News Briefs
Author thumbnail By M. Scott Smith, DCSki Editor

Tragedies at Spring Mountain, Mountain Creek

On December 14, 2000, the General Manager of Spring Mountain Ski Area was killed in a tragic accident during preparations for the resort’s opening. According to Ski Area Management (SAM) Magazine, the 54-year-old General Manager mounted a snowmobile and crossed behind a snow groomer just as the groomer reversed direction, colliding with and backing over the snowmobile. The 184-acre ski area is located near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A memorial fund is expected to be created for Buchler’s family.

This tragedy follows on the heels of another tragedy at New Jersey’s Mountain Creek Resort. On December 10, 21-year old Aurle Quick, a maintenance worker, was killed after being electrocuted by a power line sagging under the weight of snow and ice. According to SAM Magazine, Quick had been working on snowmaking equipment in a lighted area when he came into contact with a 115,000 volt utility power main that was hanging just five feet off the ground. The high-tension wire is normally suspended 50 feet off the ground.

Select ski shops form America’s Best Bootfitters alliance

One of the most important pieces of gear for skiers and snowboarders is boots - and finding a comfortable pair of boots can be a challenge. A select group of independent U.S. and Canadian ski and snowboard shops specializing in custom boot fitting have joined together to form a new marketing alliance, America’s Best Bootfitters (ABB).

“Unfortunately, big box sporting goods and chain ski shops have increasingly removed boot fitting from their sales equation,” explained ABB Executive Director Steve Cohen, who has directed Ski Magazine’s boot testing program for the past 15 years.

“Our members are among the remaining core specialty shops who’ve made a commitment to boot fitting excellence,” he noted.

ABB membership has been granted only to shops whose boot fitting and customization work have demonstrated a high level of expertise and consistency over the years. All ABB shops have a supervising boot fitter with a minimum of 10 years experience and have at least two full-time staffers who have achieved top-level “Masters” certification from MasterFit University, the snowsports industry’s bootfitter training center. They also have a full compliment of the stretching, grinding and stance analysis tools necessary to optimally customize today’s new boots.

The group has launched a web site,, which can be used to find ABB shops throughout the country. Locally, Washington D.C.’s Ski Center is a member of ABB.

U.S. ski resorts leading world in snow conditions

According to the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), which represents ski areas across the United States, the ski season is off to a stellar start, with resorts across the conutry reporting excellent early-season conditions.

“All of our member resorts are reporting excellent conditions this year, which is a welcome change from the last three years,” said Michael Berry, president of NSAA.

“The recent storm that blasted across the country may have been bad for commuters and travelers, but it was a wonderful early Christmas present for skiers and snowboarders, leaving more than a foot of snow at some resorts,” he added.

Colorado resorts such as Aspen, Steamboat, Vail and Winter Park have received nearly two feet of snow in the past week, with more in the forecast. Utah resorts are reporting as much as a five-foot settled base of snow on the runs, while most resorts in California have between two and four-and-a-half feet of snow on the ground. In Michian, Crystal Mountain now has 100 percent of its terrain open. This time last year, the resort hadn’t even opened.

Conditions have been stellar on the east coast, as well.

“The temperatures in the Northeast have been perfect for snowmaking, and with the natural snowfall that we’ve received, everyone is opening new trails daily. And a real benefit is that business levels are reflecting this return to normal weather,” said Ship King, vice president of communications for American Ski Company, which owns resorts such as Vermont’s Killington.

Locally, nearly all resorts in the region have checked in with opening dates, and are busy expanding open terrain. Colder temperatures in the coming weeks should allow most local resorts to have plenty of snow to offer holiday visitors.

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.

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