Winterplace, App Ski, And More Resorts Back Open After Storm; Plus An Interview With Al Kaye Ahead Of Beech’s Adaptive Ski Week

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It’s Wednesday, and ski areas in the southeast are back in business after the bad kind of storm – one with high winds and heavy rain.

Winterplace, Appalachian Ski Mountain, Bryce, Beech, and Massanutten are all open for snow sports today after suspending all or some of operations during yesterday’s storm.

And stop me if you’re heard this before, but we’ve got fresh snow at Snowshoe yet again. Three inches have fallen today alone. There are 39 open trails, 11 open lifts, and a high wind alert to boot in West Virginia.

From January 16 through 18, Beech Mountain Resort will host the 42nd Annual Adaptive Ski Week. It is the longest-running adaptive ski clinic, and got its start in 1981 with the help of the Atlanta chapter of National Handicap Sports. It draws adaptive ski instructors from as far as Vermont, Colorado, and California, and helps give the power of inclusivity and empowerment to its participants through adaptive sports.

Al Kaye has been a part of the program for 40 years, and is the man in charge of putting it all together now. Al and I spoke on the phone yesterday ahead of the event.

The following interview has been edited lightly for brevity and clarification.

Josh Sullivan: Thank you for talking to me this morning. I really appreciate it. How long have you been involved with this organization and this kind of work?

Al Kaye: Well, I’m what they call a recreational therapist, and I work in physical rehab. I’m going on 43 years with that work. This will be my 40th year helping out with this event. I kind of took it over around 2006. I was just a volunteer and still volunteer to help with this. But yeah, a long time. The event started back in 1981, as I recall.

JS: What kind of piqued your interest? What got you involved?

AK: Well, this funny thing is, they were just holding a workshop. And it said, “come teach individuals with disabilities how to ski” and being a recreation therapist. I said, oh, well, I’ll go up in and see what the clinics about.

And so they were doing racing and instruction. And I grew up skiing some over in Pennsylvania. But anyway, I hadn’t skied in several years, I’m an old soccer player.

I sign in and they said, “we are really short volunteers. And if you can ski, we need your help.” And I was like, well, it’s been probably four or five years since I’ve been on skis. They said “here’s a lift ticket, go get your rentals. And there’ll be a guy up on top of the on this run when you get there, and he’ll be waiting for you.” And so that’s what I did. About 20 minutes later I’m on Lower Shawneehaw at Beech Mountain, and I get off and my instructor was a paraplegic. His name was Rick Russio and he and he said thanks for coming.

You have to remember I hadn’t been on skis. I didn’t even get a fresh run (first), I just jumped in. But I was I was young, and I was still strong and so forth. So we did fine. And by the end of that week, I was hooked. And I started to ski again.

JS: That’s awesome. So you’ve been you’ve been at it ever since then?

AK: Pretty much. So that was 40 years ago. I’m not a young kid anymore.

JS: Hey, if you’re on skis, you’re young. I think that’s my rule.

What is one of the benefits of this weekend? Both the obvious, and then something that a casual observer might not necessarily know about the program?

AK: Well, first of all, it is motivating. It’s motivating for the participants, it’s motivating for the family members of the participants, because they can see them, get out on the slopes and do things like other folks do. And then there’s a ton of warm fuzzies that go around for the volunteers.

Sometimes (participants) got injured, you know? I have some folks that are either congenital, where they were born with a disability, or those that suffered some type of traumatic event. And those with a traumatic event, when they (ski),  it gives them the ability to get back on track.

There’s some research years ago from like Temple University, and some other studies that have been done that say that individuals that get back into recreation, and they get a buy-in into themselves and their self-worth and helps the socialization. Once they do that, they won’t have secondary health issues.

JS: And I’m just looking at the event listing from last year and you have participants from all over the southeast. So like Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, everywhere?

AK: Pretty much I mean, the majority will come from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee. A few from Alabama. I don’t have anybody from Florida this year. So that’s the main group that will come occasionally. I’ll have some folks come down from Virginia and Maryland. There are some programs up in that area. Sometimes from Kentucky.

For more information on Beech’s Adaptive Ski Week, head to the resort’s website.

Here’s what else you need to know about the southeast today:


After shutting operations down for the evening last night, Beech is back open this morning with 16 of 17 trails.


Don’t forget, adult race league starts January 18 at 6 p.m. Packet pickup is tomorrow, on January 11 in group sales.

The six weeks of racing include:

  • January 18
  • January 25
  • February 1
  • February 8
  • February 15
  • February 22

Reader MeiMei Ma ventured over to Timberline yesterday, and still got some first tracks when she was on the slopes around 10:30. But she reported that turned to rain by noon, with wind at the top and hardly a soul on the slopes. Then the wind really took over at night.

From the Timberline snow reporting team:

Colder temperatures return today after yesterday’s warmup. Surface conditions have firmed up, and you’ll find a machine groomed surface on our open terrain today. Strong winds today will require us to run our detachable lift at a slower speed today, and may cause brief pauses in service. All terrain is currently open except for The Drop, which remains closed until our next round of snowmaking.”


Rain: gone. Cold weather: here.

There are nine trails and seven lifts open today. It could get a bit windy, so bring a face covering today!


There are a grand total of 17 trails open at Wisp! There’s a 70% chance of a frozen mix coming down today, and temperatures will be in the low-30s.

The Central Park terrain park is closed today for a new build, and snowmaking is back on as the cold weather returns.


After closing due to high winds on Tuesday, Bryce is back. A note from the marketing team:

We are back open today! A cold front has have moved in, so we expect firm and fast conditions with high winds this morning but mostly sunny skies and 7 of 8 trails open. If you haven’t made plans for your holiday weekend come check out some live music Saturday and Sunday!”

Alpine Ski

One particularly sad result from the storm that swept through: the Banner Elk Alpine Ski shop lost its sign last night. The sign – and shop – are just a year shy of being 40 years old.

The Rest

Don’t forget: Clear your calendar from February 9-11. That’s when Massanutten and SkiSoutheast will host team up to host our summit. It’s a great way to meet like-minded, snow-loving people, and possibly make some lifelong friends in the process.

Thanks to everyone that has already joined us on Discord.

Think snow!

Think cold!

Click here to join us on our new SkiSoutheast Discord channel. It is a great way to meet new snow loving friends and shares experiences, ask questions, and more!

And as always, email me at [email protected] with your thoughts and photos.

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