First Trax

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This past weekend I opened my "skiMail" email addy for the first time in about two months and it took me most of a full day to cull the good from the junk mail.  I typically have so much going on during a normal summer that I don’t get around to doing this task until about the time the first snow guns crank up. However, this "off-season" is a bit different for a number of reasons, but chief among those is the fact that for the first time in several seasons we will be cranking out a new and website.  We have modeled it after some successful "other-tourism" websites that we own and promote.  The idea is to provide even more information than ever before, and work proactively to speak with and report from every ski area in the region.

Over the past thirteen seasons we have kind of allowed the news to "come to us" and unfortunately every ski area is not staffed well enough to keep an equal flow of information going out to any media outlets, much less us.  So we have assembled a paid staff that will be helping to "interview" and report on all of the goings on within the southeast and mid-Atlantic ski and snowboarding industry.

Additionally, we are reinstating the old "on-snow reporting" network and we will be looking for fans of each and every ski area in the region to join our team in an effort to provide the best and most up-to-date information as far as what the conditions are like on a daily or at least every couple of days basis.  We’ll be assigning username and password login access to these reporters such that they can post content directly to the site.  Therefore we’re looking for people who love the snow, love the resort or resorts that they’ll be reporting on and wish to be a part of the best ski and snowboarding network east of the Mississippi and perhaps the entire country.  These will be volunteer positions but we will be bringing a lot of attention to you and we’ll be rewarding the best reporters with some free skiing, lodging and perhaps more. Additionally, the best of the best will be invited to become a PAID part of our team so if you’re interested drop us an email at [email protected].  Ideally we’d love to have two-to-three reporters per ski area.


It was cloudy enough to almost qualify as a foggy morning this morning (August 24th) but according to our official "fog station" at The Mast General Store today did not qualify as yet another foggy morning in August.  It seems that Allen Mast and his Mast Store crew are a bit more experienced in identifying fogs and he shared the fact that as of this morning, "Mike we’ve now seen 17 foggy mornings so far in August and as you know, we’ve been very accurate with this thing over the years."

For those new to the site, the Mast Store crew drops a jelly bean in a jar for each August morning that is cloaked in fog.  During the subsequent winter, they pull one out of the jar every time we get a measurable snowfall. According to Allen and his people, they have been remarkably accurate over the last several years, typically being either 100% dead on, or within one or two snowfalls each season.  Thus far with one week still left in the month we are at 17 snowstorms and counting.  Seventeen snowfalls would put us in nearly a one snowfall a week range.  With another week left, I’m betting we’ll see another couple of foggy mornings and that bodes well for the snow lovers out there – including yours truly.


Now that I’ve addressed the fog update, I want to bring up more exciting plans for the upcoming season.  The temps this summer have been unusually cooler than normal and somewhat wetter than normal and according to some weather gurus that could be a sign of a wetter than normal and cooler than normal winter ahead.  We’ll save that 2009-2010 Winter Forecast for a little bit until we get input from all of our weather contacts.  The thermometer is still displaying some pretty warm temps off the mountain and we’re in for a little bit of a "heat wave" in the mountains later in the week with highs expected in the 79° range around Banner Elk and perhaps as high as 76° at Snowshoe.  That’s okay as far as I’m concerned because we’re spending a bunch of time at Watauga Lake but only SIX WEEKS from now we’ll be seeing quite a bit of Autumn color kicking in.  We’re only 6-8 weeks from peak fall color season and just 9-12 weeks away from the first snow guns firing up at one or two of our more proactive or aggressive ski areas.

That said, there’s been A LOT happening during this off season and if my INBOX and phone conversations are any indication, we’re in for one great and very busy ski and snowboarding season ahead. Normally I don’t start hearing from ski area peeps until around September and for some it is later than that.  However, my INBOX has been humming lately and I’ve already had calls from numerous ski area management types about working with them on some new and unique promotional ideas.

We’ve received double the number of contacts about advertising placement and that is VERY COOL. It’s nice being recognized as a valuable resource for "getting the word out" to you guys. We’re ALREADY nearly sold out for our premium advertising banners and this is the earliest that we’ve ever seen that happen.  All without making one call. I LOVE THIS COUNTRY!


Although we’re widely recognized as the best and most trafficked ski website for the region, I must admit that I’ve also done the worst job of posting photos, trip reports and contests/giveaways over the last three seasons.  There simply was never enough time to get to everything we needed to post and work my "real job".  That said, we’re not waiting until November to get things going this season!

Three months ago I tasked my talented design and SEO team to create a new / presence with an all new look, layout, content and interactive management.  We’ve incorporated so many new bits of functionality that it would take an entire story to cover.  So I’ll save that story for later, but suffice to say that the new site is going to be KILLER! We have trip planners and all sorts of new content coming online that we feel that you guys will agree that we’ve made the best, better!

So here I am in August thanking myself for assigning my design team the task of creating a new and improved web presence. I must admit it’s hard to improve on being the best, but we’re going to try! For those of you who take us WAYYYYY too seriously (and for the two or three haters out there, most of who’s last name rhymes with "local") get over yourself. Life’s too short to worry about little old us 🙂   – more about some funny goings on this summer, later!


We hope to debut the new site by October 1st. Over the past few years we simply got caught with our ski bibs down and before we knew it, it was November 15th or so and snow guns were blasting away.  That won’t happen this year as our company has expanded and taken on a whole department of people whose sole job is to make me look good! (No funny remarks out there!)

They are already completing a new design look and we’re adding in trip planners, better weather meshing of data and we’ll have some real fun this season.

14th Season Will Be The Best!

What also doesn’t seem possible is the fact that this will be our FOURTEENTH SEASON providing snow reporting and what’s happening for the ski resorts from Wisp Resort in Maryland, all the way to Sapphire Valley, the southernmost ski hill in North Carolina. With each passing year we’ve experienced more and more off season contact and this particular summer has been the busiest yet. Whether it is this ridiculously stupid economy that we’re in the midst of or the fact that more resorts and businesses are becoming more aware of the "draw" we have on this website – the fact is we’ve had more than a few new advertisers requesting to come on board. We’re obviously loving it.

The messageboard has stayed pretty steady this summer with normally around 40 people posting messages and threads at any given time all day, every day.  That is NUTS!

We’ve never seen as much unique and first time visitor traffic as we’ve seen this off-season.  An example of that was when in July we saw more than 80,000 unique visitors and more than 750,000 page views – IN J-U-L-Y!  On a SKI WEBSITE! JULY! Nearly a THIRD of those visitors came in on the messageboard, but two-thirds hit our front page and articles first.

Another eight to ten thousand visitors a day are visiting and we’re picking up about 8000 first time visitors per month on that site!

The bottom line is that we’ve been performing with these kind of numbers with "one hand tied behind our backs".  We now have a staff of six paid employees who are assisting with content and design concepts and we’re looking forward to our best season ever!

So stay tuned as we’ll add new stories even this week and look for the new site to debut in early, early October!

Until next time…

Send your comments to: mailto:[email protected]?subject=Story%20about%20Fogs

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We’re not usually into faded, gloomy looking photos, but we’re counting foggy mornings in August and as of August 26th we’re up to NINETEEN and counti
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