Behind the Scenes at DCSki
Author thumbnail By M. Scott Smith, DCSki Editor

DCSki History

DCSki started its life three winters ago as a free newsletter distributed to subscribers via e-mail. Initially titled the “Unofficial Whitetail Report,” this newsletter provided candid snow condition reports and event information for the Whitetail Ski Resort. This newsletter had a loyal following: close to 100 skiers and snowboarders relied on the Unofficial Whitetail Report for planning and timing their local ski trips. Last winter season, the newsletter expanded its coverage to include all area ski resorts and changed its name to “SnowBound.” Although SnowBound continued to be distributed via e-mail, plans were underway to turn SnowBound into a full-featured web site, providing year-round coverage of activities such as skiing and snowboarding, mountain biking, and hiking.

Once more, a name change was necessary. Although we liked the name “SnowBound,” it didn’t communicate the fact that the site is localized for the Washington, D.C. area. In addition, the domain name “” was already in use by another company. We settled on the name “DCSki.” Of course, “skiing” is only one small portion of DCSki. If you’ve perused the site, you’ve no doubt discovered that DCSki covers a wide range of interesting topics.


On August 1, 1997, DCSki will be officially launched as its own web site: During the past two months, we have “test marketed” DCSki to gauge its viability as an autonomous web site. Even though we minimally advertised DCSki, we were pleased to find that DCSki received dozens of visitors on a daily basis. We appreciate the positive feedback we have gotten.

DCSki will grow even more in the coming months. We are committed to providing the following:

  • An information-packed resource for outdoor enthusiasts in the Washington, D.C. area
  • A web site that is professional, organized, and thoughtfully laid out
  • Original news, features, reviews, and editorials
  • Pictures and graphics to complement articles
  • Editorialized links to relevant sites
  • Information of interest to outdoor enthusiasts, regardless of sport
  • Retaining a “community feel” by encouraging visitors to contribute to the site
  • Above all, a “fresh” site that is updated regularly. We intend to give you a reason to revisit every week!

    In many ways, DCSki is designed to mimic a magazine. All articles are professionally written by DCSki staff, and most of the photographs you see on the site were taken by us as well.

    How DCSki is Produced

    Maintaining a dynamic web site is no easy feat, but through the help of our parent company, NewsFlow, we are able to keep the DCSki site packed full of useful, up-to-date information.

    Our most potent tool is an Apple Macintosh computer, equipped with enough peripherals to make any “computer geek” drool. Our facilities include a PowerMac zipping along at 200-MHz, laser and color printers, scanners, video input cards, and a direct Ethernet connection to the Internet. Apple Macintosh computers are responsible for the production of over 2/3 of professional content on the World-Wide-Web, and for good reason: there is simply no easier way to efficiently produce web sites than using a Mac. By using the Mac, we are able to concentrate on DCSki itself - and not on the process of producing DCSki.

    We use an arsenal of software packages to develop DCSki, including Adobe packages such as PageMill and SiteMill; BBEdit; Gifbuilder; and Fetch. The components of a page (images, external links, and “copy,” or text) are merged together and the final page is “proofed” using popular browsers such as Netscape and Internet Explorer, on both the Mac and Wintel platform. Once the content has been created, it is uploaded to our servers.

    When you visit DCSki, you might be surprised to learn that you are actually visiting at least two computers - one in California and the other in North Carolina. Our site is spread across two servers. For example, some components of the DCSki site are located on powerful Sun workstation servers located in Silicon Valley. The bulk of DCSki is currently served from servers in North Carolina, with a direct T3 connection to the Internet. The servers have redundant connections to the Internet, ensuring that you will rarely have problems connecting to the site.

    We have developed software that allows the DCSki site to be “intelligent,” monitoring its visits and adapting its behavior. This adaptation will increase in the future and will help to keep the site dynamic and fresh.

    Please note that DCSki attempts to send a “cookie” to your computer when you visit the site - a very common behavior for web sites these days. This gives us the ability to determine if you are a first-time visitor or a repeat visitor. In the future, we may use cookies to enable “customization” of the DCSki site. For example, you will be able to specify that you are interested in hiking, but not mountain biking, and only hiking articles will be shown.

    At DCSki, we frequently complement articles with photographs. (When we can’t, we tap into our library containing gigabytes of clip-art and images.) This winter, we will be using digital photography to quickly deliver actual snow condition shots to the DCSki site.

    How DCSki is Funded

    DCSki has been, and will always remain, a free site. In order to offset the numerous costs of producing DCSki, we will be selling advertising space on the DCSki site. You will begin to see advertising banners placed at various locations throughout the site. These banners will be non-intrusive. We would appreciate it if you would endorse our advertisers, and be sure to let them know you saw the ad on DCSki! We believe the Web is an efficient way for companies to directly reach their customers.

    How to Contribute Information to DCSki

    At DCSki, we’re always looking for news tips and contributions. The type of information we are interested in includes, but is not limited, to:

  • Press releases
  • Announcements
  • Articles
  • Article suggestions
  • Feedback
  • “Reader reviews” and firsthand accounts.. For example, what is your favorite place to mountain bike? What is your favorite hiking trail? Information about related web sites (links)

  • About M. Scott Smith

    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.

    Author thumbnail
    DCSki Sponsor: Canaan Valley Resort

    Reader Comments

    There are no reader comments on this article yet.

    Ski and Tell

    Snowcat got your tongue?

    Join the conversation by logging in.

    Don't have an account? Create one here.

    0.02 seconds