Roundtop - glistening slopes, 100% open, rising above the brown fields of the surrounding area, the woods and - in the distance, the two smokestacks of Three Mile Island! Thank goodness for the magic of snowmaking - Roundtop was in terrific condition during my visit on Saturday, February 19, 2005. It’s better now, of course, with 8 inches of fresh snow Thursday night. But the Saturday we were there was fine. All the slopes were open, the lifts were running smoothly, and the tubing was so popular it was sold out for the afternoon. Of course the runs were fast, hard packed, icy in some spots and a bit chunky in others. What do you expect after thousands of people had been using the slopes all weekend? The enthusiasts who got there early in the morning told me conditions were beautiful then, with fresh, machine-made powder and pleasant weather. But, Roundtop is about a two hour drive from the Washington metro area. I just can’t seem to make it to “first tracks.”
Having said that, the crowds on the mountain were not that bad. The lift lines went quickly. Some of the slopes were crowded because races were held on one run; race training clinics were underway on another for some terrific, hot-shot young skiers. It is such a joy to see the skill of the young athletes - both on boards and skis. I can only envy them. It also shows that snow sports continue to grow and thrive, despite downer statistics which indicate overall growth in the sport is flat. There could be some truth to that if you take the country as a whole, but I don’t believe it. It is certainly not true if you visit any of our local areas; especially on a weekend. There is tremendous support and enthusiasm for the snow sports.
One of the things I like best about Roundtop, and its sister areas of Liberty and Whitetail, is the commitment to community service and good causes. There are several examples of that coming up. On Friday, the 18th, Roundtop hosted a concert to benefit the “Make A Wish” Foundation. The crowd was a bit chilled, but enthusiastic, and funds were raised for a good purpose. But some of the best events are just around the corner.
On March 12-13, Roundtop will host the “Ski 4 Life” 24-hour marathon, to benefit the leukemia and lymphoma society. Publicity and Marketing Director Chris Dudding says the goal is to encourage individuals and teams to raise at least $240 a person to spend much of two days on the slopes. There are a variety of festivities and events, such as a torch light parade, pond skimming, bikini races (brr - where do you think we are?), mogul competitions, as well as parties, lots of food, and wild bands. Saturday the 12th includes the bumps competition, a carnival-themed costume parade, an obstacle course race, and a sort-of cross country race. You have to be there. Sunday features the wilder events. But they begin with the US Army Cup GS race. Then they degenerate to the bikini and bathing suit race and the pond skimming. Skiers and snowboarders are welcome to all events.
The proceeds go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Central Pennsylvania Chapter. They say their mission is to “cure blood cancers and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.” While most of the money goes to the charity, there are also prizes which include a 2006 Season Pass to Roundtop and a 42-inch flat screen television.
Roundtop manager Jim Garling says the events “give guests the opportunity to challenge themselves while helping others … everyone wins.”
Even before the charity Spring Festival, there are a series of on-snow events this week. There are also special $99 dollar family learn to ski packages. And, there are $10 personal skill building clinics on the weekends.
Roundtop hopes to stay open until Easter. It has been an erratic year, with a rough start. But, hopefully the cold weather and snow will last, and we can all enjoy some fine spring skiing, with lots of special events in all the local areas.
When she wasn't skiing, Connie Lawn covered the White House as a reporter since 1968.