HOW QUICKLY WE FORGET

Hello Everyone –

In early December the southern portion of the southeast ski region was hammered (and I don’t use that word often) with natural snow. Most resorts from Winterplace Ski Resort in West Virginia and south of it received at least 18-inches of Mother Nature gold – you know the stuff that just sits there, inviting you to have some fun in the winter.

Due to that late fall snow storm and the cold temperatures that traveled with it, the pictures from all of the resorts were looking like what everyone expects and craves at mid-season. There were smiles from Florida to the nation’s capital, as the phones rang off the hook at the resorts with reservations being made left and right. As I have pointed out many times before, the best marketing tool is when it snows in metro areas that provides visitors to southeast ski resorts. As memory serves me, cities like Charlotte, Richmond, Roanoke all received their fair share of that gold. For a couple of days, snow lovers weren’t seeing their dark green lawns, but snow-covered walkways and driveways. You just can’t beat that type of promotion.

Okay let’s advance a week later and what happens. Well, that beautiful and perfect natural snow has turned into what I have been calling “under developed” snow. The ever wise editor of this website chuckles every time he types that description and many times gives me credit for coming up with the term. I don’t know if he is correct or not, but hey, keep those letters coming. Now back to my point here. As soon as that developed snow turned, so did a lot of perspective visitors.

While the phones kept ringing, the pace definitely slowed down, as if everything that was on the slopes was going to melt and go back into the snowmaking ponds and lakes. Remember, this is the recyclable function of the ski industry. In reality, what happened at all of the resorts was that the natural snow that made everything nice and pretty off the slopes went away. That’s it folks, the snow that everyone was seeing in the bushes and trees melted. The snow that was made prior to and during the snow storm was for the most part right where it needed to be, on the slopes. All you need to do is check the webcams of your favorite ski area and you will understand what I am writing about this week.

My 14-year old son Christian has been wide eyed all week in anticipation of making his first turns of the season, with one of his best friends at Winterplace. His excitement about what he was seeing on that resort’s webcam and other resort webcams fueled his anticipation of those first turns. Then he did it, he checked the advanced forecast for southern West Virginia, where Winterplace was located, indicated there was some of that “underdeveloped snow” in the forecast for the day those first turns were scheduled to take place.

Being the son of the Executive Director of the West Virginia Ski Areas Association (full disclosure here) helped him understand that any weather forecast more than 48-hours out, needs to be taken for the most part with a grain of salt. But, the wet forecast remained in place, so he did what any true snow lover should do, he checked Winterplace’s webcam and a smile appeared when he looked up from his phone. Now please understand, this all occurred the night before the scheduled first turns and happened while sitting at a restaurant in Hurricane, West Virginia. I am bringing this fact out, because a quick check on slope conditions can happened, anytime, anyplace.

Well, Christian looked across the table at me and stated, “It might be a little wet on Sunday, but you know what, all of the snow is right where it is supposed to be, on the slopes.” It looks like he was listening during the many interviews I have done through the years in my position. He also said to me, “I know we are going to get a little wet, but we will be dressed for it and we will take some dry clothes for the ride home.” Spoken by a true lover of having fun on the slopes.

This all circles me back around to a point that I wanted to make earlier in this week’s column, but just now getting to it and that being, we are in great shape as the holiday season is just about upon every resort in the region. Seriously, I realize that all of the pretty stuff has left us, but like Frosty, it’s coming back, just don’t let this little hiccup deter you from making those reservations. All of the resorts in the region have done a great job getting ready for this season. When possible, they have taken advantage of every second of snowmaking temperatures and that is evident with the amount of snow on the open terrain. Don’t get me started on how much snow if needed to have fun, regular readers of this column understand my opinion there.

There are some of you out there, not all, but some that still think that the advance forecasts you read on whatever weather app you use on your phone is total fact, but it should be ignored to be honest with you. There have already been the following statements given to reservationists at resorts, “the weather forecast is calling for rain on January 18 and I have three days booked, I am worried and would like to cancel. What do you think the weather is going to be during that time?” You may as well be asking that person to throw a dart and give a prediction from that that dart sticks. Hey, it’s okay folks, there is plenty of snow out there now and there will be when you arrive at your favorite resort.

Now it’s time to pack two 14-year olds into the Subaru and head for those first turns of the season.

That’s it for this week, of course, there’s 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.

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Joe Stevens
Joe is well known around the southeastern ski circles. Stevens was Director of Communications at Snowshoe Mountain Resort for 16 seasons with another 15 years prior to that in Richmond, Virginia newsrooms. Joe serves on numerous boards and committees and currently is a spokesperson for the West Virginia ski areas.Joe has been a featured columnist on SkiSoutheast since 2005 and has written numerous articles for us, as well as for others promoting all of the southeastern ski resorts. Joe resides in Charleston, West Virginia, with his wife, Angie, and son, Christian. He is an avid snowboarder and marathon runner.