Bryce Resort (in VA) and Wisp Resort (in Maryland) Open for the 2008-2009 Ski Season!

Happy Black Friday. I think that’s the first time I’ve ever passed on that greeting. However, I thought I’d start a new tradition of passing on some Holiday stories. Most will relate to skiing, but today’s is about "Black Friday". (You can check it out below.)

Today’s top stories have to be that Wisp Resort in Western Maryland and Bryce Resort in Western Virginia – open for the 2008-2009 season today!

We can tell you that Wisp Resort is OPEN for skiing and snowboarding today on 12 of 35 slopes and trails. They are open for night skiing til 9pm as well. They have their VERY COOL, Mountain coaster running today. No snow tubing just yet. Sounds like a GREAT opening day today at the Garrett County ski resort!  (Several snow reporting services are not showing Wisp as open.  However not only ARE they open, they have one of the black diamond trails (Squirrel Cage) open to the top of the mountain.  That is a very nice, steep, wide trail that offers a nice look at the valley below and a glimpse of Deep Creek Lake. If you guys have never made it to Wisp Resort – you really should make the trip.

We’ll skip down to VA now where Bryce Resort in beautiful, western Virginia is OPEN TODAY! They look in great shape via their live webcams and they are skiing and riding on 6 of 8 trails on a 10-30" groomed base. They also offer tubing today (the first resort to open tubing for the season). Bryce is a two-hour drive from Washington D.C. in Basye, VA. Way to go Horst and Ryan! Bryce doesn’t get the natural snow that many of the mountains of the Mid Atlantic do (it’s 43° there right now) but they do a great job of snowmaking at every opportunity and keep nice conditions throughout the season.

Since we’re on the subject of Virginia ski areas – Massanutten Resort is open today for TUBING and will open for skiing and snowboarding on Saturday!

Ditto that news for Wintergreen as they also plan to open Saturday.

Wintergreen Resort writes, "We are ready for opening day! So far we have pumped about 12 million gallons of water through our snow guns; Dobie and The Plunge look great! The Plunge will open for tubing Saturday and Sunday with sessions from 10am until 6pm."

FYI, they will be skiing and snowboarding for DAY SKIING Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 4:30pm.

Moving North into West Virginia…

Snowshoe Mountain has deservedly gotten most of our early season press to date as 63.5" of snow has fallen in NOVEMBER! They offer 20 trails for your skiing and snowboarding pleasure, serviced by 5 lifts! They are reporting 25° this AM, but are not making snow right now but plan to restart things overnight. Some have emailed us about Snowshoe night skiing. They will be opening the Silver Creek side of the mountain on December 19th and that is when night skiing kicks in.

Canaan and Timberline are not open just yet. Timberline will open NEXT WEEKEND and Canaan the weekend after. Ditto the December 12th opening date with Winterplace Resort.

Now let’s drop South into the North Carolina mountains. We cover those trails on SkiNC daily, but here is the news of the day.

Appalachian – It was 39° at 7:30am this morning. App IS OPEN for night skiing beginning tonight! We talked with Susan and she said they did not make snow last night and they are operating with 8 of 10 trails open for today, both terrain parks and the ice rink. They are still planning on opening the additional two trails on Saturday as far as we know now.

Cataloochee is at 27° this AM but from what we can tell they gave their snowmakers Thanksgiving Day off. They are open for day skiing today AND night skiing tonight on 60% of their mountain with 8 trails open, serviced by 3 lifts. They also have some terrain features setup.

Ski Beech is at 30° this AM. They are open from the top with packed powder and frozen granular conditions on 5 trails. Beech is open for day skiing only on Friday. They plan on opening up their popular skating rink on Saturday. Tubing also makes a return to Ski Beech on Saturday as they will be debuting their new tubing hill.

Sugar Mountain is at 32° and they have 10 trails open, serviced by 4 lifts for day and night skiing as well. They open up Tom Terrific on Thursday and will have it open for day skiing on Friday. Depending on the crowds, Sugar says they may open the gray lift if necessary. They also have their 10,000 sf ice arena open today! Sugar has regular rates in effect for today.

The forecast atop Sugar is calling for highs in the upper-40s with mostly cloudy skies and morning winds.

Wolf Ridge is open with three trails for today. Those open are "Eagle", "Broadway" and "Goin’South" – all greens. They ARE open for night skiing as well.

Sapphire Valley is open with TUBING ONLY until December 19th.

Hawksnest is open with their new tubing park (no skiing).

WHY IS TODAY CALLED BLACK FRIDAY?

Why am I even writing about this? I received four emails asking me if it was going to snow on Black Friday and then asked me WHY the day after Thanksgiving Day is called "Black Friday". Being a snow fan, I think we need to proclaim it "White Friday" although rarely does it snow at the end of November. Maybe we could proclaim it "white Friday" in honor of all of the hard working souls that toil within our resort snowmaking crews! (Although no snowmaking will be happening today across most of the region due to slightly higher than needed temps.)

Appalachian State fans will always like "Black Fridays" because they host a "Black Saturday" every year during football season and always win. This season they DID host a "Black Friday" on Halloween night and whipped up on Wofford. However, we don’t celebrate "Black Friday" nationwide due to App State’s Friday successes.

Truthfully, I thought with all of the retails sales going on nationwide – this day would put stores securely in the "black" and therefore it was dubbed that many years ago. That’s not it either. So what the heck is it?

Why it is called “Black Friday”

While the Holiday shopping season does get a jump start today, actually busier days are the norm as we get closer to Christmas. While this day is traditionally KNOWN as the busiest shopping day of the season – it USUALLY isn’t. Here’s the deal…

There was a wonderful, old shopping store clerk by the name of Laurence H. Black that worked for a department store in New York called Osberger’s Department Store. He was a floor salesman for more than thirty years and he was always the first employee to work and he always wore a black suit with a red carnation in the lapel. Store patrons knew of him as a fixture in the store and even competitors in the men’s clothing industry within the city respected him.

As fate would have it, toward the end of his twelve-hour shift (that’s right, 12 hours) Laurence H. Black collapsed with a heart attack and died at 7:48pm. Osberger closed the store the next day and clerks at the city’s other retail palaces wore black in tribute. The following year, on the Friday after Thanksgiving, all of the employees wore black suits and dresses, highlighted by a single red carnation, with a moment of silence at 7:48 pm, a tradition that carried on year after year and was picked up by many other stores in the city. Through the years, due to mergers and business consolidations, the tribute was lost. If you trace the mergers and acquisitions you’ll find that the old Osberger stores themselves are all now Macy’s!

Kind of cool story. Not ski related…but cool nonetheless.

MORE EMAIL QUESTIONS, answered…

Evidently the weather is on the minds of many of you. We’ve had an amazing stretch of cold and snowy weather and many weather gurus are saying that December will offer us more of the same and THAT is very cool news. However, today will SEEM pretty tame compared to the weather that we’ve been experiencing. Nevertheless, even though the highs today are expected to be in the 40s, with lows around 31° – seemingly a WARM UP – we’re actually still some TEN DEGREES colder than the normal of 53° that is normal for November 28th. Tonight’s low is forecasted to be 31° which is borderline for snowmaking ops – but again THREE degrees colder than normal for the day.

Some people wrote us worried about what they perceived to be a mild up coming our way later next week. FIRST, let’s enjoy TODAY for what today offers and worry about next week when it comes. However in advance of any potential "mild up" just know that we’re going to have some periods wherein the weather won’t be a perfect as it’s been thus far. However, our resorts are in GREAT shape to weather any kind of short-lived mild up.

DECEMBER WILL BE AN AMAZING MONTH for skiing in the Southeast and mid Atlantic!

Enjoy your day!

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