Firsthand Report: Ski Roundtop Rail Jam
Author thumbnail By Connie Lawn, DCSki Columnist

The snow was grey and mushy, but it was on the ground! There was enough for over 140 competitors to brave daring acrobatics during the Roundtop Rail Jam. Participants came from as far away as Ohio and northern New Jersey. The event took place on Saturday, October 9, 2004, but a ski swap and other activities took place all weekend.

The idea of a rail jam in October came from the Roundtop Mountain Manager, Dave Gruber. Marketing Director Chris Dudding said they rounded up donations from York Ice and shavings from local skating rinks. The madness worked! The snow stayed on the ground for nearly a week, as it was being built up. That meant covering it and trying to keep it intact though a series of days in the 70’s and 80’s.

Scenes from Ski Roundtop’s Rail Jam. Photo provided by Ski Roundtop.

There was great excitement and enthusiasm during the rail jam. Most of the young adult competitors were on boards, of course. But a few exceptionally brave ones were on skis. Their competitive juices were pumped up by the throbbing strains of the rock group “Contention League.” The competitors paid $10 to enter the competition. But, the winners split the pot.

The rest of the events were free. The Roundtop parking lot was jammed, and there was an estimated 1,500 people attending each day. They enjoyed the food, climbing the “flying leap rope course,” the moon bounce, pony ride, petting zoo, and other entertainment. Of course, the other main attraction was the ski swap, for the benefit of the Ski Patrol. It looked as though the various sale areas were doing a bombing business!

Roundtop is gearing up for a wonderful season. They and the other 2 local areas owned by Snow Time - Whitetail and Liberty - hope to open by the day after Thanksgiving, weather permitting.

Roundtop Manager Jim Garling says “enthusiasm is high, and people are hungry to get on the snow.” Olympic Champion medal winner Diann Roffe is now at Roundtop fulltime, and was already signing up subscribers to her popular and amazing ski lessons. Diane, congratulations on your recent wedding!

The fun is just starting at our local areas. Whitetail sponsors its Great Outdoors Festival October 23-24. They will have tons of activities, including chairlift rides. Great way to case out the runs, and savor the autumn leaves and the beautiful mountain colors.

We may not have the high mountains of the West. But, in many ways, our skiing is more challenging than theirs. And, we are second to no one in terms of enthusiasm and camaraderie.

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About Connie Lawn

When she wasn't skiing, Connie Lawn covered the White House as a reporter since 1968.

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