Merry Christmas EVE my ski and snowboarding, snow-loving friends!

First Trax

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We’ll get to the GOOD stuff in a moment as I received Brad Panovich’s SNOWY Christmas Weekend Snow Alert at 11pm last night. It’s a GREAT one that promises to bring up to 16" of snow to the region’s highest elevation. However before I do, I want to share a couple of notes and then something that was nuts on Thursday.

First, pay attention either to the SNOW REPORT or to the details below in this update as several ski resorts will NOT be open for night sessions tonight and a couple of resorts will NOT be open on Christmas Day – choosing to allow their staffs to celebrate Christmas with their families. Other ski areas will open around NOON on Christmas Day and still others are operating on regular schedules. So pay attention to the details below and over on the snow report.


It’s Christmas Eve and I have a truckload of stuff to cover today AND I have some chores to assist Santa going on today as well, so today’s news is duplicated on both of our networked ski sites this morning.

3-4" of snow fell across the West Virginia ski resort areas and into Wisp Resort on Thursday and that created some nice powder conditions. We heard that a LOT of wind was blowing up there. The Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina ski areas got the wind…

<Brad’s Forecasting up to 16" of snow!

As I was making some notes late last night Brad Panovich submitted an updated Christmas Storm Alert and it includes SNOW, SNOW and more snow. He’s holding to his forecast of a day before and saying the we should see some system snow AND some Northwest Flow Snow that could bring as much as 16" of snow to the highest elevations like at the West Virginia, Wisp, Beech and Sugar ski areas. Of course the way it’s been so far in December, we’ll see some heavy snow all along the Appalachian Mountain ridges like at Wolf Ridge, etc. The snow should begin tonight and really intensify late on Christmas Day and heavy snow will kick in through Sunday into Monday.

So look for POWDER SKIING and SNOWBOARDING on Sunday, Monday and into the Holiday week. Is that cool or what!?!?! A WHITE CHRISTMAS and POWDER SKIING AND RIDING AFTERWARDS!!!

Check out Brad’s latest Skier’s Forecast Video at:


I was in Beech’s admin office around noon on Thursday and there was this young guy and gal in there being questioned by a Beech Police officer. I didn’t pay much attention to it. I figured that they had lost something or had equipment stolen, etc. Nope. They had hit the slopes with a counterfeit lift ticket! Both of them. Rhyne Garris (who wears a lot hats at Beech) told me that within a typical season ski resorts might see one to three episodes where a counterfeit liftie shows up. On Thursday alone they had EIGHT counterfeit tickets turn up! If you want a quick chauffeured ride to the Beech Mountain Police Department or any of the township police departments then try passing a fake liftie! I was speaking with "JB" in the View Haus and he said that people are getting better and better at attempting to pass counterfeit passes by using good, shiny paper, sticky backs, etc. Obviously a lot of ski areas have gone to scanned lift passes these days not only to counteract theft of tickets, but to track which slopes are being used more, etc.

Some states have legislation that makes the theft of a lift pass equal that of Theft of an Innkeeper, like when you go stay in a hotel room and skip out or provide them with an invalid credit card, etc.

Fines can range from $300 to $500 AND you may end up in front of a judge (in court) and you can be charged with a crime of theft and get (get this) some jail time. Some ski area towns have jailed people for the theft.

I spoke with the Beech Mountain Police this morning and the Dispatcher confirmed that they wrote several citations for the counterfeit lift passes on Thursday. He said that each citation involves a fine AND a court date as this is a STATE offense so a court date will be set and that includes at least $125 in court costs on top of whatever fine is levied. Beech Mountain doesn’t jail people for the offense however if you’re the one faking passes and selling them out in the parking lot, you could get some jail time once you’ve appeared in court.

All that for a $25-$60 lift pass!?!? Like I said, that seems like a silly way to BLOW UP a nice day on the slopes.

Before I get into the reporting for today, I have to say "HATS OFF" to Beech Mountain Resort and any and all of the ski resorts who had to fight some RAW conditions Thursday. The howling winds and ice-box temperatures made for some VERY CHALLENGING conditions to say the least. If you rode at your favorite ski mountain on Thursday and had anything resembling decent conditions, then thank the groomers who made that possible in some of the toughest weather conditions that you can run up against!

Rewind to this past Tuesday and Wednesday. Several of the resorts in the region picked up some light (very light) drizzle and temps rose into the 40s which created some semi-slushy conditions. Then come forward to Thursday and while there WAS snow blowing around across the region – it was accompanied by some CRAZY winds and quick-freeze temps that turned what WAS a soft surface on Wednesday into some potentially harsh conditions.

I’ve received a bunch of emails over the last couple of days from people complaining about how icy it was Wednesday night and again from today at various resorts up and down the region. I HAVE to tell you that I was out experiencing the conditions at Beech Mountain Resort on Thursday and Thursday night and I have to say – YES – there were areas of raw ice where very little snow was covering the refrigerator ice base. The winds were HOWLING atop Beech all day and into the night. We left after about 12-13 turns down the mountain (tells you it was good enough to hang around 😉 and it was a raw 10° natural temp and no doubt in the minus temps wind chill. So YES, there was ice and I’ll bet you could find that across the board no matter where you played on Thursday or Thursday night. HOWEVER – I want to quickly add that I and several of my family, friends and crew found several very nice areas to play on. The entire right side of Robbins Run was awesome, as was the right side of the terrain park area as you ski down Lower Shawneehaw. Also Upper Shawneehaw’s right side was nice with the exception of right at the top of the mountain. White Lightning was pretty good top to bottom and surprisingly not all that icy.

At times the wind was blowing so hard it would almost jerk my helmet off and coming down Lower Shawneehaw was crazy as the winds would almost stop you from forward progress. When the wind is howling like that, it is HARD for the ski area grooming teams to keep consistent snow across the trails. After the grooming break from 4:30 to 6pm, Beech’s groomers did an awesome job of trying to lay down some corduroy across ALL of the slopes and they even did an admirable job of covering the exposed ice atop Southern Star. I have to tell you that the surface conditions from six through about 8pm were pretty darn good despite being able to see the winds driving the snow cover off the top of the base. That was some crazy wind! The ski terrain was pretty impressive. I’ve heard some great things about Beech’s grooming and snowmaking this season to date and those comments were confirmed in what I saw Thursday. Again, hats off to Beech.

Here’s the tour per State…

North Carolina Ski Resorts:

Appalachian Ski Mountain – 18° – They report no new snowmaking – 100% open – 12 trails, ice skating and all three terrain parks. Santa will be shredding the snow from 1-4pm.

Beech Mountain Resort – 10° low last night and 18° as of 8am – They made snow and have all 15 trails, terrain park and ice sking open. They are open for day and night sessions Christmas Eve. No tubing yet, but we’re hearing talk that Beech might bring tubing over to the Meadows side of the mountain creating a better, longer tubing run. We’ll keep you updated.

Cataloochee – 17° – They made snow and are 100% open and tubing is open as well. Day Skiing on Christmas Eve.

Sapphire Valley – 28° – No Snowmaking – Both trails are open as well as tubing and the report to be open for day and night sessions.

Sugar Mountain – 10° low and now at 15° – They made snow and report a 9" rise in maximum base depth overnight. They have 19 of 20 trails open for DAY SESSIONS ONLY TODAY and then Sugar will open at NOON on Christmas Day.

Wolf Mountain – 20° – They made snow and will be open for DAY SESSIONS ONLY today and they will be CLOSED Christmas Day. I kind of like that actually! They will offer 15 trails today and tubing.

Virginia Ski Resorts:

Bryce Resort – 19° – No to snowmaking and 7 of 8 trails open for Day Sessions Only today. Tubing is open til 1pm today.

Massanutten Resort – 16° – Report no snowmaking and all 14 trails and 8 lanes of tubing for DAY SESSIONS ONLY TODAY. Here’s the hours for today and Christmas Day. Dec. 24 ski 9am-4:40pm, tube 9am-5pm. Dec. 25 ski 12:30pm-8pm, tube 1pm-8pm. Massanutten, all slopes and all lifts operating. Dec. 26th-Jan 2nd Ski and tube 9am-10pm

Homestead Resort – Made snow and added 6" to the max base. – They are open for DAY SESSIONS on 8 of 10 trails, ice skating and tubing.

Wintergreen Resort – 13.9° – Made snow and are one trail short of being 100% open with 25 of 26 trails available for day and night sessions today.


SKIING AND RIDING: Today we have 25 slopes and trails open and 4 lifts. We will be open for DAY AND NIGHT SESSIONS skiing and riding from 9AM-8PM. The average snow base depth throughout the resort is 24”-36”. REGULAR SEASON RATES ARE IN EFFECT.

TUBING: The Plunge Tubing Park will be open today from 10am – 6pm. Buy tickets on the web ahead of time if you want to take advantage of this great winter activity. Tickets for The Plunge or Ridgely’s Fun Park can be purchased over the web right now Click here. Ridgely’s Fun Park will be closed and re-open 12/25from 2pm – 6pm. Bring your little ones up here for some great family fun.

TERRAIN PARK: The Progression Park is open with: 10 ft box, 20 ft rail, 20 ft fun box, small and large propane tank rails, 2 small jumps, medium jump, 2 progression tables and a battleship rail. The Advanced Park is open with: Flat down rail, barrel bonk, big table, propane tank hip, fuel tank vert wall, leaning fun box. Keep checking this report for updates."

West Virginia Ski Resorts:

Canaan Valley – Timber Trail is now open! – Yeesh their snow report is crazy confusing! I can tell you that they have 19 of 39 trails open for DAY SESSIONS ONLY today. They offer lots of cross country terrain open and ice skating as well. Canaan picked up nearly 3" of new snow and that now takes them to the 62.5" mark on the season!

Snowshoe Mountain – 9° and they saw 4" of new snow! – Snowshoe offers 47 of 60 trails for day and night sessions as well as terrain parks and snow tubing, snowboarding and more. Shays Revenge will open this weekend and Laura Parquette shares, "Merry Christmas Eve everyone! Thank you to those of you who are spending some of your Holiday Season with us. We are definitely on Santa’s "Nice" list this year, and have been given the best gift there is; SNOW! Another four inches of fresh snow fell throughout the day yesterday, and there will be pockets of fresh powder across the mountain this morning. For expert skiers and riders, our snowmaking/grooming team suggests hitting Knot Bumper first thing this morning for some great powder turns. If you’re not on the mountain yet, don’t worry, every day next week is going to feel like Christmas because there is snow, snow and more snow in our forecast! Snowshoe will take advantage of all that snow and expand on what is already the region’s most open terrain. We’re now 80% open and will add the infamous Shay’s Revenge in the Western Territory on Sunday. Patrol will be out early this morning inspecting Widowmaker and we should be able to have that open sometime today or tomorrow at the latest."

Timberline Resort – 13° and nearly 3" of new snow and they are open for DAY SESSIONS on 20 of 37 trails for today. They offer two double blacks open today with natural snow coverage.

Winterplace Resort – 17° and 1" of new snow to take them to 22" on the season. Winterplace will play on 24 of 28 trails today and snow tubing as well. We’re not certain about night skiing so call ahead as there’s no mention of not being open for night sessions. One thing that has gone largely unmentioned this season which SHOULD be getting a lot of attention is the fact that Winterplace added 53 fully automatic SMI Polecat Snowguns during the offseason. This system allows them to produce more snow more efficiently! They now boast the largest automated fan gun snowmaking system in the country!

The other guys…

Wisp Resort – 18° and 3" of new snow and they are now 100% open with all 32 trails, snow tubing, ice skating and mountain coastering! They are open for day and night sessions today.

Ober Gatlinburg – 20° they made snow and are open for day sessions only today on 7 of 9 trails, snow tubing and ice skating.

That’s it for today. Enjoy your Christmas Eve. Send your comments to [email protected] or [email protected]  

We also invite you visit our sister websites:  for dozens of LIVE CAMS around the region.  for all the best forecasts for the ski resorts.

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