Firsthand Report: Whitetail on Superbowl Sunday 6
Author thumbnail By Matthew Graham, DCSki Columnist

Weekend skiing is usually a nightmare -; long lift lines, packed slopes, overcrowded lodges and parking spots that seem like they’re in a different county than the ski area. But there is one weekend day during prime season when you can avoid the headaches -; Superbowl Sunday. On Superbowl Sunday you have a choice: sitting around in front of a TV watching a couple of teams that no true DC resident really cares about play a boring game where one team usually slaughters the other. Or you can get off your butt and take advantage of the winter wonderland. One of the best local resorts for doing this is Whitetail.

Liberty, being a half hour closer to DC, doesn’t thin out as fast as Whitetail. And Liberty has a pub where people can watch the game. Nearby Emmitsburg also has a few pub-like spots where people can glue themselves to a bar stool near a television. Hence, skiers will stay longer at Liberty before leaving to catch the so-called big game. The crowds usually head home from Whitetail at about 2:30 p.m. to arrive on time for a Superbowl Party. And there are no pubs or restaurants near Whitetail. Okay, there are a couple of small places in Mercersburg, PA. But that’s backtracking for DC/Baltimore residents. You have to drive all the way to Hagerstown to find a restaurant. And the nearest pub on the drive home isn’t until Frederick. This lack of any nice places to stop and have a drink and a bite to eat is a pain on most days when coming home from Whitetail. But it means great weekend skiing one day a year.

My wife and I arrived at 2:30 and met up with our friend Carlos. Skiers were already pouring off the slopes and we easily found parking spots close to the lodge. There were no lines to purchase lift tickets and the line for the express quad was only half deep. It took less than two minutes to board the lift. Light snow trickled down as we rode to the top. We tracked left off the top of the lift. For some strange reason, 90 percent of skiers seem to turn right off the top of the lift and head down Angel Drop or Limelight. The two runs to the left, Snowdancer and Fanciful, are generally empty. We zoomed down Snowdancer. I mean we ZOOMED!!! The snow was extremely fast. Not icy. Just FAST!!! I felt like I was going twice the usual speed and had to start carving wider turns to keep from going out of control.

In the short time that it took to reach the base of the lift, the line had gotten even shorter as more skiers departed. Karen, Carlos and I tried out each of the other blue slopes and then headed over to the Expert’s Choice Lift. There was only a handful of people in the lift line -; gotta love the Superbowl. We took a few runs on Far Side and Exhibition, both single black diamond slopes only slightly steeper than Whitetail’s intermediate runs. I considered going down the moguled monster Bold Decision, the only true expert slope on the mountain. I had survived a run on it earlier in the week without falling or making too much of a spectacle of myself. The center section of the slope is so steep and has such giant icy moguls that it looks like a shear cliff with Volkswagens glued to it. With the snow being much faster than on my previous outing, I determined that Bold Decision would be a bad decision.

We returned to the blue runs and arrived back at the base of the mountain at 5 p.m. to meet our snowboarding friend Ellis who came up for the night session. She has one of those unlimited night skiing passes for Liberty and Whitetail that costs 120 bucks for the season. (You can only buy the pass before the season begins). It was her first time out for the year so she wanted to make a few runs on a beginner trail. We joined her to become a foursome and jumped onto the Easy Rider Quad. This lift, which serves the Snow Park trail, is always packed. And because it’s not a high-speed lift, the line takes forever to move along. But not tonight. The base of the mountain resembled a ghost town. Only diehard skiers and foreigners remained for the evening session. I was surprised to hear so many people speaking various European languages. Who in the world comes from Europe to go skiing in the mid-Atlantic? But then I remembered all of the embassies in DC. Ah, they like that other football and could not care less about one of our nation’s newer traditions.

Ellis got right back in the groove after just 3 runs and we returned to the intermediate area and then the expert trails. But by 7:30, Ellis began to complain about her legs being sore from negotiating the more difficult trails on her first time out. Karen had reached her chill factor as the temperature plummeted after sunset. And Carlos could barely see the slopes because he was wearing excessively dark goggles that looked like Italian sunglasses. I wanted to stay a bit longer and enjoy the empty terrain. On a few runs I felt as though I had the place to myself. But I was outvoted. We made one more run down Snowdancer and headed home. RATS!!! Skiing on Superbowl Sunday can’t be beat. More skiers should come on out and enjoy that feeling of having all of Whitetail to themselves.

Well, maybe they shouldn’t. No, they definitely shouldn’t. Everyone should stay home next year and watch the Superbowl. I’ll check on the skiing conditions then and get back to you.

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About Matthew Graham

Matthew Graham is a skier as well as a hang glider and paraglider pilot, SCUBA diver, cavern diver, equestrian, polo player, sailor, hiker, biker, rock climber, paddler, and skater. He's also yoga teacher and certified personal trainer and has dabbled in just about every other sport, even stunt car driving and bull riding! He has written for the Washington Post, Washingtonian Magazine, USA Weekend Magazine, Hooked on the Outdoors, Richmond Magazine, Chesapeake Life Magazine, Metro Sports, American Fitness, Blue Ridge Outdoors, Recreation News and numerous other outdoor and travel publications.

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Reader Comments

January 30, 2003
I'm married to a European (Slovak) so I often ski with her and other Europeans on slopes near DC. Skiing is huge in DC's European community. I skied with a Czech friend a couple of weeks ago and he told me that if he does not get at least a couple of weekends of skiing in a year, he feels unfulfilled. The Czech and Slovak community, btw, has a sports club called Sokol that regularly organizes trips.

Many of the European embassies also run trips for staff and "camp followers."

Europeans have a different attitude about skiing. They could care less about bagging big vertical or skiing the steep and the deep. They never complain about bad food, slow lifts, or icy conditions. They go to have fun and ski whatever suits their fancy. Most are also excellent skiers. Ski instruction is a fundamental part of high school and college PE in most European countries with mountains. Maybe the ski industry should lobby for skiing to be included in the U.S. PE curriculum. :)
January 30, 2003
Matthew, point well taken about small crowds on Superbowl Sundays. It's so obvious to some of us longtimers that we forget to mention it sometimes. Given the recent DCSki msg board inqueries about how to avoid big crowds, your article is a good reminder about one of the best weekend days to get out there during the peak of the mid-Atlantic winter. I can recall some sweet, crowd free SS outings over the years at Seven Springs, Roundtop and Massanutten, to name a few. And usually I was able to catch enough of the game during warm-up breaks, apres ski, or drives home to be conversant the next morning at the office water cooler.
January 30, 2003
I too went skiing on Super Bowl Sunday at Wisp. Wisp is in Garrett County which has no sales of alcohol of any kind on Sundays which keeps people away. The only crowds were several school groups up from Montgomery County which had Super Bowl Monday and Tuesday off. We had a great two days of skiing. We plan to make it an annual event.
January 30, 2003
We did Super Bowl Sunday at Liberty ... 1st tracks at 8:00 and we had the whole place to ourselves until 9:30ish. Probably had the fastest snow I've ever seen at Liberty. There were short,short lines on the backside and none for the quad on the front side. On a 1/2 day ticket, we bailed at 1:00, Dipsy Doodle to head back to the truck was like skiing a ghost town.

What did you say is date for SBS in 2004? Gonna mark my calendar now!
January 30, 2003
Thanks for the report! I'll have to remember that for next year!
February 3, 2003
LOL yeah it was not so here in Park City LOL actually we've had a dry season but still 3,300 acers at The Canyons it's still cool. Superbowl weekend was quiet with zero lift lines but every day it's been like that until Sun when we got a foot. Many control open ungroomed blacks a bitch best use G.S. skis. Some areas of soft wind-buff, cover 1"-1 foot. Carving/layout potential great on less-visited trails. Oot over 60 degrees today despite busted left knee. Ever since moving to Park City and giving up on life Whitetail still seems nice. Met a Whitetail patroller a week ago he moved here and lives her now like me.

- Hey -
Just do it follow your dream and be a ski bum!


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