Hello Everyone –
Don’t look now but this past Saturday, December 21, 2013 was a very special day to every ski resort operator in the Southeast region, the first day of winter came at 12:15 pm. It probably occurred without many of you noticing it, since there were record mild temperatures throughout the area. Where I live in West Virginia, the temperature reached the mid 70’s. On the first day of winter, come on Mother Nature give us a break on this one. However, worry not my friends it’s only a bit of a speed bump as it pertains to the weather.
It looks like this mild front will probably be out of the region by the time you read this as I am scribing the column Sunday morning. I know most of you are probably not headed to a resort during the holidays as that time seems to be reserved for everyone looking for a white Christmas from parts further south, but that is one thing the resorts in this region can guarantee (add in a Cajun accent please) and that’s a white Christmas and this year you can toss in the term man-made blizzard variety.
You see while many of us metro flatlanders have been raking leaves and getting in those last motorcycle rides of the year, the snowmakers from Tennessee to Maryland have been working overtime to put one of the best bases down for early season skiing, snowboarding and snowboarding in recent memory. In other words while we haven’t seen much of the white stuff in our back yards, the snowmakers have had great opportunities in November and this month to use every bit of air and snowmaking machinery whenever possible to cover the slopes. If you don’t believe me, check out the webcams on this website and see for yourself. There have been a couple of days when the slopes have looked a little worn, but then the temperature has dropped and in most cases overnight the slopes are covered again and all is well on the slopes for skiers and snowboarders.
Last week I mentioned that a number of resorts in the southeast have gotten their tubing hills open for the holidays and I received a couple of emails from diehard skiers and snowboarders saying the resorts should’ve worried about opening more terrain then the tubing hill. To that I say bah humbug! Just look around in addition to more skiing and terrain opening everyday (just check out Tim’s Daily Trax and you’ll learn more) most resorts have one, two and in a couple of cases three terrain parks open now for those who want to defy gravity. By the way, that doesn’t include me, so there is more space for you. I’m just that old snowboarder that poaches the park areas and likes surfing on the berms. Don’t worry I make sure nothing is airborne around me.
The point I am again making here is that the resorts have done an awesome job of pulling the snowmaking trigger this year and not looking back. The only reason they have stopped at any point this year is because the temperature hasn’t allowed the snowmakers to work. But knowing those guys like I do, they take those times to move or get the equipment ready for making snow on non-open terrain. It’s like a chess game, you always have to try and be one move ahead of Mother Nature. Not the easiest thing to do but I would and always do put our snowmakers up against any snowmakers in the country. When you hear of the northeast or western regions getting tons of natural snow, our snowmakers around these parts are making tons of snow their way.
Had a reporter ask me how “artificial snow” was on the slopes this year, which made the hairs on my neck stand straight up! Being as professional as I could, I informed the reporter that “artificial snow” was something that came out of a can and you sprayed on windows during the holiday season. The resort’s snowmakers make “real” manmade snow; there is nothing fake around the cold water, mixing with the cold air, being blasted in the cold temperatures making “real” snow. I am not Mr. Wizard, but it just irks me when someone refers to the snow made by the resorts as artificial. There is nothing fake about it, point, set and match.
Finally this week the region is losing a resort veteran the first of the year. I received a message from Mike Valach that he is leaving Wisp Resort in Maryland to become Vice President of Operations at Camelback Resort in Pennsylvania. Mike has worked at Snowshoe Mountain, The Homestead and Wisp since the 80’s and many of the on-slope fun you have enjoyed in this region have been Mike’s idea. I have appreciated his “dam the torpedoes” attitude and now the skiers and snowboarders in the Quaker state will get Mike’s expertise. Enjoy your new digs my friend.
That’s it for this week, more to come as the season continues, just remember whether it be cold or whether it be hot, we’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather will be. Think about it! See you on the slopes and enjoy the holidays, you deserve it! Merry Christmas everyone!