I felt as though I was skiing in a Christmas card. Was this really the first weekend of skiing for the season? And, was this really the East? I felt as though I had been transported to the West - the conditions at Whitetail on the second day of its season were superb! Mother Nature gave us all an early Christmas present with 8 to 10 inches of new natural snow. In addition, the snowmakers and groomers did a terrific job, creating a base of 14 to 24 inches. We did not see any bare spots on the trails that were open. It is true that only 10 out of 19 trails were in use, and the advanced area was still a work in progress. But, 5 beginner and 5 intermediate trails were open. Since we had not skied since early April, these were enough for us to get started.
My husband Charles and I danced our way down the easy trails, including Snow Park, which was smooth, well groomed, hard packed and fast. The Easy Rider Quad lift ran fairly smoothly for the first week, and loaded quickly. As usual there were interruptions as riders fell off while unloading. But, the sun was shining, the weather was warm (in the 30’s), and no one seemed to mind a few minutes rest on the chair.
The Whitetail Express Quad also ran smoothly. The lines were longer, but the wait no more than 10 minutes at the most. It was well-organized and efficient. Those trails were a bit more cut up and chunky, perhaps because of the sun, melting, re-freezing, and greater volume of traffic. But hey - Angel Drop, Limelight, Homerun, and Stalker were great! I made it down with only one fall for the day. My legs ached and were heavy the first run, but that eased up after a few more runs. It’s only a matter of time until the expert runs open. By then, I should be in shape for Bold Decision, Exhibition, and Far Side.
I was amazed the area was not more crowded, but many people may not realize the season is underway. Or they may be busy with Christmas shopping and other activities. But, the crowds should pick up soon. There is still time for the $19 midweek learning specials up to December 23rd. There is also skiing Christmas Eve, until 5 pm, and Christmas Day, from noon until 10 p.m. Then there is the New Year’s Gala with fireworks and a party until 1 a.m. Must be fun to be roaring down the mountain while the fireworks are going off! There are various prices for the buffets and lifts, with about $36 for the buffet and $68 for the food and lifts. It’s a bit less for young children. Liquor is not sold at Whitetail. People can bring their own, but it is not really encouraged - this is a family-style resort. And drinking does not make winter sports or driving any safer!
On the topic of safety, I want to put in a word about the new helmets with built-in audio. Music can be blasted into the ears of the skiers and riders, and they may not hear people around them. I asked some of the ski patrollers, and they admitted that is dangerous. They also said, the music can encourage people to ski or ride with greater abandon. Now, I love music, and have a son who is a rock musician. But, does it have to be built into the helmets? At the moment, I was told, there is no rule against this - I just pray no one gets wiped out.
If there are accidents, the ski patrol is ready. Several dozen were on the side of the mountain, taking their tests for certification. Ironic it occurred on the same day the White House was undergoing a mock test for Bird Flu pandemic. But no dead birds were seen at Whitetail. I heard the distant sound of hunters; hopefully, they were very far away. The ski instructors were also undergoing their special courses and certification. All in all, everything we saw was professional and in ship shape. Man, are we ever lucky!
When she wasn't skiing, Connie Lawn covered the White House as a reporter since 1968.