by Joe Stevens
Hello Everyone –
It usually happens much before January of a ski season, but due to just a flat out busy schedule and well, not taking advantage of nice opening season conditions, yours truly’ s first turns of the season finally occurred this past Friday, January 7th at Winterplace Ski Resort in Ghent, West Virginia.
As I was riding the lift for the first time this season, as I always have tried to do every season, I looked around and took a mental picture for memory purposes. Don’t forget that you only make your first turns of the season, once and it should always be memorable.
This year, as it has been the case basically since my son Christian started skiing through his school’s ski club program, my first turns coincide with his school’s first trip to the slopes.
This year was a little different since the school’s first ski club excursion happened on the year’s first snow day. So instead of taking the 90-minute bus ride to Winterplace, he asked to ride with me in order to get to the slopes earlier and make some turns with his dad. It wasn’t a tough to go along with that plan.
Time for a little back tracking here, as everyone knows, the southeast ski industry took one on the chin in terms of conditions due to last weekends rainfall (see Mike I can say the “R” word). The vast majority of the region’s resorts had to suspend on-slope operations, to save what snow was left and concentrate on snowmaking that started on Sunday evening.
And let me tell you, the industry hit back in a big way as everybody was open for skiing and snowboarding by the time the weekend arrived. It was definitely an industry reboot, and it worked. Just look at the webcams from all the resorts. Nothing but white out there right now. Not to mention, some resorts got up to 17 inches of natural snow during the week. You’ve got to love it when a plan comes together, that’s for sure.
By the looks of things as the week progressed all the resorts were shooting to have their slopes in fine shape for the expected weekend crowds.
What that meant for Christian and I was our first turns were on limited open terrain. Hey, I have dealt with that same situation in previous first days on the slopes in season past, but it was the first time for my favorite 17-year-old skier. Heading to the resort, I could tell he was apprehensive of what his experience was going to be like for those first turns.
That feeling quickly subsided when we got out on the slopes. You could see the giddy up and go return as soon as his freshly tuned skis hit the snow for the first time, and he headed downhill.
Yes, there was really only one trail open that was to his liking, but it was turns and first ones of the season at that. Life was good again and so was the snow.
He could also see and understand why other slopes weren’t open at that time and that was due to the fact that Winterplace’s snowmakers were hammering terrain with manmade snow, from mid-mountain to the top of the resort. Being close to the industry by default, he totally understands that you make snow when you have the opportunity and when temperatures are in the low teens, you make as much as possible.
When he was told by Winterplace’s General Manager Josh Faber that they were pumping 6,800 gallons of water a minute for snowmaking purposes, he just shook his head and smiled.
Oh, by the way, the very next day Winterplace opened to the top of the mountain for the Saturday crowd that was ready to make some turns at the West Virginia ski resort.
Now let’s talk about yours truly’ s first turns of the season. Again, taking a step back, last season I got new bindings for my snowboard, because my straps kept breaking in cold temperatures and my wife was tired of me complaining about the need to keep repairing them. Guess what, as usual she was right.
Remember I am probably one of the elder statesmen when it comes to snowboarding in the region, meaning getting use to new equipment isn’t high on my list of priorities. The fact that I just don’t like change is probably the case to tell you the truth.
I was informed by Tony at Ski Loft that the toe strap would be different and that it would secure around my toe instead of over top of the boot. This he said would allow for more forward pressure on the board in turns. Okay, that’s different but was I willing to give it a try.
As memory serves me, I didn’t have much difficulty getting use to the new set up last season. That wasn’t the case this season in so many words, I just did something wrong. After strapping in and attempting my first turns, down I went. Seriously it felt like I was making my first turns ever on a snowboard. What heck was going on? Operator error I hoped.
Waiting for me at the bottom of the lift was Christian who had the same puzzled look that I had on my face. So when we got to the top of the lift, I totally unstrapped, while sitting on a convenient bench and redid everything. Well to make a long story short, operator error was the case. The next turns were just fine and again, while allowing gravity to be my friend, a fine day on the slopes ensued and memories were made.
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.