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by Joe Stevens

Hello Everyone –

It has been fun this week keeping up with all of the announced resort openings that occurred, and also reading about how the resorts that are already providing skiing and snowboarding are expanding open terrain.

One thing I am seeing more of this year than in years past is that resorts are opening with quality conditions and not just being open for the sake of saying they are open. I believe that is important for momentum to start brewing in the marketplace.

In years past there was always the race to be first, this year was no different in that regard, but the available terrain was on the positive side of things.

With just about every resort open for the season (thinking cold for you Oglebay), everything can now be ramped up at all of the resorts for the holiday season that is upon us. The week before Christmas, Christmas week and the week after Christmas week in some cases makes up 35 to 40 percent of the season’s budget for the resorts.

This is also the time of year when a number of resorts will see an influx of international visitors to the resorts. Resorts in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia will see the uptick from the international sector mostly from the Washington, DC area, as the various embassies shut down for the holidays and many head west for some sliding on snow.

Then there are the folks heading north from all points south to enjoy some holiday fun on the slopes. During my years working at Snowshoe, I always thought it was cool to see a vehicle heading up the mountain with skis, snowboards and a Christmas tree on top. Made me smile every time, knowing we were able to provide the family some memories.

Speaking of folks, especially the ones from the south, headed to the southeast region mountains and seeing snow for the first time. This is a memory that is implanted in my memory bank for me to pull out every year. There was and still is nothing better than seeing the expression on the faces of young ones, seeing the white stuff for the first time.

Most of the time there is no sign of snow on a family’s trip to any of the resorts in the region until they finally arrive at their destination. Even then, there may not be any sight of snow until they get out of their vehicles and walk to the edge of the slopes and there in front of the first timers in the sight of snow. Not the artificial stuff you spray out of a can, but the stuff you can slide on, make snowballs or even their first snowman. What memories, that’s for sure.1

Right here and now I have to say hats off to every mountain operations team out there, I know the challenges you have been handed so far this season and you folks have hit it out of the park. To have this much terrain open with the weather curveballs that have been tossed your way, well, again, way to go folks, you never cease to amaze me on what you can accomplish. I also know that with the pending cold conditions (and natural snow) the guns will be going full force and more terrain will be opening on a daily basis.

Here’s a quick toss out to the groomers too. I saw a video produced by Winterplace Resort about the groomers moving mountains and that was quite appropriate as all of the groomers are moving mountains of snow at this time.

It’s such a team effort between the snowmakers and groomers this time of year. It’s just fun to watch, that’s for sure.

This time is also a time when Santa Claus brings some new equipment and places it under the tree for future turns. Our family fell in line with that notion this year as our kid has finally reached time a time when, having their own equipment was the right thing to do. Through the assistance of the good folks at The Ski Barn, as our kid has grown, so has the equipment that was provided. Now that is changing since growth spurts should be done.

Getting one’s first full set of equipment is a big deal and we went to the folks at Ski Loft in Barboursville, West Virginia to turn the trick. You see this wasn’t going to happen by ordering online, no way, getting fitted for the correct equipment is an art that can only be found at a locally owned and operated ski shop. This is not something you can just walk into a store and pick off the shelf, at least I can’t.

At Ski Loft, it’s a team effort, Ron (the dad) takes care of fitting you with the correct boot, because it all starts there and then you work your way up. Ron made sure our kid was fitted correctly, taking 45 minutes to make sure the boot fit was correct.

Then Tony (the son) takes care of choosing the correct ski. He feels out the skier to figure out the type of skier they are, providing suggestions along the way, before narrowing it down to the correct board that will be used for fun on the slopes.

I have written a number of times about the value of having a true local ski shop and the experience we had last week was a perfect example of how the whole process should take place. With that said, please if you are making that equipment purchase do yourself a favor and go to your local ski shop and you will not come away with a bad taste in mouth. If this is your first trip to the shop, it won’t be your last, I promise.

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. Your favorite slope is now open, so go make some turns.


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