The weekend started strong on Saturday, with sunny skies. By Saturday night, a storm settled over the region, dumping anywhere from a couple inches of snow to half a foot of snow. In areas south of northern Pennsylvania, the snow turned over to rain by Sunday morning, but temperatures quickly fell again Sunday, with the precipitation changing back over to snow. Frigid temperatures Sunday night allowed areas to fire up the snowguns, producing great conditions on Monday and once again attracting large crowds.
The upcoming week looks like an excellent week for skiing and snowmaking, with daytime temperatures staying below freezing. Because of the good conditions and continued cold, many resorts have decided to limit snowmaking operations to night. Some of the best conditions of the season - minus the crowds - should be available to those that can escape to the slopes midweek.
West Virginia’s Snowshoe Mountain Resort has been home to the “24 Hours of Snowshoe” mountain bike race in recent years. This winter, Snowshoe will offer its first 24-hour ski race, beginning at noon on March 20, 2003 and lasting until noon on March 21. The race will be held at the Silver Creek area.
Racers, in 2-, 4-, or 6-person teams, will compete in the relay race, performing laps on a pre-determined course. Racers finishing the most laps will win. An overall champion along with specific category champions will be named. Prizes include $1,500 for overall champion and $1,000 for first prize in each of the three categories. The entry fee is $95 for each racer, with proceeds donated to the Snowshoe Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps communities in the three counties that provide employees for Snowshoe Mountain. Entry fees will include a party on Friday, breakfast on Saturday, an awards reception on Sunday, an event t-shirt, and lift access for both Saturday and Sunday.
For more information on the event, visit www.snowshoemtn.com or call 877-441-4386.
North Carolina’s Sugar Mountain Resort recently described plans to spend $2 million for capital improvements over the next 3-5 years.
During the summer of 2004, Sugar Mountain plans to spend $1 million upgrading its Yellow and Green lifts.
“After extensive research, we have determined that upgrading these lifts is more beneficial than investing in a high speed quad,” said Sugar Mountain President and General Manager Gunther Jochl.
The resort will install new drive stations on the two existing lifts, and replace all of the chairs. Any salvageable chairs from the Yellow Lift will be refurbished and replace chairs on the Brown Lift, the resort said. Sugar Mountain will purchase the new equipment from Doppelmayr/C-Tec.
The resort will spend additional funds upgrading its snowmaking system and enhancing other resort facilities. In addition to the $2 million, Sugar Mountain will continue to spend between $300,000 and $500,000 annually on maintenance and upkeep.
It was so wonderful to see Whitetail functioning at full capacity! After the thaw, and the rather slow start this winter, Whitetail was booming! On Saturday, all of the trails and lifts were open and the trails were fully covered with machine made snow. The crowds were enormous, and the lines long. But the resort functioned well, and the lines moved quickly. None of the runs seemed too crowded but, as usual, I preferred the expert area with Bold Decision, Exhibition, and Farside. Not that I skied like an expert! The crowds and hard pack got to me, and I was a bit too timid for my own good. There was a small bit of ice, and it looked too uncomfortable to fall - so I slowly picked my way down. I savored memories of having Exhibition to myself, as I did during the thaw.
In the interemediate area, all of the trails were also in excellent shape - Fanciful, Angel Drop, Snow Dancer, Limelight, and Homerun, among my favorites.
Whitetail did something very interesting on Saturday to help launch the National Safety Awareness Week, a nationwide effort to educate skiers and riders on safety matters. Whitetail gave out copies of the “Skier’s Responsibility Code,” and offered free hot drinks to anyone able to memorize and read back the list to a safety patroller. An excellent idea! Do you know the Code? A primer is given below.
These tips, and others, are really good advice. More can be added, especially for the hotdoggers who bomb down a crowded mountain. That might be forgivable in the West, where you sometimes have 1,000 acres per skier (as in Snow Basin, Utah). But, speeders can’t be tolerated (except on the NASTAR course) on a small mountain which could have 3,000 skiers and boarders on it on a good day, as Whitetail probably had on Saturday.
I also believe areas should make helmets mandatory, and rent them out to all who need them. Also, they are warm and look cool!
The safety tips are extremely useful for new skiers and boarders, and for the increasing number of them who come from other countries. Let us hope they can read and undertand the instructions in English (it goes both ways - I have had some harrowing adventures, trying to make myself understood while skiing in some foreign countries!)
Safety Week continues until the 23rd at Whitetail at other nearby resorts.
- Submitted by Connie Lawn
M. Scott Smith is the founder and Editor of DCSki. Scott loves outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, kayaking, skiing, and mountain biking. He is an avid photographer and writer.
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