Wintergreen Race Course
February 15, 2008
My daughter may do a race at Wintergreen this season. I've never been there, and I understand both the GS and slalom courses are set on the Big Acorn slope - which I see is a Black Diamond. She has only raced at Timberline on Lower Thunderstruck. Can anyone tell me how these slopes compare? Also, what are "typical" snow conditions on this slope in early March? Can I expect decent conditions at Wintergreen in general that late this winter?
I didn't know the SARA J 4/5 championships were at WG this year. I saw her race last saturday, and she handled the headwall on lower thunder ok which is comperable to Big Acorn's steeps. Basically, it all depends on who sets a course as to how kids can race it. I know most of those involved in those divisions of SARA (if that is what this is) and they will be fair to the kids. I've seen course setters make a mild hill hell to race depending upon course features, and in the same vain, have seen gates on difficult terrain set to control speed and keep racers under control. In all it depends upon how ready you think she is for traveling to this type of race, how much you want to spend the $$ and how much she wants to do it. My son didn't travel until he was 12 by my decision. He wasn't ready for that level of competition although he could ski/race any terrain.
Conditions could be anything really. Most likely would be biased towards spring snow, if I had to venture an opinion. That particular trail does not slush up as bad as some of the others there. Often the shady edge on skier's right (where they normally setup the courses) will hold snow for weeks after they close. It has a northeast exposure.
Big Acorn has a pitch that can sneak up on you. It can be skied with both blue and black lines. Most of the time, I come away from that trail thinking it is a lot steeper than it looks, and it definitely keeps me on my best behavior. I'd say it skis steeper than Lower Thunderstruck for sure, but should not be a major departure. According to Google Earth, Big Acorn has an average pitch of 20 degrees while Lower Thunderstruck is 13 degrees.
Kim: Thanks for the info. Actually I never really thought about the competitive aspects. Last weekend was her first SARA race, and she had so much fun we thought we'd try our first road trip and hit the Wintergreen race. She's OK with racing kids a couple years older than her and just loves getting caught up in all the action associated with race weekend. I was surprised about the cost - I can see how the investment in racing can escalate quite rapidly. Fortunately, I have connection for cheap accommodations at Wintergreen so I just need to cover the race fees and lift tickets for her entourage
They may move the race to Snowshoe if Wintergreen doesn't have enough snow - if that happens we'll probably pass on the race.
Thanks for the slope info 219, I've never been to Wintergreen though I've heard it's pretty nice. Is that your main hill? I'm pretty excited about going to a different resort for a change. Been doing the Timberline thing consistently for 6 seasons now. How are the crowds in March?
You thinking about staying overnight? They have a lodge at the top, with two resturants and a cafeteria. That's about it. There is a small town at the bottom of the mountain, but that is a bit of a drive. It is a nice place, but it would get old after a day or two.
Tom, Wintergreen is the closest to me, and they have a cheap weekday season pass I get every year, so I guess it is my main hill. I avoid the place on weekends, but on weekdays it feels like a private ski club sometimes. The snow is generally good, sometimes great considering the mild weather they get. Their trails are pretty unremarkable, but they have enough vertical, enough variety, and enough of a challenge to keep me busy. Lifts are generally good too, especially the fast lift in the Highlands, which makes it possible to rack up a LOT of vertical in the course of a few hours.
Weekday crowds stay about the same in March, but I have no idea what the weekend crowds are like. I suspect weekend skiers likely to start tapering off their activity in March, like at most any mountain in the area.
They do have a ton of condos up there, so there are many good slope-side lodging options. They are reasonable priced in March from what I remember; last time I stayed overnight was in the late 90s when I lived farther away.
My son is on the race team at Wintergreen, and they raced on Big Acorn last weekend for a SARA race. Although conditions on the rest of the mountain were pretty sketchy, they had reasonable snow coverage on Big Acorn. Given that the races went fairly well, considering the conditions, I'm more hopeful for the championships. I know they're working to re-build the base, and if we're not blasted with 60+ temps, then we should be fine. We'll be up there for practice this weekend and can report on current conditions.
With regard to the slope, I think Big Acorn is a little trickier than it appears at first. But the younger racers all seemed to do fine last weekend, and they raced the full length of the trail.
My main complaint is that there's not an ideal place to watch the race - at Winterplace, I really liked the fact that you could watch the race from the lodge!
Point made on spectator opportunities at WG :(. Everytime I was ever there for a race I found it more convenient to purchase a lift ticket. Parking was a problem in the Big Acorn area if you just wanted to hike and spectate unless you parked bandit
. The highlands were somewhat better with shuttle service, but it is a hike DOWN and then back UP after the race. The folks at WG really put on a good show for the younger kids as their race team has had experience with this type of production.
Parking was actually fine last weekend - they've opened up some new lots right near the new beginner area, tubing hill, etc (they are all adjacent). Because I wanted to watch the race with our youngest son, I wasn't on skis, so I hiked across Eagle Swoop (not ideal with a toddler in your arms), through the woods (there is a trail), and found a spot on the side of the slope. Once there, I did find a place where I could see the entire length of the slope, which was nice. But I was on skis for the GS race, and that was much easier!