(See the tale end of this report and make suggestions as to what YOU’D like to see out of a new and improved SkiSoutheast.com.)
Like the Kenny Loggins song says – "This is It".
This is the last day to get on the hill and ride the snow within the Southeast and Mid Atlantic. We’re down to one ski resort in North Carolina (Appalachian Ski Mountain). There are two still running for one more day in West Virginia (Snowshoe and Timberline) and Wisp is operating in Maryland for one more day.
For those not wanting to do the math – that’s four ski areas operating for day sessions only today and then we can stick a fork in the 2010-2011 ski and snowboarding season.
If you didn’t make it to the slopes due to health, family or economic reasons – you’re excused. Otherwise you have one more day to make it happen. Otherwise you’ll be singing other lyrics of the song above:
"No time for wondering why…"
"The moment is now…"
I personally wasn’t able to make it to the slopes as often as I have in past years. This was the first season since I began skiing that I didn’t get at least 15 days on the slopes. This season was a crazy one business-wise and I was only able to make it out for thirteen days on the snow. Still that’s 24 years straight with at least 13 days of playtime. I’ll have to work on that next season. That’s a far cry from 40 days on the snow back in 1990 and 1991. My wife and I had Gold Cards and in addition to skiing at Snowshoe, we’d hit the snow every couple of days or so at all of the High Country’s resorts…most often hitting Hawksnest which was only a few hundred yards from our back deck.
One day we challenged ourselves to see how many turns down the mountain we could get in and we churned out 15 each at Appalachian, Ski Beech and Sugar (in that order) and then hit it up for 15 trips down Hawksnest before calling it a day. Upon arriving home I got a message from my brother-in-law who loves the snow as much or more than I do and he convinced me (tired legs and all) to ride Hawksnest for the old 10pm to 4AM Nighthawk session. We often played this crazy game of "follow the leader" where the follower had to ski right on the heels of the leader top to bottom – which often came close to disastrous results! I lost count of the times we hit it up that night, which was partially because I was having too much fun to keep count and partially because we had taken in a few too many beers to worry about it anymore. I know I tripped the mountains of our area that day, night and early morning between 90 and 100 times top to bottom.
I’m doubting that I would be able to even make an attempt to do that again. If God blesses me with good enough health perhaps I’ll have to give a try down the road. It would be much harder now with Hawksnest closed and no sessions past the midnight hour. (Appalachian is doing there "Til Midnight" sessions…)
I guess if I were to lap Appalachian 50 times before heading to Beech and Sugar… Who am I kidding? My knee would be "singing"! But then again, I COULD get a designated driver and hit up the "Colorado Mountain Dews" after the App Run…
Regardless, after today’s day sessions we’ll put another season in the books.
NOT SETTING ANY RECORDS THIS SEASON, Part Deux
Lately I’ve mentioned that this 2010-2011 will go down as a very successful skier visit season but that there will be no records set. However, it should be noted that if we’d had the kind of weather challenges that we experienced THIS SEASON a decade ago this would have probably gone down as a pretty bad year instead of one that will probably still rank as a top ten skier visit season.
The Virginia ski resort mountains saw very little in the way of snow with Massanutten Resort leading the way with only 16" of natural snowfall this season. The temperatures were often borderline in Tennessee and the Virginia mountains ALL SEASON LONG and without the amazing advancements in snowmaking technologies AND the improvements in communicating the message that there’s still snow on the slopes even when it’s swimming weather off the mountains – it would have gone down as a not-so-good season.
The North Carolina resorts got the best of the snows and weather prior to Groundhog Day and the West Virginia Ski Resorts had it better post February 5th. With good snow maintenance and some timely snows and snowmaking ops, the West Virginia Ski Areas will get in close to if not right on their 800,000 skier visits that they’ve annually turned these last several seasons.
It will be a while before any official numbers come in, but I think that the WV ski areas won’t quite tally that magical number this season and I have already gone on record to say that the North Carolina Ski Resorts won’t come all that close to topping last season’s RECORD skier visit number of 671,554 skiers and snowboarders.
I only had to see the comparatively lesser crowded parking lots at Beech and Sugar compared to the 2009-2010 season to know that we’ll not see any records falling this season. Tim Prather of Wisp Resort has already been quoted as saying their numbers were slightly down for the holiday periods of Christmas, MLK and President’s Day.
However it should be made clear that partly because of all the reasons already stated…this season will go down as a good one fiscally and that’s a good thing. Resorts depend on good finances to be able to spend monies on capital improvements such as even more high tech snowmaking equipment, groomers and new or improved lifts, etc, etc.
WHAT A WAY TO GO OUT…
Snowshoe Mountain and Timberline Resorts will operate on this the last day of the season after several inches of snow that has fallen over the last three straight days.
Laura Parquette wrote, "If we have to say goodbye to another winter season, this is the way we want to do it! Several inches of fresh snow is on the ground and snow continues to fall lightly this morning and should continue at least through the early morning hours. That few inches of fresh powder will make a big difference on the slopes, and it should be a great way to start the day! Lower Shay’s Revenge was left ungroomed overnight, but everything else should have a great corduroy base, with a fun powdery topcoat. Grabhammer, Knot Bumper and Camp 99 are your best options for the deepest snow to start the day. But with snow continuing to fall throughout the morning and light March crowds, we could have untracked freshies for the better part of the day. Snowshoe continues to offer the region’s most open terrain, with nearly double the available terrain at any other regional resort today. We have 39 slopes open, offering phenomenal condition today; that’s almost 150 acres of skiable terrain available on the LAST day of the season!"
South of West Virginia – the only ski area still playing for one more day is Appalachian Ski Mountain and they’ll do so on 8 trails for today and their closing "Meltdown Games" activities.
NOT SAYING GOODBYE…but until next time…
We’ll post up some closing comments and thank yous on Monday and then take a brief mental vacation from having to get up early and compile the reports for you guys. Unless something crazy, crazy goes down between now and July, we’ll be tearing down this machine called SkiSoutheast (and SkiNC) and rebuilding it from the ground up with what we hope will be an even better, more interactive (and helpful) web presence. We’ll not elaborate right now, but if we’re able to get a number of "players" to coorperate we think you’ll like what we have in mind.
So until mid Summer…Have a great three months or so.
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