Cataloochee Ski Area FIRST to open in Eastern America for 2006-2007

For the second year in a row Cataloochee Ski Area in Maggie Valley, North Carolina is the first ski resort in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic to open for skiing. In fact, as far as we’ve been able to find Cataloochee’s dropping of the ropes this morning makes it THE FIRST ski area to open East of the Mississippi!  Not Killington, not Stowe – not even any of the other aggressive ski resorts of the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic – but little Cataloochee.

This marks the earliest that any ski area has opened in the state of North Carolina or the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic.  That is a true testament of how technology and the amazing improvements in snow making have meant a huge difference in how much snow a ski area can lay down in a shorter period.  Cataloochee is open on two beginner trails today with a base of 12-24" after only two nights of snowmaking!

We’re trying to get some photos of the lucky people that are on the first chair this morning and if we’re able to get those, we will post it as a photo of the day of course.  Some of the self-named Cat Crew is on their way as of this posting and we’re betting that a couple of those "cats" will be the first, if not among the first skiers and riders for the 2006-2007 season.

We’ve received a couple of emails about how the Cat Webcam is iced over this morning and a couple blamed us for the camera’s lack of quality. We actually saw a decent picture during Friday’s sunnier portion of the day – but we do not operate that camera.  We have something in the works that we’re hoping to make happen that will provide Cataloochee with the same kind of camera system that we have at other ski resorts and if that happens…look for some great images coming from the Maggie Valley resort this season – and soon.

A couple of people emailed us wondering whether Cataloochee was the first to open in the East AND what other resorts had opened for the season earlier.  Stowe in Vermont is making snow, but is 14 days away from opening according to them.  Others are not open either.

But did someone in the EAST beat us out??? We say nope…but read on!

Cold overnight temperatures prompted Connecticut’s Woodbury Ski Area to turn on the snowmakers and lay down enough snow in front of the base lodge to fire up their Rasta rope tow for about 100 vertical feet beginning at 4 p.m. today on FRIDAY! The Base depths ranged from four to 10 inches of machine-made snow. That effort allowed Woodbury to claim title to the first ski area to open in eastern North America this season. Woodbury plans to operate this weekend from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday…and supposedly they opened for a short period FRIDAY AFTERNOON AT 4pm.  (The photo above is of WOODBURY’s claim of slope openings!)

HOLD THE PRESSES! Not so fast Mr. or Miss Woodbury, whoever you are.  IF you’re open on Saturday, that’s what you call a slope opening!  Second, you supposedly opened YESTERDAY at 4pm – for how long – an hour? Come on, people!

If this is the case then WE submit that Cataloochee actually opened on Thursday with Ron Rocha being the first skier. (WE HAVE THE PHOTO TO PROVE IT.) We also submit that to call yourself OPEN you need some snow and a full session of skiing…but if you want to play the game dirty…we’ll say Cat opened on Thursday, so there!

For the record, we did receive some emails about Ironwood, Michigan’s, Ski Brule in the western upper peninsula of Michigan opening up. They are historically the first ski area in the state to open, and they did so on October 29th for the second-earliest opening in its history.  They also opened with two bunny slopes.

The earliest? Some emailed us that Pagosa Springs, Colorado’s Wolf Creek Ski Area opened Friday, October 21st on natural snow, marking its earliest ski and snowboard season opening ever. The resort has received a total of 57 inches of snowfall in September and October. THAT’S NATURAL SNOW – people! But they didn’t open first.

That honor went to A-Basin Ski Resort in ARAPAHOE BASIN, Colorado. The annual race between Colorado’s Loveland and Arapahoe Basin ski resorts for the marketing rights to become the first ski resort to open for the season went to A-Basin on Friday, October 14th, but not without a bit of last-minute drama.

With cold temperatures and a few early snowstorms in Colorado’s high country, A-Basin and Loveland, two resorts separated by a 15-minute car ride, had their snowmaking machines on high, pumping out white coverage on their chosen single runs. Both were feverishly fighting to get open first and A-Basin pulled it off literally HOURS before Loveland.

This season is getting started in a fast and furious way.  If this keeps up we could also see one of the LONGEST season’s on record but since there ARE those of you who believe in jinxs out there…we’ll pretend we didn’t say that!

Until Next Time … Congratulations to Cataloochee for being the first to open in the EAST, Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and North Carolina for the 2006-2007 season.  Tammy, you can quote SkiSoutheast and on this one.  YOU WIN THE HONORS.  Congrats.