Hello Everyone –
The 2013 – 2014 is less than a month old and as I write this on the first Sunday in December there are 13, count them 13 ski resorts and one nordic area open from Tennessee to Maryland in the southeast region. If you are keeping score at home those ski resorts include (from south to north on your internet map), Ober-Gatlinburg in Tennessee, Sugar, Cataloochee, Beech, Appalachian and Wolf Ridge in North Carolina, Massanutten, Wintergreen and Bryce in Virginia, Snowshoe, Winterplace and Oglebay in West Virginia and Wisp in Maryland. The nordic area providing some natural fun is White Grass Touring Center in West Virginia.
I have been playing on the slopes in this region since 1985 and I can’t remember when there was this much skiing and riding available over the Thanksgiving holiday. Let me also take a moment to say hats off to the mountain staffs of Cataloochee and Sugar for not only be the first to open but expanding the available terrain they dropped the ropes with on their opening days. Skiers and snowboarders enjoying the first turns of the season on this much open terrain, all need to send thank you cards to your favorite snowmakers as all of them from south to north have done a phenomenal job this season.
This time last year snow from Hurricane Sandy was still in everyone’s memory and so were the power outages caused by the downed trees that kept a number of snowmakers idle during subfreezing temperatures. Again what a difference a year makes, while the temperatures have been a pretty much (maybe a little colder) normal in the metro areas like Charlotte, Richmond, Knoxville, Atlanta and Morgantown, those same temperatures have been very nice for snowmaking purposes. It has been not necessarily butt-ugly cold but a constant cold that has kept the guns going around the clock for the most part. That means more resorts and more terrain open early in the season.
That gets me to my point this week, who would’ve ever thought the majority of the management teams of southeast resorts would go for it this early in the season. Usually most are fiscally conservation, but not this year. The weather forecasts indicated snowmaking temperatures and on came the guns. Now there is more open terrain right now in the region than has been open right before the Christmas holiday period in previous years. With that thought, can you only imagine what it is going to be like this year? If you are still deciding to go now or not, you better make your reservations soon because they will be going quick if they aren’t already gone.
Some other good news along with the amount of terrain that is currently available is the fact that anyone with internet access can now see what they are about to enjoy. I could be wrong, but I believe that every resort in the region has a webcam available on this site or on their site for would be skiers and snowboarders to see exactly what the conditions are at their favorite resort. Plus every skier or snowboarder out there has access to the internet in their pocket and if a resort is not reporting exactly what is being touted in their snow report, it’s easy for that person to let the world know what is truly taking place. I truly believe this in itself has done a lot to help the industry police itself when it comes to reporting conditions, just saying.
But again I digress from my main point of this week’s column and that’s the fact, if you haven’t noticed, the season is here and is already in full swing with 13 resorts open that fact just blows me away because we might be seeing history being made and just didn’t realize what was taking place in front of our eyes. It also proves that the best snowmakers in the industry work right here in the southeast and should make every member of the media who laughs when resorts report “additional snowmaking equipment” on their capital improvement lists every year, stand back and take notice. Give the snowmakers in the southeast the correct temperatures and they will provide skiers and snowboarders the terrain they need to have fun on throughout the season. But again, this year it seems that the resort bosses were behind them 200 percent. Great job everyone for the start of a season that everyone should be proud of, to talk about, and promote.
That’s it for this week, more to come as the season continues, just remember whether it be cold or whether it be hot, we’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather will be. Think about it! See you on the slopes and enjoy the coming holidays, you deserve it!