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The Snowsports Industries of America (SIA) had their annual extravaganza.  The Snow Show at the Denver Convention Center began January 28, and the On Snow demo at Copper Mountain continued through February 2.  In the end 18,000 people participated and 137 companies were present on the snow.  My birthday was also February 2, so this was all hugely gratifying to me; so many people made such an effort on my behalf.


Actually I didn’t arrive until Saturday afternoon, and I felt like the kid who snuck in under the canvas into the big tent, but no one told me to leave so I took in as much as I could.  By the way, I found my legs on the snow but in the clean environs of the Convention Center, it was a little intimidating.


The variety of manufacturers seemed limitless; I wandered a little but mostly followed my heart; skis, skis, and so many skis, from Volkl to Voile and everyone else in the alphabet.  Some things that I noticed;  to get it out of the way I’ll start by mentioning  unimaginative graphics (this trend will be obvious in pictures later).  I was not a particular fan of the urban graffiti and twisted psychedelia that was the norm for about 10 years, but now the pendulum has thudded dully against the other extreme.  Some bright colors, basic geometry and no imagination; although, I got an email after the event which quoted Trend forecaster Jessica Kaplan saying “snow trends for 2016/17 encompassed hallmarks of the past with inspiration from the golden years of 1970s skiing across color palettes and silhouettes.”  I thought the graphics just kind of sucked, but I stand corrected.

Top sheets and appearance aside, on the floor at Denver picking up the skis, turning them over and weighing their balance was like choosing a fantasy super tool.  Without the bindings, and I am glad I got to examine so many skis flat, without the heavy demo bindings. On their own these skis are technological marvels; they are impossibly light to still have the substance and strength that is immediately obvious.  I think it is a golden age right now, the fact that a lot of these will retail for $800 is amazing.

There is a lot of silliness though.  The determination to come up with special branding and supposedly unique technology is over the top.  I have never seen so many attempts to brand wood; be it Aspen Paulownia or Poplar, as a proprietary material.

Which brings me to the Cutting Edge Café:

How may we help you?

I was hoping to find a good ski

Yes of course you were, may I suggest short radius slalom racing ski, monsieur?

Well I was thinking of something more general

Indeeed, of course you were.  Perhaps an all mountain?  Yes? What variety of core?

Well maybe dual titanal ….

Ha, ha , ha, yes.. how very 2012, of course you are kidding sir, I understand.  May I suggest a Bi-directional carbon matrix with proto polymer base?

Um , is that expensive?

Not at all sir, you pay a nominal fee for the words, that is all.

Despite some silliness, for example Icelantic skis purporting to have a “carbonium” top sheet (just look it up on wiki, I won’t waste your time) or some Volkl skis sporting a UVO (Ultimate Vibration Object, don’t look that up, at least not at work) and despite all the branding and posturing, the improvements in weight and torsional strength from only a few years ago are amazing,  and yes new carbon technologies have helped open that door.

Looking at the skis in a carpeted convention hall environment was all well and good, but for me the ON SNOW demo at Copper Mountain was the main event.  I love it when manufacturers come for demo days anywhere and in any number; so having 137 brands offering up next year’s goodies was near Nirvana for me.

So let’s go to the Snow.


I felt so lucky to try all this stuff out, such amazing gear.  While I’ve poked fun at the snobbery and I have a soft spot for the smaller independent companies, I have to say that some of my best conversations were with the big boys.  I recommend everyone break the ice with an austere Austrian racer, your whole day is better after that especially if you make them smile, and the Fischer Ranger was the BEST ski I tried.


Things I discovered, some of which I knew.

I think rocker technology has overrun its course.  To ski full rocker on anything firm wears you out.  It’s a powder (ONLY) tool that many manufacturers have unfortunately generalized; skiing rocker even intermittently on a groomer is like being beat with a cricket bat, so says this Southeastern Gaper.

I also used to think that heavy battleships were better all around, in crud, crust and choppy margins;  I don’t think so now.  Light stiff skis that you can move easily let you go in and out of trees, and skim through the trash. Lower swing weight and the efforts to lighten the ski’s tip and tail are major improvements. I didn’t drop cornices on them but I bet they make your first turn better, which is the turn that counts.

Before I name more of my favorite skis, allow me to share the general conditions. It was cold soft groomers with a lot of snow on the edges along the front side of Copper and I found West Virginia style trees there I never noticed before.

But when there are hundreds of prime skis available for the sampling you are so determined to get back to the tents for the next pair that it can limit how deep in the mountain you venture, ah the tyranny of luxury. I never had time to head to the back lifts and bowls but it made me look harder at the margins of the front side than I ever have before and though I’m familiar with Copper I found a lot of new stuff.

Voile Skis

My Scarpa boots are set up for tech (touring) bindings so I started the day skiing Voile skis. By the way all the manufacturers have expanded their lines to appeal to the economically important and expanding “back country” niche.  However, Voile’s focus has always been on general purpose and backcountry skiing. The Salt Lake City company has made a BC line of their touring oriented skis for a few years.  The Vector and Charger BC have a fish scale pattern under the middle of the ski for quick low angle ascents, in my opinion one was too large and loose at 112 mm underfoot and the other a little small for deep trees at  92mm . But now there is a BC version of their V6 which I tried and found just right at 100mm underfoot.  I wanted to try their “fish scale” pattern on groomers and crud to see how it affected slide and performance; last weekend I got to try it in trees and powder too.

G3 Skins

The pattern had a slowing effect on groomers, but it was not a problem and in the powder and trees it was not remotely noticeable.  Probably

you should not do slalom with the V6… use the V8 (the burly one on the right) it’s size will confuse the competition. All the manufacturers I saw had Dynafit Radical 2.0 bindings on their touring models.  These have a pivoting toe piece which improves their release values, fortunately it locks in touring mode but I still like my super light Speed Turns.

By the way, while geeking on touring stuff, I have to say that G3 had a skin innovation that looked amazing.

The front is a very light weight plastic shovel that has no resistance and the actual skin starts about a foot later.  It’s genius really.

And again in regard to BC check out this Leki pole, it’s carbon and  breaks down like an avalanche probe, mind you it will not be cheap.  The rep would not say but I think about $300.


So late afternoon I changed my tech soles to regular alpine DIN soles, it was thirsty work.


Which opened up the way for my favorite ski, as mentioned before, the Fischer Ranger 108, is the best crud to fast ski I have ever tried.  I hate ski language, it is so preposterous but even in bad conditions , when you lean into the tip it will initiate a smooth turn.  Absolutely my favorite all around, dare I say “one quiver”, “front side” ski.


I have never skied the Atomic Automatic, but have wanted to since it is a perennial in annual “Best Ski” lists.  The new iteration will be called the Backland, which is actually pretty funny as an indication of how much the companies want to capitalize on that valuable demographic.   Still it is an amazing ski, like the Ranger but much faster and wider in its turns.


Rossignol Soul7

For my daily ski I have the girl version, the Savory7, of the 180 cm Rossignol Soul7,  same ski just prettier (nothing understated about its graphics, a purple pixie on a pink Cadillac).   I checked out the 2017 Soul 7,  the one I skiied is listed now as a 182 and there is now a carbon matrix layered in which really does firm it up and control the chatter, making a great ski even better.

Moment Skis

Moment skis out of Tahoe is an independent US company I have also wanted to try and they did not disappoint.  Their Deathwish (what could go wrong) and lighter Underworld have amongst the most peculiar innovations, previously called the dirty moustache profile, their triple camber (see the apparent bend in the middle) allows an otherwise spinny ski to engage hard on edge.  At first I was scared but then loved it, or maybe I was just bored of the other brands graphics.

What a weekend, and to all the organizers and ski makers at the SIA show, thanks for all the candy, now I’m spoiled.  Please sir, may I have another?


It’s been snowing since Monday and it isn’t stopping anytime soon! Now is the time to make those plans to get up here for some of the best conditions of the entire season.
Still need convincing? We’ve got you, just keep reading:

  • We have last-minute lodging available for the upcoming holiday weekend and beyond
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  • The Wailers are playing at the Connection this Friday night! That’s right. THE Wailers

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Wintergreen saw a period of heavy snow yesterday morning.

I am so flustered this morning.  Flustered and incredibly antsy as I wish I wasn’t sitting in this chair right now and instead was getting some powder turns in this morning.  Mornings like this are when I reminisce back to my college days when I would skip class and go ride at Beech.  I don’t think I missed a powder day for a period of 3 or 4 years there.

Yesterday and today are legitimate powder days.  The Northwest Flow snow train has been going for about 48 hours now and it has delivered.  It’s even over delivered and has exceeded expectations in some instances.  I said yesterday morning that I thought the snowfall totals this morning would be similar to yesterday’s.  I was wrong.  It’s more.  Significantly more for a few of the resorts.  Look for yourself.

North Carolina24 Hours48 Hours
Appalachian Ski Mountain1″2″
Beech Mountain11″16″
Sapphire ValleyTraceTrace
Sugar Mountain7″11″
Wolf Ridge6″10″

Virginia24 Hours48 Hours
Bryce ResortTraceTrace

West Virginia24 Hours48 Hours
Canaan Valley9.4″13.5″

Maryland24 Hours48 Hours
Wisp Resort5″9″

Tennessee24 Hours48 Hours
Ober Gatlinburg6″9″

12715702_10102016555393918_495949080270154045_nThe usual suspects in North Carolina have been hit hard with the snow.  I believe I said on Monday that Sugar, Beech, and Wolf are the favored resorts in North Carolina in Northwest Flow, and sure enough they are leading the way here right now with all three having double digit storm totals right now.

If you remember from yesterday, I said that anything in the double digits is what I qualify as being a dump.  Well, Beech is reporting 11″ in the last 24 hours so that qualifies as a dump and today should be a crazy good powder day up there.  It is pretty windy though so beware of that, but that only means that the side of the trails should be wind loaded and have pockets of deep snow.  For anyone doubting the snowfall totals, the image to the right was taken from up on Beech this morning.  Those are some pretty good looking pillows there.

Up in West Virginia, Snowshoe, Canaan, and Timberline have all been getting it good as well.  They too all have double digit storm totals thus far.  Some of the pictures that came out of Snowshoe yesterday look so good!


Snowshoe has a gallery set up so you can view all of the photos from yesterday.  CLICK HERE to view all of them.

Ober Gatlinburg in Tennessee has been pelted with some decent snow as well.  They sometimes get left out of the snow party so it’s good to see them reporting a 9″ storm snowfall total thus far.  Hopefully they can get those two remaining trails open soon!

As for Virginia, they have seen periods of snow but as is the case most of the time with Northwest Flow events they are in somewhat of a snow shadow.  The image at the very top of this page was actually taken at Wintergreen yesterday morning and you can see it was nuking snow.  However, the snow tapered off pretty quickly and it was actually sunny in the afternoon.  It’s been plenty cold at all of the resorts though and all of them have been making snow.

Champagne Powder

One of the things I wanted to note about the snow is just how high quality it is.  Northwest Flow always brings the powdery, light snow and that is the case once again this time.  One of the CoCoRaHS stations that is near Wolf Ridge is reporting 5.5″ of snow in the past 24 hours, with a liquid content of 0.16″.  Do the math and that is a snow to liquid ratio of 34 to 1.  That’s what we call blower pow and it’s what dreams are made of.  Ha.  For real though, it’s called blower pow because you can pick up a handful of snow and simply blow on it and it will all float away.  It’s the best.

Another Day of Snow

The Northwest Flow continues today and snow will continue to pile up.  It’s dumping this morning at some of the resorts still.  Check out the Silver Creek cam at Snowshoe.

We shouldn’t see as much snow today as yesterday, but several more inches are a good possibility for the favored locations.  Just look at the forecast for Snowshoe from the NWS over the next 36 hours.

Snow showers. High near 9. Wind chill values as low as -14. West wind around 14 mph, with gusts as high as 26 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. Total daytime snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches possible.

Snow showers. Low around -4. Wind chill values as low as -19. West wind around 16 mph, with gusts as high as 36 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.

Snow showers likely, mainly before 2pm. Cloudy and cold, with a high near 2. Wind chill values as low as -22. Breezy, with a west wind 16 to 21 mph, with gusts as high as 31 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New snow accumulation of 3 to 5 inches possible.

That comes out to another 5-10″ of snow on top of what has already fallen.  The snow forecast for the favored locations here in North Carolina isn’t for as much, only a few more inches.  I wasn’t expecting to see 11″ at Beech this morning though, so you never know.

Also take note of the extreme cold.  Wind chills are brutal today and tomorrow.  I feel like a broken record saying this again, but BUNDLE UP.  Tip of the day, buy hand and foot warmers.

President’s Day Weekend

Many of you who are reading this probably have a ski vacation planned for the upcoming holiday weekend and are giddy with excitement at the snow this week.  You should be!  This weekend is going to provide peak season conditions and is going to be the best one of the winter thus far.  The timing couldn’t be better.  I’m already making plans to ride Saturday and maybe Monday as well.  If you haven’t made your own plans yet to get some turns in, do it now!

I’m out of here on that note. Enjoy another day of snow!

The Northwest Flow snow train continues to chug along today.  It started to snow during the late morning hours yesterday and continued into the afternoon and overnight.  I was scanning the webcams in the afternoon yesterday and found that some big ole fat flakes were falling up at Canaan Valley.  It was beautiful.

We have a number of resorts that are reporting 4-5″ of new snow, which in my mind qualifies as a mini-powder day for here in the Southeast.  Just for future reference, here is my personal scale in terms of how I describe snow events (for the Southeast anyways).  For me, 1-3″ is a light snow, 3-6″ is moderate, 6-10″ is significant snow, and anything double digits and above is a dump.  So some of today’s snowfall numbers falls into the moderate snow range on my scale.  Let’s take a look at those numbers.

North Carolina
Appalachian Ski Mountain – 1″ (unverified)
Beech Mountain – 5″
Cataloochee – 3-4″ (unverified)
Sapphire Valley – Trace
Sugar Mountain – 4″
Wolf Ridge – 4″

Bryce Resort – 1″
Massanutten Resort – 1″
The Omni Homestead – Trace (unverified)
Wintergreen Resort – Trace (unverified)

West Virginia
Canaan Valley – 4.1″
Oglebay Resort – 1″
Snowshoe – 4″
Timberline – 4.1″
Winterplace – 2″

Wisp Resort – 4″

Ober Gatlinburg – 3″

A couple of things…the winner so far is Beech Mountain.  I was a little surprised to see the 5 inch number this morning so I checked CoCoRaHS site and it verified, so indeed they have seen 5″ of snow.  Beech is always a big winner when it comes to Northwest Flow snow events due to their high elevation and their location right near the Tennessee border.

Second, a few of those numbers I posted have unverified in parentheses beside them.  That’s because those resorts haven’t posted snowfall numbers and I had to get those numbers elsewhere.  That is a big pet peeve of mine and I think I’ve mentioned it already once this season.  It’s crazy to me that some of the ski resorts don’t post snowfall numbers!  App Ski Mtn generally never posts numbers which is hugely frustrating, but they are saying 2″ of new snow on their site, but I believe that is them referring to manmade snow which Mike already discussed over the weekend.  Cataloochee updates their report at night, which is weird, so their snow report only says a trace of snow and does not include snow that fell overnight.  Wintergreen and Homestead are generally good with snowfall numbers, but I think they are simply running a little late this morning.

As soon as I got done doing the First Trax report yesterday morning, Brad Panovich sent in his latest video forecast.  I posted it up on the site yesterday but here is what he was saying as of yesterday morning.  Nothing much has changed.

I love how he uses the phrase “pow pow”.  Spoken like a true snow lover.

As he talked about, another surge of moisture and cold air moves in today.  The snow showers will continue throughout the day so it should be fun to watch on the webcams.  We won’t see any nuking snow per se, but it will add up over time.  I have a feeling tomorrow’s snowfall numbers will probably look pretty similar to today’s.

One final thing about he weather today and I know I mentioned it yesterday, but it is COLD.  As of this morning the temperature was in the single digits at Beech and the wind chill was in the negatives!

It’s not quite as cold at the other resorts, but it’s still chilly nonetheless.  Tomorrow looks even colder!  If you look at the SNOW REPORT page you’ll also see that a lot of the resorts are making snow and will probably be continuing to do so over the next few days.  President’s Day is this weekend so they need to bolster slope conditions as much as possible.  The cold, snow, and snowmaking will make for a terrible experience if you aren’t prepared properly, so make sure to bundle up!  The more layers the better!

Win a Pair of Beech Lift Tickets

Since I’m in a good mood, let’s give away a pair of lift tickets to Beech Mountain that are good any day of the week.  All you have to do is send us a photo on social media today or tomorrow from on the mountain.  Simply post it to our Facebook page, or tag us on Twitter (@skisoutheast) or Instagram (@skisoutheast) so we can see it.  The best picture will get two lift tickets to Beech, so let’s see those photos!

Snow Day for the Kiddies

12651040_10153219907947721_3899635377984460781_nA lot of the schools in the mountains are out today due to the snow.  Many ski areas, especially in North Carolina, have discounted lift tickets for students and teachers when schools are out.  So if you have kids and some free time today (or tomorrow probably too), it’s a great opportunity to get some turns in for cheap.  For instance, Wolf Ridge offers $15 lift tickets.

Let it snow! 4+ inches of fresh new natural powder on the mountain! That means Snow Day Special for students and teachers – $15 tickets, $7 ski rentals, $15 snowboard rentals. It is also Two For Tuesday! Buy one ticket, get one free!. There is no excuse for not joining us on the mountain today! We look forward to seeing you on the slopes!

As I said, most of the North Carolina ski areas offer something similar and I know Massanutten has a snow day special as well, so check the ski area websites or give them a call.

One final note, if you are thinking of heading to Wintergreen and are trying to call them, their phones are current out of service.

Urgent Message: A cable cut in the surrounding area has impacted landline and cell phone service at Wintergreen and in the Nelson County area. The resort is in full operation, we just can’t answer outside phone calls. However, we can respond to you by email if you have questions. For ski related calls, please email [email protected]. For lodging related calls, email [email protected]. For other questions, email [email protected]

Just wanted to give a heads up about that.

Everyone enjoy the snow today!

The cold and stormy pattern is back. Today we start a 4 day North West Flow snow event.  Powder conditions will be prevalent at the ski areas across the Southeast.  It’s going to be a good week!  Watch the video below for all the details.

Hello Everyone –

By virtue of working in the ski industry for over 30-years I have been able to see the addition of snowboarding into the great sport from basically the ground up. When I started skiing with my first turns on the slopes of Massanutten Ski Resort in Virginia, I can’t remember seeing any snowboarders on the slopes, despite the fact that it came after Jake Burton Carpenter perfected the equipment in 1977, but I was told they were there. Honestly, I was more worried about staying upright myself.

It has been widely reported through the years by hundreds if not thousands of reporters that the mixing of skiers and snowboarders was, and stop me if you haven’t heard this before, like mixing oil and vinegar. The response from skiers from day one to snowboarders invading their space on the slopes, was like when Bob Dylan switched from acoustic to electric guitar (if you are old enough to remember that, which I am), there were many music lovers who would’ve rather Dylan had just stopped performing.

As most of us old-timers know that didn’t happen and Dylan continued on with his Hall of Fame musical career and low and behold, even performed with his acoustic guitar again, allowing everyone to be happy and understand that normal is basically what you want normal to be and maybe that means going back and forth with change.

Now back to the battle of skier versus snowboarder. I saw it get hot and heavy in the early and mid-90’s as a number of resort operators resisted even allowing snowboarders on their slopes. That was happening even though every snowboarder was paying the same thing for a lift ticket that a skier was paying. Go figure, huh. But little by little the majority of the ski resorts across the country, understanding that snowboarding wasn’t going to go away, and the bottom line was well the bottom line, allowed the one plankers their spot on the slopes.

This just made some skiers fume even more, with some even going to the various management teams, asking and even demanding to have their own trails, with snowboarders not allowed on the terrain. This actually occurred at some resorts for a very short time, but as time went by, it was determined that snowboarding wasn’t going to go away and they were allowed to enjoy the same amount of acreage as skiers.

Okay, 450 words into this week’s column and I am about to get to the point of this week’s message and that being, after I thought the skier versus snowboarder battle had gone by the way side, the ugly dragon has resurfaced. Time for full disclosure here, in 1997 I made my first turns on the snowboard and haven’t looked back. Seriously I haven’t been on skis since that December day on the Skidder slope at Snowshoe Mountain. I really don’t know why I haven’t skied, I just haven’t, that’s all I have to say about that (thanks Forrest).

As you learned by reading last week’s column, I returned to the slopes after a two plus year layoff from snowboarding late last month at Winterplace Ski Resort. While I really didn’t see or hear any evidence that the battle between the one and two plankers during my time on the slopes, I did notice that one thing hadn’t changed, the number of skiers compared to snowboarders still is about a 70 to 30 percent ratio. Meaning, if you are keeping score at home, for every seven skiers out there on the slopes, there were about three snowboarders. That is basically where the ratio has been since the turn of the century.

There was a time when I heard skiers say they were worried that snowboarding was going to take over the sport they loved. Well we all know that didn’t and isn’t going to happen. What did happen was that the equipment skiers were using all of a sudden got shorter and a bit wider. I truly don’t believe that happened by accident, because more and more skiers came to realize that shorter and wider was easier to control and could be just as much fun as those skinny long boards could be.

As I wasn’t searching for a topic for this week’s column earlier in the week, I was given a suggestion by Shawn Cassell, the Public Relations Specialist for Snowshoe Mountain. While talking to him about the annual Cupp Run Challenge that took place earlier in the week, he told me about a skier who complained about having the young snowboarders and skiers, compete first in the race, as the weather wasn’t the best in the world and the event organizers were concerned about the young athletes being out in not so good conditions.

As Shawn tells it, all of the competitors were made aware of the change in the running order of the downhill event and everyone, well almost everyone as it turns out was okay with the change. The race went off and one of the premier ski races in the region was concluded without much of a hitch, other than the skiers and snowboarders having to deal with Mother Nature’s curveball.

Well later after the race, one, count them, one skier complained that the young snowboarders (not the skiers) messed up the course and it made him have problems on their run. And so the battle continues, skier versus snowboarder continues after all these years. Shawn, truth be told, also a snowboarder, suggested that I use the subject for an upcoming column. So there you have it, this week’s thought process from an old fan of this great winter sport.

I am glad the complaint wasn’t given to me by the skier, because I probably would have just shaken my head and thought (hopefully not said), “Just grow up.” That argument is just old and tired. You see at the end of the day, skiers and snowboard alike push snow and create grooves when traveling on the white stuff. But as some music lovers have never forgiven Dylan, some skiers are always going to have a negative outlook on snowboarding, the aspect of the sport that created a resurgence in a sport that needed the uplift when Mr. Burton saw a need for something new. I guess some things will just never change, will they?

That’s it for this week’s column, as always, 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.