First Trax

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Friday is here and that means only 8 hours stand between me and the weekend, and that means I am a very happy camper! It’s been a long week, and the weather has been bizarre – to say the least. To sum it all up, we went in to the week amidst predictions of the "snow of the season" and we came out of it with a sloppy wet mess and a few inches of very wet powder here in North Carolina. And this strange week of weather continues this weekend as we slide in to VERY warm temperatures. I always struggle with whether to use the word "warm" or "mild" because in the grander scheme of things the temperatures we’ll see this weekend are really neither "warm" or "mild." But, I guess all things are truly relative. So, relative to the temperatures we have seen some days this season that barely got out of the single digits, mid-30’s temperatures will feel quite warm and mild. It might just be down right hot underneath all those layers!

Thanks to our weather homeboy Brad Panovich for sending another weather forecast for this weekend. It’s a GOOD one too. Friday and into Saturday will bring a clipper system to the NC mountains and we may see 1-2 inches of snow to lay down a very nice top coat on the already great snow out there. Temperatures at North Carolina ski areas could get up into the mid to upper-30’s! With the cold weather we’ve seen early this week, several inches of Mother Nature’s bounty, and snowmaking ops fired up at some resorts, this weekend couldn’t be more perfect! Did someone say Bluebird? If they didn’t they sure will be all weekend. So have fun out there, it’s going to be…perfect.

LID OR NO LID? That is the question…

I’ve been skiing my whole life off and on, and I have never worn a helmet. When I was very young I don’t remember a single person wearing a helmet. Last weekend at the SkiNC Beech Summit, however, I saw countless people wearing them. Which leads me to ask the question….helmet or no helmet? In the last several years we’ve seen celebrities like Sonny Bono and Natasha Richardson die following head injuries from ski accidents and the debate has grown more prominent. My boyfriend is a snowboarder and he took a spill on Saturday at the Summit and landed on his neck and head. He’s an experienced boarder and simply caught an edge, so what looked like a harmless spill turned into a slightly bloodied lip and a very sore neck…and a very shaken up snowboarder.

This event has led me to seriously consider wearing a helmet. It seems like everyone is doing it now. I was under the impression that only serious skiers and snowboarders participating in competitive events were wearing them. I will be the first to admit that I am very wrong. Many of the skiers and snowboarders in the SkiNC/SkiSoutheast family wear them, as do beginners and experts alike. Let’s be honest, people wear helmets for just about everything else, so why not when you’re skiing and riding? I wear a helmet when I’m riding a bike, I wear a helmet if I’m racing go carts, I’d wear a helmet on a zip-line or if I was playing football (for the record I don’t play football, but you catch my drift). All this being said, it seems almost stupid that I don’t wear a helmet to ski.

I am marching to the beat of a different drum now and I am in the market for a helmet, and I will be the proud owner of a "LID" by the time we hit Snowshoe for the SkiSoutheast Summit. Ski areas across the country are following the trends and tons of ski areas offer RENTAL HELMETS which I think is awesome. For first time skiers and snowboarders it’s a great safety option, and having the rentals available makes it affordable and accessible to anyone – For Example Appalachian offers helmets for only $6/day, Sugar offers daily helmet rentals for only $10, and Wolf Ridge offers a daily rental for $15. The cost is minimal when it comes to safety. Plus, I’ve seen some really cool designs out there and some pretty fun colors, too!

So what about you guys and gals out there in Ski-land? Do you wear them? Do you like them? I’m taking suggestions on what kind to buy, so let me know what you think! Email me directly at [email protected]! I would LOVE some input from the helmet-wearers of the world.

And now let’s have a look around…

Appalachian Ski Mountain – 100% open! Snowmaking resumed last night for the first time since January 21st so conditions are going to be awesome this morning!

Beech Mountain – 100% open today and snowmaking is in progress!

Cataloochee – 100% open and Tammy Brown says, "the snow is amazing…absolutely AMAZING!"

Sapphire Valley – 100% open!

Sugar Mountain – 100% open!!

Wolf Ridge – This morning they will start out with 16 slopes open, but that number will jump to 20 at 4:30 as the Upper Lodge and trails will be open for night skiing and through the weekend. TOMORROW is the GRAND OPENING of the TERRAIN PARK at the Wolf as well!!

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend and enjoy the WONDERFUL weather!!

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