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On Snow

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SkiSoutheast reports from Wisp Resort:

We got in about noon on Friday and although it was mild it was literally ten degrees cooler (about 42 degrees) than it was just off the interstate some ten minutes away.  After checking in and getting our ski passes we headed out for a few turns.  I skied some of the newly expanded terrain first with my family.  Runs like Big and Little Dipper and Ridge Run were very cool particularly for novice skiers because they are long, glide runs with a gentle slope.  After spending some time there, I kicked over to Squirrel Cage and Eye Opener and although I’m not sure where the Squirrel Cage gets its name…it is a nice, wide, steep run.  Eye Opener is aptly named because it opens up to some sweet views of Deep Creek Lake and the surrounding village and commerce areas beyond.

The snow was very soft, but also impressively deep. High traffic areas were beginning to show but there were no bare spots to speak of on the trails themselves.

On Saturday (today) we got in several more turns.  This morning the snow was loose granular conditions and then it began to rain.  Rain was relatively hard at times and even with good equipment we got pretty soaked.  We took  a break at lunch, dried the wet clothing, gloves, etc and then after grabbing a bit to eat we hit the slopes again.  The temps had dropper considerably to just about snowmaking temps at 3pm.  Wisp is expecting to make snow tonight and as long as temps allow on Sunday.  That should help them provide a very nice surface on Sunday and for the next few days.

I toured the Snowmaking Pump house and it was something out of Ice Station Zebra. If you didn’t know better you’d swear you were on the set of Star Trek.  I will file a report about that in the next day or so.  Suffice for now to say that it was impressive.

Lorrie Tomlinson reports from Ski Beech:

Men’s Day attracted A LOT of visitors to Ski Beech on Thursday. The lift lines were incredibly long, especially at the quad. It seemed like President’s Day had already arrived somehow. At one time, I saw 9 snowboarders sitting in one spot… Nine – at least they were off to the side and not in the middle of a trail. All runs, but Oz, were open. Early in the day, the freshly groomed snow was pretty good. As the day progressed, skier traffic and warm temperatures had created many bare spots in the half pipe section of the Meadows terrain park. Grass was easily visible there. During the night session, there were icy areas offset by hard pack. Oh, I saw a guy in a SKINC sweatshirt. I have to get me one of those shirts!

Ed Werden of Knoxville reports from Ober Gatlinburg:

Went to Ober Gatlinburg for the first time this year on Thursday.  No crowd at all until the night session began.  Spring conditions with no coat required…or needed.  The snow was soft and thin, with bare spot showing in many places.  They had to close off one side of mogul ridge at the top due to thin spots.  I also experienced “changing conditions” going down all of the runs.  It caught me by surprise the first time and I nearly ate some snow!!  I was carving nicely at the top of Bear Run and midway down it was like someone slammed on the brakes….then I hit the accelerator again and took off like a shot!  WOW, what a rush!
I’ve been to Ober many times since I live in Knoxville.  If you have not been there, here is the good, the bad, and the ugly about the place.
THE GOOD – Mogul Ridge is one of the most challenging runs in the area although it is fairly short.  Another really nice feature about ober is the free tram ride.  While most ski areas have steep winding roads leading to the resort as the only way there, ober has a free tram (free with a lift ticket) that is located in the center of town.  They DO have that long winding road if you would like to drive up to the resort, but why would you want to?
THE BAD – They very rarely have all of their runs open.  They, like everyone else, are at the mercy of the weather in this region of the country.  I have been skiing there for years but I have only seen grizzly open once!  Alpine Way is not open very often either.  Alpine and Grizzly were not open at all last year, and have nothing but green grass on it this year.  Along with that, I must not understand the term “100% snowmaking capabilities”.  To me, it means that a resort is capable of making snow on all of its slopes at the same time!  That should be the definition if it’s not!!  It is obvious that ober cannot do this for whatever reason.
THE UGLY – Ober is always filled with beginners.  I’m sure that is because it is located near the two vacation towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge and vacationers “discover” a ski resort.  Most other places are ski destinations!  You can spot them…they are the ones wearing blue jeans sprawled out all over the snow.  Yard sales occur frequently!  Advanced skiers/boarders cannot escape them either as long as the bottom of Bear Run is closed (as it is now) because all of the slopes currently open merge into the cub way/ski school area.

David Long reports from Ober Gatlinburg:

What an amazing day. The weather was extremely warm at Ober with temps in the low to mid 60s. I had to open the ski shop at Ober this morning and the sunrise was truly a gift from God. What a great way to start the day. The beauty I saw this morning made the day almost perfect from the beginning.  The beautiful day held up all day long with great weather. The only thing that would have been better was if there was a ton of snow on every slope.
Today Ober was open on the same trails skiing on Mogul, Upper Bear, Castle, Cub, and Ski School. The conditions were very, very soft and slushy.  One word for Ober for the weekend: WAX.  On the snow around mid day during my break in the ski shop I quickly realized that I should have waxed before going out.

I would suggest to everyone to use a good warm wax for the next few days. The snow was very slow but nice.  It was on the slushy side but the coverage in the middle of the runs was pretty good.  By the end of the day, during the night session the snow was great.  Once the sun went down things began to firm up a little, but because of the warm air it didn’t become the typical hard pack that Ober is so use to.  Of course Mogul was more firm than the rest of the slopes.  Speaking of Mogul a very nice, natural, kicker has formed on the ridge on skier’s left.  The launch doesn’t look like much but the bottom quickly drops out from below you giving some decent hang time, but be cautioned because the landing is VERY steep!!!  Some of the locals were stoked pulling 7s off the hit. Any jump at Ober is a big deal and having a nice natural one form is a rare but very nice event. 

So Friday night was nice with great snow and a few items to play on.  Oh and FYI the offical rule for jumps at Ober is if you build one and are caught then you are kicked out, but if it is natural and SAFE then go for it.  So the bumps on Mogul are fair game as long as you can jump and land and you check the landing first. 

The snow coverage is starting to really get thin at the mountain.  The lifties are struggling to keep snow on the ramps so be prepared for carpet at the tops and bottom.  The sides of Mogul are closing in fast and a few holes are beginning to form at the top where the constant ski traffic has made some large bumps.  If the rain doesn’t finish off the slopes this weekend the next few days temps being high could endanger some slope closings making for a very crowded weekend on the 27-29th. 

Pray for snow or the forecasted colder temps to get here fast!  At any rate as of now the snow if fun and at night it is a good snow to ride on, not to hard, not to soft. 

Hope to see you up there.

Mark McKelvy Reports from Appalachian 1-18-06 night session

Since I skipped my regular "day off work snowboarding session" yesterday due to the weather, I had to redeem myself tonight.  I got off work a little early to I could meet up with Snowbird and his brother Jon and head up to App.  We didn’t see any snow on the way, up until we reached Boone, but the winds were whipping us around the whole way.  It was very cold and windy tonight and a welcome change for the resorts.  App was in full blizzard mode with the snow guns blasting.  I was actually blown uphill by the wind a few times!  Even though there was rain yesterday, there were not many signs of Ice.  App has an amazing ability to cover the ground with new snow so I only heard an occasional scrape.  This was one of the last warm up sessions for us before the Utah Summit and we had a real good time.

On-Snow Reporters:

We will keep a log of the best reporter’s submission, photos and reports. Trust us it is way to time consuming to post every pic…but send them…because we are tallying the scores.  The winner of the Best On Snow Reporter for 2005-2006 will win $1000 in cash, a FREE Getaway Vacation and more.  The contest will run from now through March 1st and we will choose the winner.  Our choice will be based on the following and IN THE ORDER of importance.

Quality of Photos
Quality of Reports (well written, informative, unbiased)
Number of Photo Submissions
Number of Reports

Extra points will be given for getting smiling faces in the photos and including names and cities where you can.

Extra points will be awarded for creative ideas.

We will choose the winner based on how helpful and informative the reports have been.

As of 01/21/2006 here are the top vote getters. (We will only document the top three to five here throughout the season…and we may begin posting the top ten, depending on how close results are.)

1. Lorrie Tomlinson
2. Kent Jackson
3. Mark McKelvy
4. Joe Harmon

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Conditions at Sugar are as good or better than those you will find at any of the resorts across the Southeast – See – Plenty of snow – Photo by Kent J
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A father and son (Tim and Bill Miller) enjoy some great turns at Wisp Resort in Maryland on a Gorgeous Friday – Plentiful Soft Snow – Photo by SkiSout
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