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by Joe Stevens

Hello Everyone –

Sometimes a fighter just goes back to his or her corner, looks at their trainer and says, “enough is enough.” That’s basically what every general manager and operations director at most of the resorts in the region are saying at this point of the 2023-2024 season.

You see there comes a time at a ski resort that when temperatures hit the upper 60s and low 70s this time of the year and there are only a handful of skiers and snowboarders riding the chairs, it’s time to pull the ropes across the slopes and get ready for the next season.

You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to realize we are at that point of the 2023-2024 season. With the mixture of warmer than normal temperatures, on top of persistent “underdeveloped snow,” the condition of the slopes and trails in the region have deteriorated to a point of no return.

At this point I need to curtail my negative but honest thoughts by saying hats off to the snowmakers of Snowshoe Mountain for cranking up the snow guns for probably the final time this season during the early part of last week. To top it off about a half a foot of snow fell in the higher elevations of the mountain state, doing a nice job of covering up the bare spots at both Snowshoe and Timberline Mountain.

Thanks for the tease, mom.

Back to the point at hand, it’s just time to stop fighting it and understand that after this weekend, there is only going to be a handful of trails open in the region for skiing and snowboarding.

I suggest if you are still wanting to make some turns, you check out the snow report page on this website and make sure to look for yourself at the conditions of the trails at the resorts that are still operating by going to the resort’s webcams. That can also be found on this website.

Other than the official announcement of closing for the season, another sure fire way to understand that the end of the season is here is all the early bird season pass sales that are out there for everyone to take advantage of this time of the year.

Seriously, if you do some comparable shopping and you are planning to make enough trips to your favorite southeast resort, this is the time to gobble up a season pass for the 2024-2025 ski season.

Wow, am I already talking about next season already? Just another clear indication that the plug is being pulled on the current season.

My last runs of the season came it looks like a couple of weeks ago during the last trip to Winterplace Ski Resort with the Nitro High School Ski Club. Let me just say, it was fun watching a group of new skiers and snowboarders have fun on the snow in the winter. We had 35 students take advantage of the opportunity this year, up from 25 last year, and we expect that number to grow by word of mouth. It’s one of the better ways to grow the sport.

The other day I was reflecting on the season with one of my skiing partners and realized that the air vents on my pants were never closed this season. That means every time I was out there snowboarding the temperature was in the upper 30s to the low 40s or even higher. I also remember removing my helmet just about every time I rode a lift to the top of the mountain. I can easily say that has never been the case in the 39 seasons I have been having fun in snow during the winter.

Without a doubt, spring skiing and snowboarding conditions came way, way too early this season and that brings me to my next point for this week’s get together with you.

Again this season, the snowmakers in the southeast showed why they are the best in the business. This season more than any other I think, they took advantage of every second of snowmaking opportunities.

When those limited opportunities came about, they didn’t just make snow to cover the slopes that were open, but also make enough snow to open additional terrain for everyone to enjoy.

On top of that the snowmakers didn’t quit when the slopes had enough snow to open the terrain but piled it on even thicker so that it would last longer. Then there were the piles of snow everyone would look at and wonder why a huge pile of snow was placed in various parts of the terrain. Well, I am here to say that snow is probably what kept a lot of resorts open longer than mother nature allowed.

It’s that type of operational planning that goes on constantly at every ski resort in the region that makes me proud to be part of the industry. Without the daily planning, looking many times a week in advance, is what allows resorts to provide a product on the slopes when Mouther Nature is throwing those inside curve balls. Sometimes you get knocked down and it’s the good ones who get back up, brush themselves off and get right back at it again. That my friend is the description and snowmaker and groomer in the southeast.

Circling back around to the beginning of this week’s column once again, this last punch from Mother Nature wasn’t a knockout blow, but for the most part with folks already cutting grass in their backyards, there’s just really no reason to spin the lifts anymore and it is again time to get ready for next season with wide open hopes of a normal cold winter.

Next week I will be wrapping up my 19th season writing Snow News Is Good News with my annual Snowies winners.

That’s it for this week. Just remember whether it be cold or whether it be warm, we’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather will be. Make sure to go and try to make your last turns of the season and let gravity be your friend.



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