First Trax

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Don’t panic moms and dads, get your minds out of the gutter! We’re talking snowmaking capabilities AGAIN.

This morning I have to play referree a little. It’s funny how much Joe Stevens and I think alike from time to time. After a couple of shots fired by Winterplace and Appalachian over the last couple of days regarding who’s snowmaking capabilities are bigger and badder – AND because I have personally visited the physical plant at Wisp Resort in Maryland – I decided to do a little math.

I was right in the middle of cyphering my ought times oughts (à la Jethro Bodine of the Beverly Hillbillys) or in this case – my ought divided by oughts – when I received an email from Joe Stevens. Anyway, I digress.

We take you now to today’s scheduled three round, exhibition fight. Here’s ring announcer, Mike "No Bones About it" Doble to introduce today’s contestants.

"Ladies and Gentlemen we have in this corner – Winterplace Resort, weighing in at 7,000 gallons per minute over 90 acres of skiable terrain. Lads and Lassies that is a whopping 78 gpm per acre!"

-after a short pause for applause and effect…

"And in this corner – weighing in at more than 4,050 gallons per minute over 25 acres of skiable terrain is Appalachian Ski Mountain’s 162 gpm per acre!"

– pause for applause and the tapping of calculator keypads –

Okay guys, come out fighting…and keep it clean.


Winterplace delivers a strong right jab that came in the form of a press release that included a sentence that stated, "Winterplace increased their snowmaking capacity this season and is looking at adding even more capacity for next season. Winterplace boasts the highest snowmaking capacity per acre in the Southeast."

That blow seems to have staggered Appalachian. But no, there’s App climbing back on his feet. Here he comes….

DING – the end of ROUND ONE.


Appalachian roars out of its corner with blood in its eyes. There’s a ferocious upper cut – in the form of a statement that read, "The Winterplace statement should be changed to read ‘the greatest snowmaking capacity per acre in West Virginia.’ Appalachian installed the largest pumping sytem constructed in America last year, which puts our pumping capacity at 162 gpm/ per acre. Winterplace’s is 78 gpm per acre (based on 90 acres at 7,000 gallons per minute.)"

DING – the end of ROUND TWO.


Okay there really wasn’t a round three, but who has ever heard of a two round fight!???!! We’ll pretend that both fighters danced around throwing ineffective jabs at one another while the judges compared fight cards and discussed how attractive the ring babes are tonight!

DING – the end of ROUND THREE.

While we’re waiting for the judges to come to a decision of which ring babe actually WAS the best, let me interject that this small tête à tête was much like saying which bomb can do more damage – the 45 Megaton, Hydrogen Bomb called "Ivan" or the original 1945 Atom bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. In case that analogy was lost on anybody, ALL of our ski area’s snowmaking mechanisms are the best in the United States if not the world!

…and now back to the final decision.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, we have received a protest to this fight. An anonymous witness has submitted that this fight is not valid because they believe that the wrong fighters are in the ring. This person feels that the real defending champion of snowmaking capabilities is Wisp Resort. (Actually I was among those who thought that PERHAPS this was to be a three man, free for all.)

So let’s see if their concerns stood up to Jertho’s "Ought times oughts".

Wisp Resort would have weighed in at 15,000 gallons per minute (WOW!!!) – applause, applause! – but over 132 acers of skiable terrain and that brings us to – (Jethro, come ON dude!) – 113 gpm per acre.

(The crowd moans…)

"Ladies and Gentlemen, pardon the interruption. We HAVE a decision. The Winner and champion of the snowmaking capacity battle of Southeast and Mid Atlantic is – APPALACHIAN SKI MOUNTAIN.


The fight is over and now we find the judges in a dark hallway, somewhere crumpled in a corner. Let’s listen in.

"Guys, don’t you feel cheated?"

"I don’t know what ya mean, George. Yea, I feel kind of empty, but what are you talking about?"

"I don’t know, I just feel like there really was NO loser in there tonight. I mean all the contestants can r-e-a-l-l-y bring it when it comes to making snow. You know?"

"Yea and really I thought the win was kind of shallow for App. Saying they have the biggest snowmaking plant in the Southeast is kind of like saying Blythewood, South Carolina is the biggest city in the Southeast. Ya know?"

"Ya lost me there Billy Bob. What ya gittin’ at?"

"Well if all we’re going to do is say that the biggest and baddest is based kind of like per capita, then we’re all kind of missing out on the fact that the biggest city in the Southeast might actually be New York City. Ya know what ah mean?"

"Um, New York ain’t in the Southeast Billy, but ah think ah got yer gist. You’re saying that if you take the size of a city and divide it by the people in it, then the little town could claim that they are the biggest and baddest, but in all actuality it’s kind of like comparing apples with oranges. Right?"

"Um, George, what’s FRUIT got to do with this?"

HOPEFULLY you guys get my drift here. The fact IS that Brad Moretz of Appalachian is correct in stating that the Winterplace press release was in error and that PER ACRE, App’s is the biggest and baddest.

In fact (based on per acre) Wisp Resort’s system WOULD come in second and perhaps Winterplace’s system would be third. Maybe not though because Wintergreen’s system is p-r-e-t-t-y impressive. My brain is numb and I don’t want to do anymore math – AND TRUTHFULLY it doesn’t really matter because all of our resorts are among the best in the entire country at making snow and keeping us happy with sweet terrain to play on.

In closing and simply as an attempt to play "Henry Kissinger" here, let me say emphatically that Wisp Resort has the most amazing snowmaking system that I have laid my eyes on. 15,000 gallons a minute is impressive indeed. I have had the pleasure of touring several other snowmaking plants in the region and I can say that any resort that is willing and ready to take you on a tour – HAS WHAT IT TAKES!

So per acre, App is your winner. Per gallon output, Wisp is king. However, in reality WE SKIERS AND SNOWBOARDERS are the REAL winners in the battle to stay ahead of the weather that all of our Southeast and Mid Atlantic ski areas play.

Our hats are off to ALL of the resorts who spend the bucks to improve their snowmaking capabilities year after year.

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