by Joe Stevens
Hello Everyone –
First off this week, may I just say Merry Christmas to everyone out there in Skisoutheast.com land. May this time of year find you with family and friends and for those of you fortunate enough to be at your favorite ski resort, make some turns for those of us, who would love to be joining you out there.
I tell you what, as all of you know in this region, it’s been bit down right chilly out there in the southeast mountains. Looking at the webcams from the various resorts throughout the region, I will just say there are some really die hard skiers and snowboarders out there.
As I think about the skiers and snowboarders who braved the cold temperatures to make those holiday turns, I also think about those lift attendants, ski patrollers and ski and snowboard instructors out there in the elements. That is some kind of dedication to say the least.
As you have read here on the website’s First Trax reports, a few resorts suspended on-slope operations during the cold and windy snap, while others limited access to certain areas of their terrain. Rest assured that these were all individual decisions with each skier and snowboarders well-being taken into consideration.
In my 39 years in the snow sports industry I cannot remember the holiday period being as cold as this one, that’s for sure. I am always looking for a topic to write about and needless to say, it wasn’t too tough this week, because if you don’t think the cold temperatures were on the top of the mind of everyone out there in it, well you just don’t get it, but that’s okay too.
Now if you haven’t noticed on the positive side of the storm that has been named Elliott by the Weather Channel (ugh, those marketing geeks strike again), tons upon tons of snow have been made at every resort in the region. In fact the smallest ski area in the southeast, Oglebay Resort in Ohio County, West Virginia was able to open for the season on Christmas Eve day.
Another resort in West Virginia, Timberline Mountain took advantage of pulling the ropes across the trails to aggressively make snow. This is something that isn’t usually available to the mountain ops crew, due to the traffic on the slopes during the holidays. By aggressively make snow, the resort is set up nicely for the days and weeks to come as the 2022-2023 season slides along.
But rest assured also, all of the resorts in the region are now in prime shape for the rest of the holiday period. Other than the wind giving snowmakers fits some of the time, snowmaking on the unopen terrain was extremely effective and if you haven’t noticed trail counts continue to climb everyday at just about every resort in the region.
This in itself is vital at this time of year because the holiday period we are in, provides over a third of the revenue for the resorts in the southeast. This is when visitors come from far and wide to enjoy skiing, snowboarding and snowtubing at southeast resorts. Going into the holiday season, the amount of terrain open was probably not as much as each resort would have wanted for their visitors, but that is all now in the rear view mirror as the saying goes.
Now to share with you of one of my fondest memories in my nearly four decades of talking about Christmas in the mountains. This probably happened every year I can remember and that’s seeing a young persons face light up and eyes get as big as saucers the first time they experience the delight of snow.
This is something that everyone in the industry probably takes for granted, that is the sight of snow, but for that young person, who may live in say, Florida, seeing snow for the first time is something they will probably remember the rest of the of their life.
Most of the time, when a family from deep south drives to the resort, there isn’t any indication that there is snow anywhere as the majority of the time it’s about snowmaking. This year is a bit different, but I can remember seeing little ones get out of their vehicle and seeing the white stuff for the first one and to them it didn’t matter if it was man made or came from the sky, it was snow and that’s all that counts. It made my holiday season working during the holidays very, very special.
Then there was the time that yours truly had to play Santa Claus on the slopes, three days after learning how to snowboard. Some day I will have show everyone the tumble I took, which later aired on America’s Funniest Video. I didn’t win, or even get invited to the show, but it was fun for 15 (no lie) years of watching me take a good end over end, just saying.
My goodness I forget to add a group of workers at the resorts who have been braving the elements these last few days. I mean they have been right out there in the middle of everything and many times while the rest of us were snug as a bug in a rug, asleep. You may already realize I am talking about every snowmaker in the southeast. They just put on another layer of clothing on, maybe some liners in their gloves and head outdoors to cover the slopes for all of the visitors to enjoy. Hats off guys and gals, a huge thank you from yours truly.
I know a number of you probably got some new equipment from the big guy, so I have no problem telling you that the season’s best conditions are there right now. Don’t miss out.
That’s it for this week, so 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. Again, Merry Christmas everyone!