great Conditions for Today! A Closing Commentary on Wolf Ridge...

Good to Great Conditions for Today! A Closing Commentary on Wolf Ridge ;-(

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Temps are all over the place this morning. Ski resorts in North Carolina were all hovering in the 30-35° range so no snowmaking was happening at those resorts. Beech was showing a 26° reading on the base weather station, however they were not making snow. They do have a trace of snow/fog happening this AM. Sugar was also reporting 26.3° for a low temp and at 8:17am 28° at the summit and 31.1° at their base and they ARE making snow as long as those temps hold. Sugar is also reporting a "dusting" of snow.

Bryce and Wintergreen Resorts are hovering around the 26° mark this am. All of the Virginia resorts look very nice now after some consistent snowmaking temps of this past 7-9 days.

As has been the case all season thus far – the resorts north of Winterplace (Wisp, Snowshoe, Canaan Valley and Timberline) ALL made snow and opened even more terrain in the last 24 hours. Wisp is showing 24° this AM and they are now only one trail away from being 100% open with 31 of 32 trails open. Only "LOGGERS WAY" which is one of the green/glide trails is not available. Nice job and hats off to Wisp for doing some amazing miracles with the volatile weather.

HERE ARE THE NOTABLES FOR TODAY:


BEECH MOUNTAIN:

11am Winterfest Rail Jam
1100am Figure Skating Demonstration
12pm Visual Judging Cardboard Box Derby
Figure Skating Demonstrations at 1130 and 3pm
2pm Cardboard Box Derby
3pm Skateboard Competition in Roots Ride Shop–
Ice Sculpting Demonstrations

 


MASSANUTTEN RESORT:

They were able to open another trail up for Saturday and are now reporting 9 of 14. They also have 12 tubing lanes open. Ice skating is open as well! Also check out this cool video from Massanutten just before they opened Diamond Jim a couple of days ago. http://www.skisoutheast.com/videos.php

Also check out the LIVE STREAMS of Massanutten at: http://www.resortcams.com/webcameras-massanutten-base.php

It shows the base area, tubing runs and more.

SNOWSHOE MOUNTAIN:
Gabi Viteri will be there coaching for the Burton Women's Camp TODAY if you're in the area. Snowshoe made snow and opened more terrain for today and now has 44 trails open. Snowshoe is celebrating "College Daze" right now through the 12th of January.

Burton Team Rider Gabi Viteri shreds the mountain, a Progression Session Contest is in the works, amazing parties will be everywhere you look and, of course, they have great skiing & riding waiting for you. How's 180 acres of open terrain sound?

Need more? Lodging starts at just $77. Call  877.441.4386  to book or for more information

CANAAN VALLEY:
Canaan Valley upped their trail count again today. They now have 38 trails open, ice skating, XC Skiing and Snowshoeing.

Limited time offer: January 11 & 12, 2013
Weekend Deal – $84 per person/per night.
Reservations:  800-622-4121

 

…Wintergreen's Snow Tubing looks WONDERFUL!

WINTERGREEN RESORT:
I just like these guys. They've done a LOT with only a little cooperation from Ma Nature this season. Today they are playing on 20 slopes and theire snowtubing hill looks in mid-season form. Their ice rink is open as well.

WISP RESORT:
Wisp is now only ONE trail away from being 100% open and now has 31 of 32 trails open. Of course tubing and ice skating are open as well.

Wisp Resort is open today from 9am – 5pm with $60 Adult lift tickets and $40 Junior lift tickets. Race event on Squirrel cage and in the Pro park during AM hours. The Nordic Center is Open 10am – 5pm with NASTAR being available today from 11am – 2pm on Little Dipper. See you on the slopes, ski & ride safely.

 

CATALOOCHEE:

NASTAR is a public racing program that provides recreational racers with an opportunity to compare their ability to the fastest member of the US Ski Team (USST). NASTAR is the largest recreational ski race program in the world, developed by SKI Magazine in 1968, and is available at over 120 of the nation's premier resorts. This fun, competitive and easily accessible racing program allows racers of all ages and abilities a means to compare themselves with one another, regardless of when and where they race. This is accomplished by establishing the National Standard on each NASTAR course, and through a racer handicap system. Each time you race NASTAR, you could win a Platinum, Gold, Silver or Bronze medal based on the handicap you earn. Racing is on Sundays, slopes permitting, beginning January 6, and on-Mountain registration begins at 11:00AM and you can register at the Ticket Center and pay for racing on the lower level of the lodge or pre-register online at Nastar.com. All races are subject to weather and slope conditions. Lift ticket/slope pass or a season pass is required to participate.

Rates:
$7.00 (2 runs)
$5.00 for ages 12 and under (2 runs)
$2.00 for each additional run
$15.00 for unlimited runs per day as long as course is set
$99.00 for seasonal race fee

OBER GATLINBURG:
Join us Sunday for Retro Day and dress up in your retro best! Wear your straight sticks, neon snowsuit, retro ski sweater or leather boots, etc. and receive a 9am – 7pm area/lift ticket for only $27 this Sunday!

SAPPHIRE VALLEY:
Sapphire Valley Ski Area Rated in the top 10!!

Best of the Blue Ridge, Sapphire Valley Ski AreaSapphire Valley Ski Area has been rated one of the top 10 Ski Areas in the Southeast as a great place to learn to ski!

Bring your family to historic Sapphire Valley and learn to ski or snow board!

SAME OLD, SAME OLD AT WOLF RIDGE?

I've caught heck posting these kinds of things in the past, but good Lord I'm getting a LOT of emails from people asking US about Wolf. That's usually not a great sign. Wolf has just gone quiet again this season. When people don't get answers from a resort, they look to us and elsewhere. 

I've probably received MORE emails about Wolf this season than any other ski resort. That's human nature I guess. If things are going great as they are at many ski areas, people are satisfied and just play. When things are less than desired, they rant.

However, when WE can't get the answers that you guys are looking for, we are simply left with sharing what their fan-base is saying. More on that in a second.

Last season was a rough one for Wolf as the weather patterns forced the shortest season in recent history. Tough times indeed, but it was rather challenging for all of the resorts of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic. When things are challenging the best defense is a great offense and that's what most of the ski areas of the region have done. They are all working dilligently to get the message out that things are really quite nice right now.

Rick Bussey was the Marketing Director for Wolf Ridge up until last season. He left two seasons ago to pursue other business, leaving Wolf without a true marketing department. Of course to be honest even Mr. Bussey was more the businessman than marketing guru. Prior to that Michael Hampton was the guy who shared the party line.

Owner, Orville English is not an internet or social media guy so he's not as aware as he perhaps should be of all of the internet chatter that is going on surrounding the ski area…or maybe he is and is simply choosing to ignore it. That would be semi-understandable for a guy who has really been in the midst of numerous  tête-à-têtes the local media, former staff people and purchases, sales, re-purchases in just the last five years during one of the most volatile periods in real estate history.

Timing is everything and much like the happenings at Wisp and Wintergreen recently – Mr. English shouldn't catch hell for bad timing. He and investors sunk a lot of money and hope in taking Wolf to a whole different level JUST prior to the bottom falling out of banking institutions in 2007-2008.

I was reading numerous stories posted in the Asheville Citizen Times about Mr. English and kept seeing the following, "Repeated attempts to reach English were unsuccessful." so perhaps we're just getting the same treatment. In our case, we're only interested in PROMOTING Wolf as just what it is – a great option for skiing or riding in the region. It's close proximity to I-26 lends itself to everything that skiers and snowboarders are looking for.

The fact that Mr. English and former investors want/wanted to make Wolf Ridge a small "Snowshoe" is actually a GREAT thing in our opinion. I realize that this goes against the grain of some of our readers who prefer to camp out in the cars and poach terrain whenever possible. However the ski resorts make the BULK of their revenue from people coming up from all points south – chief amongst those from Florida and Georgia – and spending thousands of dollars per ski trip. Even more is made from those willing to visit and purchase homes and condominiums valued at from 150K to over 3M.  Numerous business models have been put forth from those interested in building indoor ski arenas that would be supported not by lift ticket sales, but by adjoining real estate sales. That's simply smart business…and not "greed" as some complaints say.

So while there are MANY negative posts about Wolf Ridge running out there in "internet chatter-land" pertaining mostly to real estate deals and the benefit or failure of them…I have chosen to refrain from sharing them. You can certainly search Google and find those on your own. Most of them are semi-bogus and come more from the resort's proclivity to not participate in conversation rather than stemming from any nefarious conduct. Be careful if you DO research the subject as MUCH of what you'll find is very dated from five or six years ago.

Most of the posts that WE receive are in support of Wolf and seem to be from those wishing things would change a bit in terms of opening trails, snow quality and accurate reporting of trail openings.

We've attempted to speak to the management, but (again) they've gone quiet. In the past, prior to the internet where people are calling you out via TripAdvisor etc, you could go into a cocoon or stick your head in a hole in the ground – ignoring what was happening but not so much anymore.

According to most of the reports and emails we've received, you can ski right up to any chair at Wolf due to the light crowds even on busy days elsewhere. That is a shame because there is no question that the ownership has invested HEAVILY in the infrastructure at the ski area.

Some of the negative chatter has more to do with financial events that are now more than five and six years old and to be fair these seem to be bent on casting a negative shadow on Wolf Ridge or perhaps Mr. English that is totally unwarranted. We will continue to attempt to speak with Mr. English and certainly provide his side of things when and if he provides us the chance to do so. In the interim:

HERE IS A SMALL SAMPLING OF EMAILS AND POSTS WE'RE RECEIVED…

"Poor Wolf is just it's same old self this season, as can be seen from the lack of crowds (which we like) to the demographics of the crowd (mostly season pass holders looking to get their money's worth).  No lift line on a beautiful Saturday is not a good sign.  I can't really understand why they operate under a cloak most of the season, especially around opening time.  Website updates and facebook aren't really that hard to do, right?  Even I can do that!" – A WOLF LAUREL RESIDENT

He did add – "Anyway, they actually have made more snow that I would have expected.  Coverage on what is open is great, some more groomer passes would be nice, quite a bit of marbles, crumblies and death cookies out there. (We get this comment a lot!) They are open to the top, just not much terrain or options available.  Probably why most folks are going elsewhere.  Not sure why they wouldn't open the little connector to the top lodge and get it going, but hey, it's Wolf."

"A little off topic but The TR for wolf today says 6 open trails . 2 lifts . If you count the individual trails report 7 trails show open? Those folks are there own worst enemy !!!" –  R. Mercer of Auburn, GA

"Another big gripe I have with Wolf from this visit…seeing as how I'd gambled they'd open to the top at some point during the day I asked around and no one seemed to think it would happen early on, but after checking their facebook page during a trip to the lodge I noticed a post that said we're open to the top! So I go out, jump on the lift…that wasn't the case. I snapped a photo and posted on their page to show that the posting wasn't accurate. To be fair they did open the upper runs several hours later, but seeing as how I already have some trust issues with the place I felt the need to call them out." – JUPITER, FL

"Nice report on da Wolf…. down the road at CAT it was packed, amazing what good management can do. Wolf needs an undercover boss intervention." – PARIS MOUNTAIN, SC

"I really felt that things were changing at Wolf a couple of years ago. Yes, they often report slopes open that aren't but I've never thought it was a deception thing; more just not knowing that people are now looking via the net. However things have gone from disappointing and underachieving to something less than that." – Donette Hayes, ATLANTA, GA

"While some ski areas are managed by ownership who are skiers and some are managed by real estate investors who ski; Wolf lacks either in my opinion. Can't you guys do something?" – MARS HILL, NC

Several posts about Wolf can be seen at:
http://www.skinorthcarolina.com/messageboard/showthread.php?t=15580

Trust me when I say that there are MANY, MANY more emails that I have received already this season. Hopefully some nice weather will defray the complaints…

 

Email me your thoughts and reactions at: mike@skisoutheast.com

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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!

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