The SUB TITLE of today’s post could be (at least as of 9:35am Sunday morning)…
It Only Snow at Cataloochee and Boy that is gucci… (sing it to the tune of “It Nevers Rains in California”)
I kid you not. A tour through all of the Ski Cams this morning showed wet, freezing rain or foggy conditions everywhere except for ONE location and that was at Maggie Valley, North Carolina’s own Cataloochee Ski Mountain. Check it out.
I am in my usual, Sunday ramble mode this morning. I always kind of feel that we have enough new visitors and readers each weekend (and Google Analytics supports that fact) that I need to at least, briefly explain what that means.
Six of the seven days a week, Matt Laws, Kenny Griffin or myself try to “report on what’s out there”. We take an organized path and mention some of the more notable events taking place, etc.
On Sundays, I put on my “digital nomad hat” and kind of just let my brain flow without any concern over how organized the content is. I don’t proof-read the work and I never go back and move pieces of news around within the article or post. It is truly a brain dump. I’ve gotten a fair amount of feedback from Sunday posts and so far, nobody out there in SkiSoutheast-land has ragged on me and I have gotten some nice comments….like this one from last Sunday:
I’m fairly new to your (web)page but I’m hooked to the point that I check it out two or three times a week. I always enjoy the way you guys tell it like it is. I like Brian’s stories too. However, I must say that I like the Sunday (what you call rambles). It is kind of like we agreed to meet at a coffee shop in the village and you just started sharing without much thought. It feels natural and I think your readers like it. You are welcome to share my review. – Thomas Blankenship, Chillum, Maryland.
First of all, Thomas – thanks for taking the time. Second, thanks for the review. In all of our 27 seasons, I THINK this is actually our first review. I know we’ve been featured by many news stations and in print, but I really think this is our first review. 50M-60M visitors later and we have a review. …and it’s a good one. I also have to admit that I’d never heard of “Chillum” Maryland but we could certainly use a bit more “Chillum” around our ski mountains.
If you have read down to this part in today’s FirsTrax, you have JUST spent the last 1:42.14 rambling. Let’s go do some more.
I Miss Our Morning Coffee Meetings…
Thomas’ review kind of reminded my of how several years ago when I’d visit various ski areas, the top brass would always want to meet me in a local coffee shop just to sit down in a comfortable setting and talk shop. On my numerous and early visits to Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia, Joe Stevens – who then served as Snowshoe’s Communications Director – would arrange for us to meet Ed Galford at Starbucks in the Village, for a chat. Those early morning greets were nice…and I don’t usually drink coffee. Good times…
The Snow Drought Continues…I’m Afraid…
I’m a bit perturbed this morning as any snow-loving soul would be. The weather forecast since Tuesday or Wednesday of this week was for the North Carolina and Virginia ski mountains to see significant snow…and perhaps as much as 12″ or more. As we got to early Friday morning, the system was still in place but bets were being pulled back a bit and odds were being offered that showed equal chances of seeing 5-8″ of snow OR 1-3″ of snow and wintry mix. To wake up this morning and see only a dusting of wintry mix on my deck is NOT what the old skier in me ordered.
Alas, however, according to the NWS, we still have a WINTER STORM WARNING in effect for Avery County AND they still think we will see 2″-6″ of wet snow and mix by about the time the big game starts. I don’t know if I’m buying that forecast, so in honor of one of the heaviest sports betting days of the year – I will take the “less than 3″ of official snow/mix” final tally. Cataloochee Ski Area may still see 3-5″ of snow…but the ski areas here in the High Country? I’m thinking 2-3″ if that.
That’s a bummer, because this system had the makeup to be a good snow deliverer. The cold air was just not there early enough. It is 35° +/- a degree at pretty much every ski hill in North Carolina and while the NWS is showing temperatures dropping a notch to 28° or so by 2pm – I’m still staying with my bet.
All of the NC ResortCams are showing wet, cloudy, foggy conditions with some icicles here and there.
If you take a tour on the ResortCams.com “virtual bus” today, you’ll see that things are pretty much the same in Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee and Maryland as well.
Check the SNOW REPORT this morning for full details.
ChatGPT Doesn’t Know Wolf Ridge Resort Exists
There’s a LOT of chatter about ChatGPT, QuilBot, Jasper and other AI content writing programs. As I am involved in web development and SEO, we’ve tested a bunch. On Saturday, I saw where Snow Brains tested ChatGPT and asked it to rank the top 9 ski resort in North America. Those kinds of lists are a dime a dozen and really up to the whim and opinion of the writer of the moment. The results were pretty spot on and consistent with what most snow lovers would say.
I figured what the heck, I’ll give a whirl. I asked ChatGPT to rank the top ski resorts in the Southeast and mid Atlantic. It isn’t important to this particular writer to share their results except to say that they didn’t include ANY ski area outside of North Carolina. Additionally, they didn’t include WOLF RIDGE SKI RESORT in the list as even existing.
So I tried again – this time asking it to write an article ranking the ski resorts in North Carolina. This time it DID mention Wolf Ridge, but showed them in last place…and the AI bot didn’t recognize Sapphire Valley Resort as existing.
I revamped my search once more to ask it to write an article ranking the Southeastern Ski Areas Ski Resorts – thinking that perhaps the brain behind all of the AI would get a hint.
This time, Snowshoe Mountain captured the top honor, but no other West Virginia or Virginia ski area was even mentioned AND they only recognized FIVE ski areas, (instead of the SIXTEEN that exist) and they had Ober Mountain in the 3rd spot.
It is safe to say that AI won’t be replacing this old, ski bum’s brain anytime soon!
I DID find the results interesting when I defined each ranking by state. I am personally involved with all of the ski areas so for me to share MY insight, would be like one of those sports announcers choosing sides before a game they are calling. So I won’t share the rankings except to say that I think the AI got it right for North Carolina although I think many of our readers might flip/flop the top two. As far as ranking the Virginia ski resorts, I think ChatGBT missed it a bit. I would have Wintergreen and Massanutten as the top two – and you could flip flop them about any day. Omni Homestead is by far the nicest RESORT in the entire region, but if you’re ranking the on-snow experience, they would take up the last spot on the list – and they did.
I found their ranking of West Virginia ski areas “dated”. I really think Timberline Mountain should have been up one notch, but the truth is you could easily flip flop Canaan and Timberline every other day depending on your mood, because they are both awesome and they are both improving their game annually…and really all of the West Virginia ski areas can say that.
Unfortunately, not every ski area in the region can make that brag. We have a couple that might be nominated for exclusion of coverage, because they don’t think enough to update their own pass holders…much less anyone else.
That’s about all the muddy, snow I can sling today.
Enjoy your Super Bowl Sunday.
Here are some notables.
They lead the “league” (notice the Super Bowl theme today?) in slopes offered with 57 of 61 trails including everything over on the Western Territory.
Winterplace looks awesome really. With 27 of 29 trails open and an expectation of 2-3″ of natural snow…Sunday should be great once the light drizzle moves out and snow falls!
Also loving this announcement of their 40th Anniversary Celebration coming up February 25th- & 26th.
APPALACHIAN SKI MOUNTAIN
I drove up over the top of App on Saturday afternoon and the crowd there was enjoying the soft snow. The mountain WAS and IS 100% open.
CANAAN VALLEY RESORT
They were the only ski area I witnessed MAKING SNOW this morning. Others could have been, but it wasn’t being reported or it wasn’t on camera. Those all of you who believe that we are all living in a simulation, I guess – if you don’t SEE snowmaking happening, it ISN’T. Right? Haha.
Canaan Valley Resort has opened up MORE trails and now offers 23 of 47 slopes for your skiing and snowboarding pleasure.
SAPPHIRE VALLEY RESORT
The live cam there shows snow on the slopes, however their own snow report is showing asterisks (**) where the number of slopes are meant to display. We’d advise calling ahead.
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