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by Joe Stevens

Hello everyone –

Photo credit: THIS MORNING at Snowshoe Mountain. 

I think it is easy to say that every skier and snowboarder in these parts were expecting this day to come. I also think that many out there thought it was going to happen a bit earlier than it did.

What I am talking about is the shutting down (I really dislike the word “close” to tell you the truth) of on-slope operations for the season. A number of ski areas are calling it quits for the 2022-2023 season after providing a final day of fun on the slopes today.

With that said, there will still be sliding in Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia as long as there are skiers and snowboarders willing to leave the warm flatlands and head to higher elevations.

To be involved in the snow sports industry is to have a half glass full of water. If you are not an optimistic type, it is time to upgrade your resume and move on from this occupation.

From the half full side of the world, looking back on this one crazy season, all the resorts were able to provide pretty nice skiing, snowboarding and snowtubing during the major holiday periods of Christmas, Martin Luther King, and Presidents’ weekends. Cold temperatures arrived just in time in every state to make enough snow for the majority of the trails to be open for everyone to enjoy.

But you know what, it’s just really tough to convince skiers in Charlotte, Roanoke, Atlanta, DC, etc. that despite short sleeve 70-degree temperatures out their back door, that there was snow on the mountain tops at all of the areas.

I know, I know you say there are web cams for everyone to look at to see that there is snow on the slopes, in real time. But there are lots of folks out there that actually want to have to bundle up to enjoy a day on the slopes. They don’t want to wear shorts and a t-shirt on the slopes, it’s just not the way they enjoy the winter time outdoor sport.

When the daffodils are blooming, I think one of the last things that folks are thinking about is putting their skis or snowboards on the racks and heading out to do some sliding. I have already seen folks cutting their grass further south. Now that makes me think about heading to my favorite ski resort.

Despite all these negative words you have read so far, again I would like to remind everyone out there, there is still snow in the mountains and, I for one have not put my equipment up just yet.

I suspect that we will be able to play a bit longer at the resorts that were able to crank out manmade snow, whenever it was possible. I even saw on the webcams Saturday manmade snow being made at a handful of resorts. Now folks that is stepping up when the situation is just bleak. Hats off to the resorts that cranked up the guns for maybe the last time this season.

I was talking to a mountain operations official at a resort that is pulling the plug on the season after Sunday’s day of fun. I was informed that they want to close with a product that skiers and snowboarders will remember. Just looking ahead a bit, the official explained that after today (Sunday) they would probably only be able to operate one lift and not be able to provide top to bottom fun. As the official told me, the numbers are just not there for it to be feasible to operate with what is remaining.

On Saturday I stopped by our local ski and snowboard shop to get some wax on my kid’s skis for some upcoming runs. I asked the guys in the shop if business had slowed down and with a frown on their faces, they told me no, it had just plain stopped. Yep, this type of weather in February not only affects business at the resorts, but off the resorts too. I was told that they were going to stay open, until the last resort shuts down for the season.

That is what I love about being involved in this industry, the never say never type of attitude. I have always said the winter sports industry is just like farming. You make hay when the sun is shining. In other words, yeah, you might not have the best season (harvest), but everything will be okay next year. Something like being a fan of a sports team who has won a championship recently. It’s just one of those things.

Yes, my glass is half full and I am planning to play some more this coming weekend at Snowshoe Mountain. I have been out on the slopes six days so far this season and have seen a little bit of everything. Just a typical season in that aspect.

I have also had the pleasure of seeing a handful of young people learn how to ski and snowboard and enjoy their first experiences on the slopes. I will use their smiles of pleasure to help me get through this crazy season.

Mike Doble has kept everyone up to speed on the snow drought of the 2022/2023 season and there is no getting away from that fact. But I am also here to say there has been hundreds of thousands of gallons of water converted into manmade snow this season. I had a reporter ask me the other day, where we would have been this season without the type of snowmaking we have in the southeast and the answer was easy, CLOSED.

Just a reminder, if your glass is half full like mine, there is still snow on some of your favorite trails, so get out there one more time, because the end is coming fast.

That’s it for this week, again thanks for joining me for my weekly ramblings. Just remember whether it be cold or whether it be warm, we’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather will be. Be safe and “Let Gravity Be Your Friend.”


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