Wall Street Journals – 10 Things Ski Resort Won’t Tell You – Story is Rebutted.

We’re going to talk some weather and address the Wall Street Journal’s recent "10 Things Ski Resorts Won’t Tell You" story. Our question of the day is "Are you smoking pot on the slopes!?!?!"

Read on…


Brad Panovich is sharing some good news that this wet and milder-than-wished for pattern may be changing. He’s talking "signs" today on his newest Skier’s Forecast Video. The pattern that has seen one major storm after another bomb California with rain and snow is changing the pattern as each pushes into the United States according to Brad. He says that each of these storms is digging a deeper trough into the middle of the country and that trough is slowly going to allow some colder air into the Southeast and Mid Atlantic. His forecast video is titled "Big Changes" and he says those big changes will take effect next week. He’s forecasting some temperatures that will allow our ski resorts to make snow and according to him we’ll see some natural snow as well – next week.

Check out the Skier’s Forecast Video

Prior to those big changes we have to get through this upcoming weekend. We began seeing some icing in the mountain communities on Thursday mid day and we’ve received numerous reports of roads icing over at some of the higher elevations. In fact, school is out here in Watauga County AGAIN today. Brad’s forecasting some frozen precip (mostly freezing rain and icing) Friday and maybe even Saturday and into Sunday. We’re not seeing anything like the Christmas Day ice storm, but there is some icing on trees and untreated roadways, etc. The main roads are clear, but you can check the road conditions via our website.

So for today and into Saturday we’re looking at pockets of a wintry mix made up of mostly freezing drizzle and rain. Saturday will feature periods of drizzle, some freezing drizzle and even some clearing skies so Saturday is definately not going to be a wash out if you want to go make some turns.

Sunday is looking yucky with some possible severe weather in the form of heavy rain. Sunday’s forecast looks downright U-G-L-Y. However THAT is the storm that will signal and change to the pattern.

Behind that THANKFULLY (and well timed) will be the big change that Brad is forecasting. Resorts should be able to make snow beginning Monday night and then highs Monday through at least Thursday will be for highs in the 30s and lows in the teens and low 20s. Some snow is in the forecast for Monday night and Tuesday. Forecasters are already pointing to next Friday as another "interesting" weather day. THINK SNOW AND COLD!

Here’s a quick weekend weather summary for the region:

NC Mountains:

Friday: hi 42° lo 32° Drizzle/freezing drizzle

Saturday: hi 45° lo 34° Patchy drizzle with rain developing later

Sunday: hi 53° lo 35° Rain heavy at times. Windy, heavy rain late.

VA Mountains: (Forecast based at Wintergreen)

Friday: hi 38° lo 28° Wintry mix possible 1-2" of snow and sleet

Saturday: hi 40° lo 33° Partly sunny and perhaps a decent day

Sunday: hi 50° lo 42° Steady rains

WV Mountains (including Wisp Resort):

Friday: hi 35° lo 28° Wintry mix possible 1-2" of snow, sleet and cold rain

Saturday: hi 38° lo 32° Partly sunny and perhaps a decent day

Sunday: hi 40° lo 33° Steady rains


Most of our region’s resorts remain 100% open with only a few exceptions. Check the SNOW REPORT for all the details.

Bryce Resort in Virginia is reporting 2-3" of snow in the last 24 hours (the only resort in the region to report any accumulation).

Wintergreen Resort is hosting their Wounded Warrior Weekend. It is all about saying thanks to those who serve and protect and to give back to our wounded warriors through friendship and learning a snowsport. The weather is looking pretty good there for Saturday.

Snowshoe Mountain’s morning post indicates some ice accumulation. They write, "We may have some delayed lift openings this morning while we de-ice. We’ll get all lifts open as quickly as possible. Powdermonkey and Powderridge and all lifts at the Silver Creek area will open on time at 9am. We appreciate your patience.* **Flying Eagle lift will be open from 12pm to 4:30. Please note this will delay some trail openings, so please pay attention to Snowshoe signage and personnel.** *The top of Heislers Way will be closed from approximately 11am-1pm for routine maintenance. Please pay attention to Snowshoe personnel and signage and stay off closed terrain*"

Wisp Resort made snow the last two days but it’s 22° there this morning but they are not making snow. That’s an indication that things are looking darn nice there.

It looks like only Wintergreen Resort was able to make a little snow overnight and the only measurable precip was at Bryce which is reporting 2-3" of what we suspect is a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain.

ANYONE SEEN WALL STREET JOURNAL’S "10 Things Ski Resorts Won’t Tell You"

The story recently ran via "SmartMoney" and was written by two ladies, Vera Gibbons and Lisa Scherzer, who OBVIOUSLY didn’t do their homework. The National Ski Areas Association has already posted a rather vague response rebutting many of the points made within the story. We thought we share the story and the NSAA’s response with you guys and then also make some comments of our own.

We’ll call this "Speaking for our peeps" (the ski resort management teams within our coverage area).

As I read the Wall Street Journal SmartMoney (WSJ) story I couldn’t help but notice several ludicrous comments that jumped out at me. Perhaps the craziest comment was that supposedly one of the top ten things that ski resorts won’t tell you is that, "…manmade snow isn’t as good as God’s own powder!?!?!"


Another was that "Ski resorts won’t tell you that there are some stoners out on the snow."

Where do they get this stuff?

I have to admit I read it a week ago and thought that there were SOME legitimate comments in the story, but there’s so much misinformation in it that I knew I’d end up having to write about it and posting some comments of our own. Then Joe Stevens of "Joe Knows Snow" emailed me the TSIL report that referenced the story and the fact that the National Ski Areas Association has now responded. By the way, other ski associations have now followed suit and I’m sure that Wall Street Journal is hearing it from several ski areas as well.

You can read the full article by going to The Wall Street Journal’s SmartMoney site

You can read the National Ski Areas Association’s response at: NSAA Response

You can read both and come to your own assessment and decision as to what portions you feel are accurate or BS and we’d LOVE to hear your comments so drop us an email at [email protected]  and talk to us.

After reading both articles I have the following thoughts:

The NSAA’s response stated that they were writing their comments to "expose the inaccuracies and misperceptions contained in the article" and then they didn’t really do so. Okay, I guess the NSAA did an okay job with a couple of points within WSJ’s story.

Wall Street Journal listed the NUMBER ONE thing that ski resorts won’t tell you as, “Snowboarders are our best friend—and your worst enemy.”

The NSAA responded. "Nothing could be further from the truth. The authors fail to recognize that many skiers also snowboard, and vice versa. Furthermore, scientific research shows that there have been no significant changes in the rate of collision accidents since the advent of snowboarding. In fact, the research shows that alpine skiers are three times more likely to be involved in a collision with other people than snowboarders."

I going to give the NSAA a high "B" for this answer because ski areas are definately embracing snowboarders these days BECAUSE THAT IS WHERE THE MONEY IS. Hence the "snowboarders are our best friend" comment. However the truth is that I can’t figure out for the life of me where WSJ got the "…and your worst enemy" from. What does that even MEAN? I’m envisioning skier’s dressed out in winter Olympic biathlon outfits that combines cross-country skiing with rifle shooting. So I guess the "enemy" is snowboarders. Ready, aim…

The premise that ski resorts are "mixing skiers with snowboarders" and that trouble of some sort will ensue is nonsense. I don’t know anyone who thinks this way…period…end of conversation. I HAVE heard the argument that some skiers don’t like snowboarders because they really shave the snow off a slope and cause the ice, but that argument is invalid because newbie skiers do the same thing with the "pizza" ski technique. So point one is nonsense.

NUMBER TWO on WSJ’s hit parade was "We fudge our snow conditions". I’m not going to rehash more than 1500 references that we’ve made to that subject in our fourteen years of reporting. Go search the archives. The only thing I WILL say is that the NSAA didn’t even really TOUCH that statement with their own response. GRADE ON THAT ONE: "F"

Here’s the NSAA’s response about "fudging snow conditions".

"In another section, the article suggests that ski areas “fudge” their snow fall data, and questions how one ski area could receive four inches of snow while another ski area just a few miles away receives 12 inches. Clearly in alpine environments, snow conditions can in fact vary greatly from resort to resort, and even within the same resort. Wherein a base area might receive only two inches of snow, the upper portions of the mountain can often times receive dramatically more snow. In addition, today most ski area websites feature live webcams and detailed weather data so guests can see for themselves what the conditions are on the ground."

I think what the WSJ was referring to was the "packed powder, 24-48" of base" when there’s really an average of 14" across slopes and some bare spots.

NUMBER THREE WAS – “Climate change could run us into the ground.” We’ll give the NSAA an "A" on this answer. Go read it for yourself. I thought the funniest, left wing comment made by the WSJ on this point was, "…And since all signs suggest that climate change isn’t going away anytime soon, ski slopes have responded by heavily bolstering their snowmaking equipment— meaning a huge increase in expenses."

First, hasn’t the climate changed every year since CREATION??? Second, I think that every ski area would tell you that it’s a lot more expensive running those OLD SCHOOL water and air guns with the compressors, etc than it is to purchase the newer technology that only needs WATER! Where did WSJ get this stuff?

NUMBER FOUR is that ski resorts won’t tell you that "Only suckers pay full price.” Go read that one for yourself. The NSAA didn’t even address that bit of misinformation as far as I could tell. However I happen to know that all the ski areas I know actually SPEND MONEY in an attempt to TELL people that there are discounts so that you don’t have to pay full price. So to imply that ski resorts don’t want you to know that there are reduced ways to ski is simply bogus.

NUMBER FIVE is one that I am CERTAIN ruffled a few feathers. The WSJ reported that ski resorts won’t tell you that "Our instructors need lessons themselves.”

I can see Len Bauer at Sugar really ticked about this one! The NSAA responded, "…according to Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) and the American Association of Snowboard Instructors (AASI), 94 percent of its 29,745 members have earned their Level I, II, or III certification. Like any job, employers provide training for their staff. PSIA-AASI encourages, supports, and supplements that process for ski and snowboard instructors."

Kind of a bland answer but true enough. Just for the WSJ’s information – every ski area has plenty of high schoolers and younger ski instructors who are first year staffers that are certainly providing lessons to newbies. That is a given. However, THEY are most often being monitored and assisted by people who are trained and good at what they do. The MAJORITY of ski and snowboarding instruction is provided by staffer who have earned certification to do so.

Are all instructors great skiers or snowboarders? Nope. Are there ANY golf instructors as good at the game of golf as Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson? Nope.

Most of the people taking a ski or snowboarding lesson are complete newbies. Those providing instruction are decent to great skiers or snowboarders themselves.

NUMBER SIX states that ski resorts don’t want to tell you that, "We’re blowing snow – and a lot of hot air".

I guess they are implying that ski areas are lying about being able to create good snow conditions with manmade snow. WHHHHAAAATTTT!?!?! You can read WSJ’s points on that bogus bit of content, but I can tell you that I’ve skied some AWESOME and I mean AWESOME conditions on manmade snow. In fact, I know THOUSANDS of people who PREFER to ski on manmade snow and groomed conditions than on a foot of God’s own powder.

NUMBER SEVEN GETS TOUCHY. WSJ writes, "Skiing is getting more dangerous all the time" and then adds that ski resorts shoulder some of the blame."

Let’s see if I have this right. Strapping on one or two slick sticks on your feet, then PURPOSELY waxing them up to make them slicker and then purposely pointing them down a steep mountain is somehow more dangerous today than it was twenty years ago?

Huh? The very act of doing so has always been dangerous and always will be. You could put Nascar soft wall padding down both sides of every slope and people will still get hurt or worse every year.

The WSJ adds, "Part of the problem is that many resorts have made a push toward grooming their trails, or removing piles of powdery snow to make the runs smoother and sleeker; that makes for more action-packed skiing, but also can increase the chances for knee injuries."

Did a skier write this article? I don’t think so. There’s a FAR greater chance getting hurt on ungroomed snow with piles of moguls on a hill…than one that is groomed. Give me a break! (Okay that wasn’t a great choice of words.)

NUMBER EIGHT is, "Beware of Scenic Trails". The title of this point is bogus because isn’t that what we go to the mountains for? So ski resorts won’t tell you to ""Beware of Scenic Trails"?

When I go skiing, I want some scenery. They elaborate with some decent points about more ski areas providing glade runs (through the woods) and that impacts with trees can hurt you. However I’m not sure that ski resorts don’t want to tell you that! That IS the title of their article. "10 Things that Ski Resorts DON’T WANT to tell you."

So if I’m reading this correctly – ski resorts don’t want you to know that you could get hurt if you ski into a tree on a glade run. Bogus I tell you. Actually ski resorts are constantly getting after skiers and snowboarders who poach snow off trail and into the woods. They also post signage warning skiers and snowboarders of inherrent dangers of skiing glade trails.

NUMBER NINE GETS TOUCHY AGAIN. WSJ writes, "“So sue us—you’ll never collect.”

So again, ski resorts DON’T WANT WANT TO TELL YOU THAT YOU CAN’T SUE THEM…or that if you do you won’t collect. You can read WSJ’s comments but I can tell you that ski resorts go to great extremes to make their terrain as safe as possible. (Okay in most cases, most ski resorts do.) I’m not going to spend much time on this one except to say that unless you can prove that a ski area should have wrapped a boulder that is fifty feet off trail because they should have assumed that you were going to attempt to do six back flips, catch an edge and fall so far off trail that you’re on someone else’s property – then you’d probably not have a case. Skiing and snowboarding is a participant controlled activity. It is up to YOU to participate within control and within your ability level. If you do otherwise I think ski resorts should be able to sue you for stupidity and for bloodying up their perfectly good snow!

Did Nancy Pelosi have any influence of WSJ’s story?

NUMBER TEN was the best one in my opinion. LOVED IT! They wrote, "Welcome to Rocky Mountain high". They elaborated that ski resorts won’t tell you that there’s probably some people out there on the slopes that are smoking pot! That’s right people. Ski resorts have it as one of their top ten priorities to make sure that you don’t find out that skiers and snowboarders are probably out there in mass burning some weed!

Have any of you ever watched any post event interviews during the Olympics or the X Games or any other extreme snow event. I can assure you that event handlers are not handing out pee bottles to those participants in the snowboarding comps. If they did they’d not have many contestants.

I remember reading a story about three years ago that covered the fact that the ENTIRE U.S. SNOWBOARD TEAM ADMITTED TO SMOKING WEED! Some people will no doubt email me about this point but first of all, marijuana is not widely considered to be a performance enhancing drug. The Olympic governing body has not banned the smoking of dope by Olympic athletes. And, while many of the world’s top athletes are routinely tested for performance enhancing drugs, specifically steroids, widespread pot use has never been an issue.

The US Spokesperson was quick to point out that the US Snowboard Team still took home gold and silver metals in all of the snowboarding events so the team is confident that their regular weed consumption is not a problem.

(I found the story online: Olympic Snowboard Team Admits to Smoking Weed

I just saw Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong on Fox News THIS MORNING. They were promoting a "Get it legalized comedy tour". Both obviously were representing millions of people who want the drug legalized for all consumption, but there are now 14 states that have legalized pot for "medical use". Among those are great skiing states of Colorado, Montana, California, Washington state and Vermont.

I remember a funny episode where Tommy Chong did a guest appearance on the television show "Nash Bridges" where Cheech Marin played Don Johnson’s police partner. They were busting Chong for smoking pot in public and Chong argued that he had a perscription to smoke it. Cheech said something like, "How did you get a perscription?" Chong responded, "The doc gave it to me for depression." Then he added, "I get depressed if I can’t smoke pot."

So WSJ is sharing this bombshell, shocker that there are stoners on the ski slopes. OMG! Okay, I’m not condoning people doing drugs of any kind while skiing or riding (or driving) but to suggest that ski areas don’t want you to know that is – AGAIN – bogus.

Do restaurants want you to know that people might be chowing down on their chips and dip a little too heavily because they’re stoned?

WSJ writes, "While most people consider hot chocolate the treat of choice while skiing, there are plenty of folks on the slopes who have other preferences—sometimes including marijuana."

First, I think I’ve had hot chocolate at a ski area MAYBE twice in all my years on the snow. My choice? Probably any variety of cold, strong BEER.

But can you B-E-L-I-E-V-E that the sport does everything it can to promote the adrenaline junkies of the world and that these young, sometimes wealthy people might want something other than hot chocolate???

Truth is all of those super-cool graphics would go to complete waste if everyone’s just doing HOT CHOCOLATE!  JUST KIDDING MOM!!!

To answer anyone’s questions out there: No I do not smoke pot.

In closing, I’m not sure a WSJ editor even had a look at this story before allowing it to go to print. It was a stupid article, poorly written, and had invalid comments throughout. It’s worth a read though if you like train wrecks in print.

That’s it for today. Check out the Snow Report at http://www.skisoutheast.com/skireports.php and please send us your favorite ski photos, ski videos, trip reports and comments to [email protected]  

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