Liberty Mountain Firsthand Report: Wounded Warriors, Spring Fling, and Wacky Aliens
Author thumbnail By Connie Lawn, DCSki Columnist

Liberty has to win the prize for the most creative ski area in the nation. A great deal of credit goes to President and General Manager Eric Flynn, and media/marketing/program director Anne Weimer. But the entire staff contributes. Walking into Liberty on Saturday, we were greeted by aliens - as in blown up balloons from Mars. The staff sprouted antennas and weird wigs and makeup. The theme was meant to illustrate the fact, “this winter was something out of this world.” Spring Fling and pond skimming continued on Sunday.

Liberty’s staff dressed up like aliens in a toast to a wacky ski season. Photo provided by Liberty Mountain Resort.

Each division of Liberty decorated their space. Poor Eric entered his office early in the morning to find the staff had wrapped everything in aluminum foil - even his computer! Space ships hung from the ceiling, and balloon aliens sat around his table playing cards. I attempted to do a radio interview from his phone, while Martians kept descending on me. I lost it when Liberty’s costumed “Snowball the Snow Tiger” came in and started to dance and sit on my lap. The WTOP interviewer on the other end said, “Connie, why is it nothing about you surprises me anymore?”

Connie Lawn attempts to perform a radio interview with WTOP News amid many strange distractions. Photo provided by Liberty Mountain Resort.

The snow conditions at Liberty were nearly perfect - soft and forgiving. The area was 100 percent open. Most of the slopes were well covered with very few patches of ice and a few bare spots later in the day. Eric Flynn said they are committed to snowmaking and keeping the resort open as long as they can in March. There were few crowds and the lines were short - this was the time to visit! It did rain for about an hour, and that was discouraging. But then the beautiful sun came out, and it was warm and wonderful the rest of the day. The guests who stayed for night skiing, boarding, and tubing, also had the chance to witness the eclipse of the moon.

My husband and I had the good fortune of meeting up with ski instructor, and fellow DCSki Columnist Otto Matheke and his friends. Otto is a superb skier. He took time to ski with us for a run, and gave us some invaluable tips, before going on to teach some evening lessons. It is my goal to ski with the grace and fluidity he displays.

The Liberty trails are well-groomed, but huge moguls are allowed to remain, especially on the Ultras, Eastwind, and Strata. They are certainly as challenging as any bump trails anyplace else in the world. I preferred the wonderful, easy cruising of Whitney’s Way, Sidewinder, and White Lightning. I could not get enough of them. From the top, I always like to pause and look at the magnificent Gettysburg farmland, and say a prayer for the boys who fought and died there during the Civil War.

Wounded Warrior Weekend

It is appropriate to remember the warriors, especially at this time. Liberty hosted about 30 wounded warriors and their families for the entire weekend. The media from Gettysburg, (especially the Gettysburg Times and News Publishing Company) along with officials and civic organizations from Gettysburg, Fairfield, and other nearby towns contributed receptions, meals, and a Saturday banquet at the Elks Lodge (thank you for inviting us too). The welcoming reception was held at the American Legion. This is Americana at its finest! Liberty and the surrounding area really turned out to honor our soldiers and their loved ones, who suffered along with them.

Participants in the Wounded Warrior Weekend at Liberty. Photo provided by Liberty Mountain Resort.

In addition to the civic contributions, the weekend was sponsored by a combination of groups - The Wounded Warrior Projects, Disabled Sports USA, and BRASS - Blue Ridge Adaptive Sports, Inc. There are so many people involved, I am afraid to leave any out. Certainly, the main organizers include Leslie White and her husband Dick, and my fabulous, dynamic neighbors - Janet Hall and Trippie and Tom Penland. Their families are also involved in the project, including Janet’s strapping son Brian, a Captain in the Army infantry. Thank God he returned safely from his first tour in Iraq, and expects to return in July.

The other warriors are doing an amazing job, despite their injuries. We watched them as they repeatedly whizzed down the slopes. Some were on sit-skis, but managed on their own, without tethered instructors holding onto them. Others were on skis, using their special poles with little skis attached. We saw at least one warrior on a snowboard; he used his artificial leg and ski poles. Most of the skiers chose to leave their artificial leg in the meeting room, and ski without it. They have a truly incredible sense of balance!

The Wounded Warrior Weekend was a great success. Photo provided by Liberty Mountain Resort.

The Warriors were brought from buses which met at Walter Reed, but the sponsorship for these programs came from private donations. The various organizations hold a number of fundraising events. When the snow melts, the activities for the warriors continue with any sports they want - swimming, horse riding, golf, or anything else they can master or want to undertake. They have been through so much, and are living life to their fullest, knowing many of their buddies were not as lucky.

It was truly wonderful of Liberty to help make this weekend happen. And, it was great fun to be there, as always. The Warriors took the wackiness of spring fling in stride. After all, after Iraq and Afghanistan, everything else is normal.

Photo provided by Charles Sneiderman.
About Connie Lawn

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

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