First Trax

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Check the slope report page for details on which resorts are open and what trails, etc. Also Joe Stevens posted his weekly update this morning under the "Joe Knows Snow" column. Joe also extends a season’s greeting on the featured video on the front page of this morning. Check out that video and he also hints at the subject of his story today.

Speaking of videos – we’re getting a lot of feedback on this season’s posts and several have asked us "where the videos go" when we post the newest ones. Just click the "ski videos" link right under the featured video and you’ll see all that we’ve posted thus far this season. Here’s the link> Southeast Ski Videos 


I was at Snowshoe Mountain this past weekend, then I dropped by Winterplace on Sunday and I can tell you that the conditions are great at both resorts. I’ve skied at Sugar Mountain three times this season and conditions have been great. I stopped in at Ski Beech last week and I can assure you that the conditions are GREAT there.

I have received a record number of inquiries from visitors to the websites that are all asking about how good the conditions are at "XYZ Resort". Others have read our posts about this being "the best start ever" and wanted to get verification of that.

As a rule, management within the ski industry really don’t keep the kind of detailed figures that provide the kind of data that we’d need to be able to accurately state that this or any other season was the BEST start, etc. I have had numerous conversations with marketing and management at various resorts so far this season and I can tell you a couple of things:

1. They are ALL SMILING from ear to ear!

2. They are ALL in great moods, despite the economy, etc.

3. …and they could care less if this is the "best ever" start, etc.

A few people have written us to state, with certainty, that 19xx provided "xxx inches" of snow and that this year beats that great start, etc. Truthfully I don’t think anyone has that precise data and if they do they haven’t shared it with me. What I can tell you is that I personally don’t think that I have seen the kind of start that I have been witnessing around here in my time covering the resorts of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic. We’ve had some great starts, but it is my estimation that AS A WHOLE, this is the best start to a ski season in recent memory. However, it is also very possible that Snowshoe, or Wisp or XYZ resort might have had an inch or two more snow by a previous December 8th than we’ve had this season. I can also tell you that NOT ALL of the ski areas within the region are experiencing the same kind of incredible start…at least as it pertains to natural snow. For example, I am certain that there have been MANY previous seasons where Bryce Resort in Virginia had way more than the 3" of natural snow that they’ve had thus far during this campaign. Same for most of the Virginia resorts, where natural snow has been pretty scarce this AND last season. Massanutten Resort has only seen enough dustings to call it "an inch" of snow on the season thus far.

Wisp Resort in Western Maryland has seen 37" so far this season and they are ahead of "the normal" pace wherein they get 100" a season. However, maybe – just maybe – they’ve had more snow in previous seasons to date.

As I wrote over this past weekend, I was at Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia and I was there for ONE FOOT of the SIXTEEN INCHES of snow that they ended up getting from Saturday at around 3pm until it stopped on Sunday! They are now at 85" on the season!  Record to this date? Who cares! EIGHTY FIVE INCHES is great, no matter if it’s the most ever or not!

However, it should be noted that along with this GREAT start as it pertains to natural snow, we have also had VERY CONSISTENT cold temps. So much so that one of the Charlotte, NC television stations reported that last week there was only one day where the high temp for the seven day period was not below normal. Another resource reported that November was the NINTH COLDEST November in history (or at least as long as they’ve been keeping that kind of data (100 years or so)).

December is off to the same kind of start.

So what if it IS or ISN’T "the best start on record". IT IS the best start in a long time and the main point to be made is – WE ARE HAVING SOME AMAZINGLY GREAT WEATHER and the ski resorts look phenomenal. Woohoo!

So until some weather guru does the homework and passes on a volumnous report comparing conditions and weather from this year to the past – let’s just leave it as – DAMN IT LOOKS GREAT OUT THERE ON THE SLOPES!!!!

Here are some noteworthy items for today!

Ober Gatlinburg – They open for the first time this season. Somehow I missed the announcement on Saturday but they are open this week from noon until 10pm daily with 5 trails and the upper half of Bear Run! It’s great to see the Smoky Mountain ski area open as they had "slim pickin’s" last season. They report no new natural snow but they are making snow at every opportunity!

Wisp – 17° – They picked up 5" of snow from the Sat/Sunday storm and are open with awesome conditions on 13 trails for day skiing and snowboarding until 5pm today. They also have their terrain park open. The Mountain Coaster and Tubing Park are closed for Monday.

Canaan Valley – 16° – They received 5" of new snow and are now at 63.4" of snow on the season. Canaan opens for the season this Friday. Lisa Ratliffe writes, "We’re very excited to announce the official opening date of Friday, December 12th for the 37th winter season. Skiers can enjoy awesome snow conditions to the top of the mountain (that’ right – we said the top), along with many natural snow trails, the beginner area, and the tube park. To kick off the season – we will host a “FREE” Powder Day on Dec 11th from 12pm – 4:30pm. All guests will receive a free lift ticket for the session time."

You heard it here…go ski free!

Timberline Resort is also at 16° this AM and they too received 5" of new snow and they are opening two additional trails for Monday. That makes 8 trails open for day skiing only today.

Snowshoe Mountain – 10° – They received 16" of snow from the storm and due to the windy conditions early, there was easily numerous trails with nearly a foot of very light powder to hit on Sunday. They are offering 30 trails for skiing and snowboarding for Monday.  I was there for about ONE FOOT of that snow and it was bombing the mountain as I was leaving at 11am!  UNREAL!!! 16" on Saturday/Sunday and 85" on the season.

Winterplace Resort – They are suspending ski and snowboarding ops (early season scheduling) and will reopen on Saturday. We were up there on Sunday and they picked up 4" of new snow as well. Even more impressive was the fact that they were BOMBING the trails over and above The Mountain House with manmade snow and they should be in awesome shape with more trails open as well.

Massanutten is the only Virginia ski area operating today. They are day skiing on 6 trails and they have 6 lanes of tubing open for today as well. They reported no natural snow this weekend.

Wintergreen Resort is making snow this morning. They only saw about an inch of natural snow but they are suspending ops this week and will reopen later in the week. This is from Anne Marie at Wintergreen, "It is 20 degrees at 7am and yes, we continue to make a bunch of snow! Conditions are the best we have seen in years and we are taking advantage of this cold weather. We are trying to bury everything we can! We will remain closed the early part of this week, re-opening for skiing and riding Friday morning at 9am. We plan to open Upper Tyro, Tequila, Upper Sunrise and Lower Sunrise on Friday. On Saturday, we will add Upper Cliffhanger, Hydraulic, Lower Wild Turkey and Potato Patch to our list of open trails. This weekends open trail and lift count should jump to 13 trails and 4 lifts. The Plunge will re-open for tubing sessions starting on Friday from 4PM – 11pm."

Bryce Resort is closed this week and will reopen Friday.

Tammy Brown, the Communications Director at Cataloochee passed on this nice "Thank You" for the success of their Food and Coat Drive held Sunday. She writes, "All of the staff here at Cataloochee wishes to send out a big THANK YOU to the over 2000 folks who participated in our Can-U-Ski Food and Coat Drive today what a record turnout! And what a wonderful sight to see the over 25,000 cans of food and over 300 coats that have been donated to the special families in Haywood County here today. All donations will be delivered to Haywood Christian ministries to help ensure a blessed holiday for all! Thank you, thank you from our family to yours this holiday season!"


Cat will be open for day and night skiing on Monday with groomed conditions. They made snow Sunday and will have 9 trails open today and tonight.

Ski Beech is open for DAY SKIING ONLY on Monday and that will be the case this week through Thursday. They will reopen for day and night sessions on Friday. They operate with 5 trails for today.

Sugar Mountain is still making snow this morning but that we stop as temps warm a bit later this morning. Sugar keeps on giving visitors more open terrain as they are now offering 12 trails for day and night sessions and ice skating is open til 4pm.

Sugarfest kick starts the winter season with a weekend of pure winter fun! Sponsored by the Village of Sugar Mountain Tourism Development Authority (TDA) and hosted by Sugar Mountain Resort, SugarFest will be held December 13th and 14th, 2008. The two-day festival is packed with a long list of winter activities. It coincides with Sugar’s 15th Annual Adult Preseason Ski Clinic where 1994 Olympic Gold & 1992 Olympic Silver medalist Diann Roffe and two-time (1992 & 1994) Olympian, Krista Schmidinger will both be special guest coaches.

Appalachian Ski Mountain is open for day and night skiing and 100% open with both terrain parks and their ice rink.

Wolf Ridge Ski Resort is closed Monday through Thursday and will reopen on Friday.

We have a lot of trip reports to give our attention today more news will be coming forth today and Tuesday. We’ll also post ALL OF OUR CONTEST GIVEAWAYS THIS WEEK and give away the first winner sometime on Tuesday!

Send your own pics, videos and trip reports to [email protected]


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