First Trax

First of all..IT IS SNOWING RIGHT NOW the AM and we already have a nice coating of snow on my truck. The temperature here at my office is 16° and we DO have some light snow in the forecast. While on the subject of forecasts, if you guys have been paying attention for the last few days, our newest partner, Brad Panovich has NAILED these forecasts over the last few days. We are fine tuning some new weather "offerings" and will try to get those in place within a week or so. Suffice to say that once we have it all in place…NOBODY in the region will be able to offer you the LIVE actual temps at the ski areas, AND forecasts from a licensed meteorologist that you can depend on.

After Brad Panovich posted his updates yesterday a couple of local practitioners changed their thinking to agree with Brad’s forecast for this little burst of snow today and this weekend. We also have Austin Beeghly coming on board with ski forecasts to compliment our reporting. Once we have all that in place you will have no reason to go anywhere else for all of the information you need to plan your trip. I know it’s hard to believe but we’re going to get EVEN better with our information. More to come soon.

Conditions around the region – Before I say anything remotely negative, let me preface my remarks by saying that conditions at ALL OF THE RESORTS have not been better all season long. If you hit your favorite resort today or anytime in the next several days you will have a phenomenal time. The snowmaking crews at ALL resorts have bombed the slopes and add in a little snow and the conditions will be near NORMAL mid-season shape anywhere that you go now. So get out and have a great day on the trails!

Now that I’ve made that hopefully crystal clear, I HAVE to bring up an issue that has been bothering the heck out of me since watching base depths rise and fall this season. I’ve already written about it a few times (check the archives) and we have received THOUSANDS of emails from you guys stating your agreement and support of our efforts to get all resorts to report accurately what they are offering in terms of snow coverage, surface conditions and base depths. I can tell you that in our nine seasons of reporting we have seen proof that we have influenced resorts across the region in many positive ways. We have MANY THOUSANDS of emails detailing HOW so…but that is for another day.

During the "cold drought" of early January we received hundreds, if not thousands, of emails from many of you who had skied at your favorite resort and then emailed US…asking why XYZ Resort was reporting 12-25" of base depths when there were in some cases MORE bare areas than snow covered areas. First, you can’t ski on dirt so resorts don’t figure those into the equation. However, let’s face it…SOME resorts are NOT reporting their AVERAGE base depths across all slopes open. SOME reports are inflating their figures, while others are not. The ones that ARE are inappropriately influencing novices and first time visitors to ski where THEY THINK there is more snow or FIVE FEET of it.

Base depths are MEANT to be reported as the minimum and maximum depths across all open terrain. I am not going to name names today, but several resort operators and marketing people have told me personally that daily measurements are not taken and that "ALL RESORTS take liberties" with reporting base depths. I’d like to see that change and from the numerous emails that I receive…so would those of us that are spending our money with the resorts of the Southeast.

I have been documenting the growth of base depths for the last week and what some resorts are posting are just not true figures. While I’d love to name names right here like NO BULL SKI REPORTS out west does…it is not my intentions to make individual resorts look bad. If it gets to the point that we feel so moved to do that…we will. However, what we are MORE interested in is seeing ALL resorts report the same way. If they all want to agree to just look out a window and guess…so be it. If they all want to agree to take measurements only on their main trail…let’s do that. However SOME are measuring at ONE premium spot, SOME are estimating depths across all slopes based on their EXPERIENCE, SOME are not measuring at all and are only ESTIMATING depths based on some rough estimates by a snowmaker or two, and SOME are having a ski patroller or two provide periodic estimates…and SOME are measuring.

For years now I have been in conversations with one resort staffer or another and have listened to them call "BS" on what another is reporting. Some have outright used the "liars" word. Many have offered, "Oh that’s just ‘their’ way…" and as a reliable source of information for you guys WE just want to see EQUITABLE reporting…with whatever system that these guys can agree on. It never looks good to us to see 95% of the resorts reporting 4" or so of snowmaking increases in base depths and then see one or two reporting 40+" of growth over a couple of days. Personally I’ve never understood why other resort management wouldn’t OUTWARDLY call "BS" on one another. Maybe that WILL come about if enough people ask for it.

In this day when companies can claim things like "Tide gets clothes whiter…" when we all KNOW that you could probably use about any cleaner and get the same results…people just accept information and rarely challenge them.

In closing, if resorts were ACTUALLY ALL taking minimum and maximum depth measurements at a few locations on each trail and reporting that…then the 24 – 36" base depth type reporting would be perfect. However since they OBVIOUSLY are NOT…I think that it would be great if they would all do like WISP in Maryland does where they simply state ONE NUMBER like 32" as their AVERAGE base depth. Of course that won’t work either unless they actually take measurements…so we’re back to that.

If you are reading this article and AGREE with us…we’d like to hear from you. Send us an email and if you agree, let us know. If you think we’re making too much of something that isn’t important to you guys…let us know that too.

Feel free to write me at: [email protected]

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Snowshoe Resort is enjoying snow and beautiful conditions today – Photo by Snowshoe Resort.
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Rob Raff, of the Hawksnest Ski Patrol, sent us this nice shot up at Hawksnest from the 16th – Great conditions are being reported at The Hawk.
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