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

When does snow melt?

The annual “January thaw” seems to have hit the area early, as daytime temperatures creep into a balmy 50’s - and even 60’s.

Needless to say, snowmaking operations at area resorts have been suspended until colder weather returns. For the most part, though, resorts are surviving, thanks to healthy snow bases made during the recent stretch of below-freezing temperatures.

During the day, surface conditions have changed over to loose granular, firming up at night as the temperatures decrease and the sun sets.

Despite the warmer temperatures, ski resorts have been welcoming many visitors over the past several days. West Virginia’s Snowshoe Mountain Resort kept the lifts running at the Silver Creek area on New Year’s Eve, selling a record 1,453 lift tickets between 4:30 p.m. and 1 a.m. as skiers and boarders carved their way into the new millennium. The resort is expecting snow flurries around Tuesday and colder temperatures by midweek.

For resorts closer to D.C., nighttime snowmaking temperatures may arrive by the end of the week. Until then, high daytime temperatures may result in bare spots and trail closings.

Ski on the cheap in New England

Skiing doesn’t have to be expensive. That’s the finding of Chris Estes, who went skiing 30 times for only $435 during the 1998 season. Estes, based out of Vermont, publishes a newsletter called Ski Cheap that documents the best ski deals in New England.

Four issues of the newsletter are published each season, at an annual subscription rate of $15. Each newsletter is packed with information on special rates at top resorts throughout New England, and with so many deals available - many not widely documented - Estes sees no reason for anyone to pay full price for a lift ticket.

Some resorts have special discount ski cards, offering significant breaks off the cost of lift tickets; others offer discounts on select days if you bring canned food for donations. One New England resort even has a “Centimeter Day,” where you pay 15 cents times the length of your ski or snowboard in centimeters for a lift ticket. And 2-for-1 deals abound. Estes hunts out hundreds of deals and publishes them in his information-packed newsletter, in a clear and organized format.

The $15 subscription is a small price to pay for the benefits of this newsletter and is likely to be recouped in one resort visit. For more information, visit

Pennsylvania “Learn to Ski” Day

Pennsylvania’s annual “Learn to Ski” Day has been set for January 6, 2000, and many Pennsylvania resorts will be participating, offering discounted lift tickets and lessons for first-time skiers. At many resorts, learn to ski packages, including a beginner’s lift ticket, lesson, and rentals, will cost just $10. Contact each resort to determine their participation in this program. Reservations may be required at some resorts.

Luge Challenge to visit two local resorts

Bell Atlantic is teaming with resorts across the country to offer visitors a chance to luge down a mountain, and local resorts Seven Springs and Snowshoe Mountain Resort will be participating. USA Luge coaches and team members will be on hand at the free events to teach participants, age 10 and up, the art of luging. After attending a training session, participants will be able to don helmets and slide down a novice luge course, complete with snow-bakned curves, in a recreational sled.

“With the recent successes of the U.S. Luge Team, including its first Olympic medals ever, the sport continues to gain attention,” said Ron Rossi, executive director of USA Luge. “The Bell Atlantic Luge Challenge gives winter sports enthusiasts and thrill-seekers of all ages and skill levels another chance to try this unique sport.”

Luge is one of the fastest sports in the Winter Olympics, with times measured to 1/1000th of a second. A typical luge track is covered with 2 inches of ice, has a vertical drop of 25-30 stories, and allows athletes to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in approximately 10 seconds.

The Luge Challenge will be held at Pennsylvania’s Seven Springs from January 15-16 and will visit West Virginia’s Snowshoe Mountain Resort from January 29-30. Other visits include Ski Windham February 12-13, Waterville Valley Resort Feb. 26-27, and Okemo Mountain Resort March 11-12. Contact each resort for additional information.

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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