September 3rd, 2007 Ramblings

It’s September 3rd…and I feel like rambling a bit…

Within this ramble, I’ll cover:

(1) The most amazing college football "upset" that I have ever seen.

(2) Phoenix Mountain NO-Ski Area


Perhaps the best TEAM in college football is the Mountaineers of Appalachian State, located in Boone, North Carolina. In case you were camping out under a rock this past weekend, Appalachian State defeated Michigan in what many are now saying is the greatest upset in college football history. For the record, not everyone saying that is from the High Country! ESPN and others reported that at no time in history has a college football team from I-AA beaten a ranked I-A team. Not only did they beat Number FIVE ranked Michigan, they did do in front of 107,000 Michigan fans…many of whom booed the home team on a number of occasions. Appalachian State led most of the game and literally outplayed them from start to finish.

For naysayers who would complain of my statement of App being the best team in college football, I am NOT alluding to who would go unfeated and creme all of their competition. That honor would probably go to the USC Trojans. They have the best talent and frankly could take on some of the teams in the NFL and win. However, the best T-E-A-M may just be the Appalachian State Mountaineers. Congratulations on what was a phenomenal victory in Ann Arbor, Michigan on Saturday!

I was doing some pre-game preparations for the South Carolina / Ooh La La game in Columbia on Saturday at Wild Wings Cafe. Every television in the place was tuned to the Appalachian / Michigan game and most of the roudiest fans were Ohio State fans (only one table was Michigan faithful) and you can only imagine how "grateful" the OSU fans were. They were literally STANDING in their seats IN THE RESTAURANT as App State took the lead with 23 seconds left in the game. Seconds later it appeared that the refs were trying to steal the game on behalf of the Wolverines as Michigan’s receiver obviously pushed off and caught a bomb that setup a potential game-winning field goal with six seconds left. When the kick was blocked, the place went bonkers. By the way, we were not the only App State fans in the place.

What a victory! Great win! Jerry Moore is already one pretty popular dude in the area…and I can only imagine that this will add to his lore.

Even before the win over Michigan, folks in Boone, N.C., were pumped for the season. The Mountaineers are trying to become the first team to win three straight national titles in what is now called the Football Championship Subdivision. This win over a major division opponent has got to be feeding their fans with much anticipation for an undefeated season.

10pm update: A couple of people emailed me some interesting addendums to our story.  Jules Brennan wrote, "Mike, I was up at Ann Arbor for the game and I saw one of the coolest signs.  One brilliant ASU fan had created a poster that read, ‘ASU #1, Michigan #5 – Underdog?’"

Very cool sign indeed.

Janette Dean wrote, "On the Appalachian State campus downtown, a crowd estimated in the thousands streamed out of dormitories and student apartments, headed for Kidd Brewer Stadium and tore down one of the goal posts — no matter that the game took place almost 600 miles away in Ann Arbor, Mich. They carried it in a serpentine route through campus, knocking over two lamp posts in one particularly tight spot, then up Rivers Street and hilly Bodenheimer Drive to Chancellor Kenneth Peacock’s residence, where they deposited the souvenir neatly in the middle of his driveway. The scene was promptly marked off with yellow police tape.

For college football’s elite teams, the first week of the season is generally an opportunity to feast on a weaker opponent at home. Such low-risk games like the one between Appalachian State and Michigan had until Saturday always resulted in victories for the bigger program that left fans happy and universities rich.

But with Appalachian State’s victory at fifth-ranked Michigan, N.C.A.A.’s top teams will probably be more selective in scheduling those early games.


We’ve been getting a fair amount of emails in the last six months asking for ANY kind of news about the proposed new ski area called "Pheonix Mountain". I posted a bit of an update a few months back that alluded to the fact that all signs pointed to the fact that there would be no ski area.

My several phone calls and a few emails and calls that were made by friends close to SkiNC and SkiSoutheast referenced contacts that stated all sorts of "news" as to doubt that there would be a "Phoenix Mountain".

Months ago (as early as last ski season) I tried to squash anymore talk of Phoenix Mountain for a couple of reasons. I figured either that I’d ruffle a few feathers and get someone with real information to talk with us. The other reason that I tried to put an end to that farce of a story months ago was that I felt it unfair to the wonderful people of Ashe County to continue to "jerk them around" by creating false hope for a financial boon to the area’s populus.

Months ago I wrote that if people would read between the lines, that the developers probably had no intentions of doing anything more than a really nice, upscale residential community. I firmy believe that the initial ideas were to TRY to include some form of ski slopes to appease the original idea of Eric Hunter, the original owner of the property.

Even as far back as late 2005 and early 2006 (see article posted in 2005 – ) the developers were tweaking their original statements about the community. However, rather than rehash old news, I thought that I would comment on the MOST RECENT statements and "SPIN" that the developers are NOW saying.

In a well written, recent story by Linda Burchette that appeared in the Jefferson Post, she quoted Elias Tobchi (one of the developing partners) as saying, "“It was clear to us and to county officials that with the amount of land available and current weather conditions that a ski resort was not possible,” Tobchi said. “It would have been nice, but just not the right thing. It was not a Prestige decision to not build the ski resort. It was not a financial decision and the project was not abandoned. Research showed it was just not feasible.”

First, if they are speaking to "current weather conditions" as in – TODAY – heck NO it’s not feasible. The thermometer rose to nearly 90° again today. As far as I know – no ski areas cranked up their snow making equipment today. (When it comes to these money people putting their SPIN on things, you have to know that they use and choose their words wisely so that nobody can really catch them in a falsehood.

H-O-W-E-V-E-R…not so fast my brother Tobchi. I have a booklet that is more than 2.5" thick (no exaggeration) that shows every feasibility study possible that says that not only IS (or was) it feasible…that it would do well. Ski resort dreamer, and self-made multimillionaire, Eric Hunter invested quite a large sum of money (some say more than a million or so) to get the ball rolling. He dug a feeder pond, cut roads, cleared slopes and actually brought in weather and elevation experts (as well as snowmakers) and MADE snow there. (We have the photos.) Eric Hunter, HAD (still has) the money to build a ski resort AND he had the desire. What he didn’t (still doesn’t) have was the TIME to do it. As of the last time that I had any contact with him, he was off to the UK making another huge bit of money inventing something else. For those unaware, Eric Hunter was involved in inventing/perfecting LED technology and later in inventing how to produce moisenaise in a lab. Moisenay is the material of choice for "fake" diamonds. I digress…the bottom line is that he’s off making another fortune so he basically invested in and contracted with real estate promotion giant, Sheldon Good & Associates to sell his dream (and the land) to someone better suited to take it on.

Then weeks passed. Months. Several potential buyers came calling, but none with a real hankering to make snow atop the high elevations. Every prospective buyer was provided the same volumnous materials showing in huge detail, the resort as a ski area / residential community. Seal bids were accepted and nobody took the bait…at least NOT to build a ski resort. The most recent articles (that have ALL been emailed to me) ALL write with a "surprised take" on the "new" news that Phoenix Mountain won’t become a reality. For the record, we wrote that more than 10 months ago (do a search). All one had to do is read without any prejudice what the developers and other potential partners were saying. We spoke with a couple of the town alderman and even they were not very forthcoming months ago.

NOW, they and the developers are all saying that after careful study, that it is not feasible. I would LOVE to hear what former property owner, Eric Hunter, is saying about those statement. I’m sure he’s comfortable with the idea that his land (he still owns a bunch surrounding the sold
property) will become a beautiful, Adirondack-style community like ten others being developed right now in the areas from Asheville to Ashe County…but I’d also bet he’s at least somewhat disappointed.

Since we are a website devoted solely to ski and snowboarding resorts, we will not provide any additional, promotional space discussing what IS to become of the property except to quote Mr Tobchi who said, "The partnership is focusing on a highend residential community of multi-million dollar homes. Some spec homes will be built with lots sold for homesite construction. Road construction has already begun on the estimated 30,000 feet of roads through the community and the entrance off old Highway 16. Some blasting is expected in the next couple of months."

(When they advertise with us, we’ll talk a lot more!) Until then…th-th-that’s all folks.

News devoted to what’s been going on during the off-season across the entire region will be coming your way very soon. Keep checking back and thanks to Dorothy Jennings for emailing the heck out of me to post this news and update (and final one at that) about the ski resort that never was.

Until next time…

Be sure to check back within a day or so as I discuss not ONE, but TWO indoor ski areas that look to challenge North Carolina’s ski areas for traffic.