I went skiing at Whitetail Ski Resort on Monday, February 5, 2007. I made the 90 minute drive from my home in Northern Virginia and bought a half day flex ticket just before 10:30 a.m. The cost was $39 dollars on a weekday. The number of folks on the slopes and lifts was sparse and I proceeded to rip about as many runs as I’m capable of in the next five nonstop hours. I’m pretty sure I reached or exceeded fellow DCSki columnist Matthew Graham’s $2 per run threshold of maximum ski value.
The snow conditions were great, packed man-made powder. All trails were open with bright sun and surprisingly little wind. It seems that the main face at Whitetail is often sheltered from the worst winds during my rare visits. Good thing too, the temperature was somewhere in the low to mid teens all day. One person told me that there was a more noticeable breeze on the low level terrain served by the Easy Rider Quad chair. I did not get over there.
Skiing by myself with no one’s agenda but my own, I immediately hopped on Whitetail’s Express Quad Chairlift. On my first run I took the Fanciful trail, on the lookers left edge of the main face at Whitetail. Then I worked my way across the mountain taking each trail in order. By the time I made it to the bumps of Exhibition I thought I was warmed up, but after bobbing, weaving, and pretty much butchering Exhibition yours truly was sucking wind and definitely toasty all over.
Then I moved on to the ego soothing Far Side trail, skiing it for the first time in many years. I love that trail, kind of quiet with a consistent upper-intermediate pitch. I skied it several times in a row, virtually alone each run. Bold Decision was also groomed to perfection and I alternated a few runs on these with tempered workouts on the bumps of Exhibition. This triad of slopes is served by the Experts Choice Quad Chair.
After awhile, just for fun, I switched out of my Fischer RX-8 skis and got into a longer pair of old Fischers which I had stowed in the trunk of my car. A handy place to park at Whitetail for quick access to your vehicle is along Fallout, the run-out from the Experts Choice Quad chair leading back to the main base. I dumped the older skis back in the trunk after just three runs and I’ll probably never go back. Modern skis are so powerful and self-driven that they pamper aging guys like me if we can just hang on for the ride.
I went back to the Whitetail Express, but began to think my personal gas tank was going to run out before my lift ticket. Before I had a chance to feel sorry for my sorry old self, I met the inspiring Tom Din, poster boy for Modern Maturity. Like myself, Tom put in many years as a Navy civilian employee, but he’s a few years older than me and he fully retired about a year ago (I’m still at it). At age 56 he bought a Whitetail season pass and returned to skiing this winter after a six year hiatus. And what a return, Tom was just about the fastest high-speed carver on the mountain.
Despite the wacky early winter we had in the mid-Atlantic, Tom has already logged about 13 ski days and it showed. Brandishing a new pair of Volkl AC3 skis, he carved up his favorite trail, Limelight, like a freeloading in-law going at Grandmomma’s turkey on Thanksgiving Day. He was kind enough to ratchet back his throttle so that I could make turns with him for 90 minutes. We enjoyed gabbing on the lifts and I found his great attitude and skiing very motivating. I mostly forgot about the fatigue I had felt before we met.
I closed out my day with one last run down Far Side. When I said farewell to my new friend Tom, it was about 3:30 p.m. I headed to my car with a smile on my face. What a great workout. I told Tom to pace himself; he’s just beginning a long and fruitful second career as a ski bum. The guy is my civil service retirement role model.
The extreme cold made my camera malfunction for part of the day. Plus, I failed to use the higher resolution option that my camera has for video. Oh well, here’s a nice run by Tom Din of Rockville, MD on the upper half of Limelight. He slowed to about 50% of his normal speed so the videographer could keep up.
Husband, father and retired civilian employee of the Department of Navy, Jim Kenney is a D.C. area native and has been skiing recreationally since 1967. Jim's ski reporting garnered the 2009 West Virginia Division of Tourism's Stars of the Industry Award for Best Web/Internet/E-Magazine Article.