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Story by Joe Stevens

Hello Everyone –

When things are not working out for yours truly, my cheering section (Angie and Christian) stop me in stride and tell me to “Just take a breath.” Like when I want to meet a good friend for a few turns on the slopes and well, duty calls and it doesn’t happen.

This past Friday I was supposed to meet up with Mike Doble and his family at Winterplace and make some turns together. However, when your boss says you will be in an 10:30 meeting, those midday turns get tossed out the window. So, as we were getting our stuff ready for the quick trip finally at around 1 pm, both of my cheerleaders reminded me to, are you ready for it, “Just take a breath.”

The trip still took place, turns were made, and life was good. There will be other times to be on the hill with Mike, just not this time. But at the end of the day, he made turns and so did I and isn’t that what it is all about. Just make those turns baby. Sorry Dickie V.

I was on a very encouraging Zoom call this past week (remember those, well they are back) about how the West Virginia ski resorts got through the holidays and are enjoying the much needed turn around. In case you have a very short memory, things got pretty brown and ugly right after the first of the year and three West Virginia ski areas had to suspend on-slope operations. In fact, the majority of the ski resorts in the southeast region had to follow suit and pull the ropes across the slopes.

Then, Old Man Winter and his side kick Mother Nature took a breath and things turned white again and it turned white very quickly. I had a number of media reach out to me and inquire how things went from brown to white, basically overnight.

I usually responded to the question by asking if they were familiar with the process of snowmaking. A couple of them actually (not surprising unfortunately) asked me if I was talking about that “fake” snow. I am here to say that is like running your fingernails across a chalkboard for me. That is if you can find one in schools these days.

If you know me, you know that comment made the top of my head blow off and I quickly informed the reporter that fake snow was something that came out of a can, and you spray it on the windows during the holidays.

I made it clear that manmade snow happened thanks to very cold water mixing with high pressure air pushing it out into very cold air. I made it clear that millions upon millions of dollars had been spent by resorts in the southeast to make sure that there was skiing, snowboarding and snowtubing during the winter in the region’s mountains from Tennessee to Maryland.

Yes, it did turn from brown to white basically overnight. Oh, did I forget to tell you, Mother Nature tossed in some nice natural snow to help out the situation and that situation is pretty nice right now, with or without some storm called Izzy. Ugh, don’t even get me started on that click bait crap. Double ugh!

Back to the media, I made it clear that when the conditions turn to bad and then the weather does an about face, resorts can flip over night literally. Skiers and snowboarders that already know all this, rejoice every time it turns cold.

One interesting note about my various conversations with the media about snowmaking, they are at first taken aback when I tell them that it is actually a recycling process. Meaning, water is used to make snow, then that snow melts and goes right back into the lakes or snowmaking ponds and the process starts all over again. That note hasn’t really caught on yet, but that’s okay.

Getting back to the Zoom call with members of the West Virginia Ski Areas Association another thing that came out was the challenge of getting enough employees to operate each resort. Going into the season this was not an unknown situation, but with the recent COVID surge, the numbers of employees have shrunk even more.

I am mentioning this because when you go to your favorite resort this season, don’t be surprised if there are less employees to cater to your every need. If there is something special that you need, you need to call the resort and make sure what you need is still available during your visit.

This is another time when everyone just needs to take a breath and deal with what is being provided them during this crazy and now ongoing situation. It doesn’t look like it is going to go anywhere anytime soon, so just deal with it the best way you can. I recommend anytime you are planning to head to the mountains this winter to make a call to the resort, so that you are not surprised after arriving. Just something to think about this season.

Finally this week I thought I would let you know that yours truly has been named to the West Virginia Ski Industry’s Hall of Fame. This is the second year of inductees through the overseeing of the West Virginia Snow Sports Museum, located in Davis, a town in Tucker County.

This is a special honor and appreciate being nominated and then elected in the Hall. I will be going in with the late Jim Haas of Snowshoe, who fought and lost a tough battle with COVID last year. As I wrote when Jim passed, he was my industry mentor and only wish he knew what the industry thought of him.

Editor’s Note: Check out Joe Stevens’ Bio Here.

That’s it for this week, thanks for joining me for my weekly turns on the laptop. Just remember whether it be cold or whether it be warm, we’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather will be. See everybody on the slopes this season and make a few memories on me.

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