Connie and Charles Staying Warm at Snowshoe
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Connie Lawn - DCSki Columnist
January 9, 2010
Member since 04/19/2009 🔗
138 posts


On a weekend with the arctic blasting the whole northern hemisphere, it is great for skiers and boarders to be able to go to Intrawest's destination resort Snowshoe Mountain, West Virginia, which offers so many alternative activities and wonderful places to eat and play indoors. It is also good to find one within driving distance of home while air travel security is getting re-evaluated.

We prefer the scenic route past Smokehole Caverns, Seneca Rocks, Spruce Knob, George Washington National Forest, Green Bank National Radio Astronomy Observatory, and Cass, WV with its National Historic Railway. The highways and roads were in good shape thanks to WVDOT; we fell in behind plow trucks along several stretches to take advantage of the cinders being spread. The new road up Snowshoe was exciting in our little Honda Civic hybrid; with a steady touch on the accelerator to keep 15 mph we actually kept traction better than the SUVs sliding around behind us; but if we would have had to stop on the climb all wheel drive might have been necessary to get going again. When we checked in at the reception center at the aptly named "Top of the World." we met hardy souls coming off the expert runs off Soaring Eagle lift to warm themselves from outside and inside at the bar and deciding whether the single digit temps were above or below zero. Snowshoe is built on the top of the mountains, so you start and finish from breathtaking heights. The resort is built on two mountains, and the top elevation is 4,848 feet. There are 60 slopes and trails. The snow is plentiful, and some trails are left ungroomed, to maximize the powder.

This time we are taking part in the winter media tour, and our hostess, communications manager Laura Parquette, put us up in Allegheny Springs, one of the newest lodges Snowshoe Village.One of the best features in the condo is the automatic gas fireplace. The unit is large, and can easily sleep two couples. If you stay in the village resorts, you can also get special discounts on lifts, rentals, and dining. But get here in daylight! With over 7 feet of snow already this winter, it is hard to see signs and find entrances to parking, even though the area is constantly plowed and well lighted..

After we checked in, we walked through the snowy village to the Shavers Centre and a reunion with other reporters at the Moonshine Watering Hole. There was an evening show in the Comedy Cellar at the conference center at nearby Mountain Lodge, but (faithful reporter that I am) I returned to the Condo to write. With the fire blazing in the living room, the heaters pumping, and the sight of steam rising from the outdoor swimming pools and hot tubs, it was not a bad choice! Excellent free Ethernet broadband and cable television ensure that you can watch the network reporters with their eyes stinging and steamy breath rising on "pebble beach" in front of the White House!
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
January 9, 2010
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,107 posts
Thanks, Connie. Wonderful report. You really have a way with words; as I read, I could feel the cold air, see the bustling Village (I too usually stay at Allegheny Lodge), anticipate the great skiing to come later that day, etc.
I can hardly wait to read your report on today's skiing.
The Colonel smile
Connie Lawn - DCSki Columnist
January 9, 2010
Member since 04/19/2009 🔗
138 posts
Thank you Colonel - epic conditions here. I am writing now. You should visit this week, if you can. Yours, Connie
Connie Lawn - DCSki Columnist
January 9, 2010
Member since 04/19/2009 🔗
138 posts
Were we really in West Virginia? The snow was deep, light, and fluffy. All the trees were crusted with snow, as was everyplace else outdoors in Snowshoe. Charles and I agreed, we had some of the best skiing in our lives, and performed better than we had in years. It was cold, but not as windy as yesterday. Only the tips of my fingers were numb. We skied fast, because conditions permitted. It also seemed safer to keep moving, so we were less likely to be hit by skiers and boarders racing down the mountain. It was not very crowded, and lines moved quickly. But there was a lot of speed on the mountains.
Charles and I, along with the other reporters, sampled nearly every one of the 55 open trails on the mountains. There were no bad trails.
We had one incident, when I was going too fast and missed the cut off to Lower Cuppp in the Western territories. Charles tried to direct me to the cutoff, but I did not understand. So we both had to go down the double black - Lower Shay's Revenge. Charles was exasperatd with me. But, it was a fun run and not too bad. There was plenty of snow, and little hard pack. It reminded me of Bold Decision at Whitetail, but was a bit longer and wider. I am sorry I made a mistake, but am glad we took it.
One reason we performed so well was the excellent rental equipment. I am very big on rentals, and believe people should rent whenever they can, especially when they travel by air. The rental equipment is usually the most modern and is expertly fitted.
Snowshoe is using a fine new system, designed by Head. The boots and skis are color coded, allowing for automatic and quick fittings. The tips are rounder and wider, making for easier carving. There are only 3 sizes of adult boot shell and only 4 lengths of lightweight high flexibility skis: 120, 135, 150, to 165cm. You can bring your own boots, but the skis for and stiffer. Longer skis are available at the Demo shop. Children have a different system. Helmets are also available for rent, and are mandatory for those 12 and under.

In addition to skiing and snowboarding, we had another day of wonderful meals. They began with buffet breakfast at the Junction Restaurant. We met and heard comments from Bill Rock, the President and Chief Operating Officer of Snowshoe. He discussed improvements and said Snowshoe is continuing to do well, especially since conditions are great, and more people want to avoid the hassle of flying. Aaron Lutz discussed the new rental system.
After several runs in the dreamlike conditions, we had lunch at a new restaurant in the Village, the Taste of Asia. Its owners hail from the Maryland suburbs, and they brought their family cooking secrets with them. Great!
Dinner was truly "wild, wonderful West Virginia." We were driven several miles though narrow, bumpy roads and thick forests, until we reached the rustic and isolated Backcountry Hut. Some of our party rode in an old ambulance and Matt and Karen Graham traveled by snowshoe, after a full day of skiing. At the restaurant, there was gourmet food and terrific ambiance. I am relieved our drivers were skilled; I would not want to spend the night on those roads.

Sunday morning we were treated to "First Tracks" and breakfast at The Boathouse, which sits on the banks of the frozen, snow covered lake. Then, more skiing and snowboarding, and the long drive home. Thank you Snowshoe! Hopefully, "we will return!" Connie and Charles
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RodSmith
January 10, 2010
Member since 10/22/2004 🔗
318 posts
Glad you had such good skiing. Good job on tricking Charles into skiing Lower Shay's! It was closed when I skied there. Based on difficulty of the single diamond trails, my guess is a Snowshoe double black with excellent snow wouldn't be too much for a strong intermediate skier.

Our region's resorts must have done great business over the holidays with all the snow we've received. The big dump sure put things right quickly. Subsequent snowfalls keeping it rolling, snow in city and suburban yards sells lift tickets at the local hills. Plus all the great snow making weather should ensure a good base through March!

I went to Whitetail a couple times. Huge crowds, but we managed to avoid long liftlines. The cold brings 'em out, but it also kept them in, I guess. Most of the people seemed to be in the lodge. Haha
nancy
January 10, 2010
Member since 01/10/2010 🔗
1 posts
Since you are there and we are going to snowshoe feb 15th do you know of anylift ticket discounts? we are taking all our children and grandchildren this year and can not wait
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
January 10, 2010
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,107 posts
Rod,
Me thinks you do an injustice to Lower Shays. When the snow is soft and the moguls only waist high, then it is skiable by a high intermediate (maybe), but let the moguls reach Volkswagon size and be solid ice, then it is a much different run and probaly somewhat dangerous for an intermediate, especially if there are a lot of other skiers flying down the moguls. I like Shays best when Snowshoe grooms a path on the side allowing an escape route for skiers and boarders that realize they are over there heads in difficulty or simple uneasy. Compared to most mogul runs here in the Mid Atlantic, Shays is steeper and longer.
The Colonel smile
MichaelME
January 10, 2010
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
32 posts
Sounds like Intrawest's media tour was a success. Appreciate your stating it.

Any idea of wind chill, if lifts were shut down, numbers treated for exposure, rider collisions requiring treatment, patroller calls, wait time at lifts, heli evacs, road closures, cold watered down coffee, selection of $9,99 meals. How many other reporters and their affiliation?

Total cost of trip including add-ons, if the average slider had to pay out of pocket.

No disrespect intended, and glad you enjoyed your trip.
5 star reviews and those well planned/paid for by those with a vested interested, well....

Oh, and do they have Telemark gear yet?

Can't wait for the next dump, for a long road trip, dirt bag style.
RodSmith
January 11, 2010
Member since 10/22/2004 🔗
318 posts
Colonel, Shay's was closed when I went to Snowshoe. I was just speculating based on the other trail on that side of the mountain which is the easiest black diamond trail I've ever skied. A bit disappointing after having read a quote of Jean-Claude Killy saying Cupp Run was one of his favorite trails in the world. Steep trails and big bumps are two things I've never seen in West Virginia.

I've visited four of the ski hills out there. They all had excellent snow, which makes slopes ski easier and seem less steep. If the advanced trails I skied in WVa had been icy, or had big moguls, I'd probably have a different impression of their steepness/degree of difficulty.

It sounds like Shay's Revenge wasn't covered with huge moguls when Connie and Charles skied it, that certainly would make a difference.

MichaelME, it makes you wonder about how many of the articles we read in magazines or online are hosted trips like this one. Connie could have written her report without mentioning that aspect, just talk about the skiing, lodging and restaurants, etc. Letting us know that the management hosted the event opens her up to criticism, but isn't that better than leaving it unmentioned?

The premium lodging, backcountry and lakeside restaurants, etc. makes for better reading then, "We drove back down to the highway, dined at Pizza Hut, then found a cheap motel room..." smile
JohnL
January 11, 2010
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,518 posts
Quote:
A bit disappointing after having read a quote of Jean-Claude Killy saying Cupp Run was one of his favorite trails in the world.


He designed the trail... Would you insult one of your own kids? In fairness to JC, from what I've heard, Cupp has been widened, regraded, etc. since I was originally cut. I've last skied Cupp in the early 90's. Back then, it was a somewhat challenging but very interesting trail. It would bump up a bit in some sections. From what I've heard, the trail has become easier, and even more crowded. mad

Quote:
Steep trails and big bumps are two things I've never seen in West Virginia.
Whales make a huge difference in the difficulty of The Drop and Off The Wall at Timberline. I wouldn't call the bumps that form on them huge, but they are pretty nice. And they can get pretty icy. They are still much easier trails than Extrovert. The trees are where the true difficulty is at.

Quote:
MichaelME, it makes you wonder about how many of the articles we read in magazines or online are hosted trips like this one.


They all are. Just take the review with a grain of salt and get a listing of the trails, lifts, restaurants, activities, travel directions, etc. Even if most articles are too boosterish, hey, nothing wrong with reading something to get you amped up to drive 4 hours on snowy roads or when it's 50 degrees out.

Quote:
The premium lodging, backcountry and lakeside restaurants, etc. makes for better reading then, "We drove back down to the highway, dined at Pizza Hut, then found a cheap motel room..."


You've read my autobiography? wink
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
January 11, 2010
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,107 posts
Michael,
I have to weigh in here...
Connie Lawn and husband are two of the best DCSki reporters...their postings are interesting, informative and, in my opinion, always accurate...in other words, it is told like it is. Obviously they hit Snowshoe during incredible conditions. Snowshoe, and to a lesser extent Seven Springs, are the closest resorts this area has to the big name western resorts, that is "resorts" with the whole picture, not just the skiing: a walking village with multiple restaurants and other off snow enjoyments.
Many DCSki reports only examine the sliding aspect of a resort and the associated costs, ignoring the bigger picture. There is a mixed audience on DCSki and some are as much interested in the "family" aspect of a ski area/resort rather than just the sliding portion. And some are less offended by perceived "high costs" and multiple amenities than others.
Personally, as a frequent multi year visitor to the Shoe (I would say about once a year since it opened), I found the Connie Lawn reports accurate and pretty much "like it is". Obviously Snowshoe management did not emphasize their "warts" to the visiting reporters; and if one was not a Snowshoe regular, as the Longs indicated they were not, then many of the Shoes less stellar aspects (such as the children's ski school activity) would not be obvious.
The Longs aside, I believe most DCSki reporters to be objective and try to present the big picture. This objectivity and "large view" is not so often present when individuals post and cite their thoughts and opinions (sadly, including some of my posts).
Enough said...I ramble...
The Colonel smile
Scott - DCSki Editor
January 11, 2010
Member since 10/10/1999 🔗
1,139 posts
I have mixed feelings about hosted trips (and rarely participate in them myself; I would rather discover an area on my own terms rather than being led around by PR people in a carefully choreographed event). Generally speaking, I believe reporters should disclose when their trips are subsidized by the areas they're covering.

This is common in the travel industry, and although I have some concerns about the practice (and it requires reporters to be vigilant about maintaining their objectivity), it does allow reporters to cover areas more comprehensively than they otherwise would be able to. When snowsports writers visit a ski area, they want to maximize their time and experience the broadest possible set of activities so they can provide the most comprehensive reporting to their readers. These activities can be expensive, and reporters usually aren't rolling in the dough. And sometimes experiencing the broadest range of activities requires special access. For example, reporters might be invited on "backstage tours" of snowmaking facilities, or given the opportunity to ride along in a snowcat during nightly grooming. This provides additional insight into the different angles of a ski resort, and can make for fascinating stories. (There's another lonely world at night on the slopes when the lifts shut down that few of us get to see, but often wonder about.)

These "fam trips" as they're called (familiarization trips) usually aren't much of a vacation. It's still work. You're often shuttled from one activity to another without time to enjoy anything. You're getting "familiarized" with the product offerings, but you're not necessarily experiencing or enjoying those offerings. This is why I'd rather foot my own bill, visit areas anonymously, and discover the areas on my own terms. I then focus my writing on the experiences that touch me, although they might not be broad enough to provide useful information to the whole readership. (I don't have kids, for example, so it's difficult for me to report on the family skiing aspects of resorts.) It also limits the number of areas I'm able to visit and report on. But I think there is a place for these media outings, and it helps to round out the coverage. I applaud Connie for being open about the circumstances of some of these trips; most travel writers never mention the small detail that they aren't footing the bill in total or in part. In most cases, ski resorts only provide a complimentary lift ticket to working members of the media on assignment.
SCWVA
January 11, 2010
Member since 07/13/2004 🔗
1,051 posts
Originally Posted By: The Colonel
Michael,
.........And some are less offended by perceived "high costs"..... .......
The Colonel smile


In the last 25 years, I've ski over 200 days at the Shoe, including 9-10 days a year with the family. Unfortunately, the "Perceived" high costs have kept me and the family away from the Shoe for the last 4 years. I have found that you can go to VT or any other ski area in the MA and have a better ski experience for less $.
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
January 11, 2010
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,107 posts
In my opinion, costs at Snowshoe rival costs at most other major ski resorts in the Northeast and West, thus the costs are high for the Mid-Atlantic ski family, travel costs not being considered. One thing that makes many ski resort seem to cost less when staying near the resort is location. At Snowshoe, Mt. Tremblant, Whistler, Vail, etc. one is essentially trapped and must stay in resort accomodations, while at some resorts one can stay in a nearby town and enjoy lower costs, albeit it not slopeside - Alta, Breck, Lake Tahoe, etc. Travel to Snowshoe should be less than travel to New England, etc however, especially if vehicle depreciation (to include wear and tear, insurance, mileage, etc.) is taken into account.
Where I get urked at Snowshoe is not the cost...they truly are remote and essentially have little outside day traffic; my dander is raised when the services they offer pale in comparison to some smaller resorts, or other "first class" resorts. The children's facilities/ski school at Snowshoe I grade as poor when compared to those at, say, Wintergreen and Seven Springs. This is primarily because Snowshoe is not an all incompasing resort, but seems to be a number of departments that act like autominous fifedoms. At Seven Springs one takes a child to the "children's ski school" in a separate building that contains all that is necessary for a child's lessons, etc.
Once registered the employees fit the child for skis, helmets, boots etc. at the facility, divides the group into classes and takes them to the slopes for lessons. Same at Wintergreen and most major results. At the Shoe parents first have to take the kids to the separate rental facility to get equipment, then take the fully outfitted kids to the outside meeting place to leave the kids for the lesson. This might seem trivial, but assuming a late night arrival at the Shoe, all must be accomplished in the early morning: first at a rental facility that does not open early along with all adult and other skiers arriving for their equipment, and then accompany the child to the top of the mountain next to Shavers Center where it is usually windy and cold, for both parent and child. This year Snowshoe did include rental equipment in the price for half day or full day children's ski school lessons, but the hassle getting the equipment remains. Maybe it is a space problem, but I think it more a management problem, and since one is essentially a captive, there is no real incentive for them to change. Another problem that also relates to the remote Snowshoe location is having enough instructors, not just children lesson trained instructors. Many weekend instructors are part timers, and when taking lessons, say for a few days following MLK day, the number of instructors shrinks dramatically, making scheduling both private and class lessons a crap shoot regarding both time of lesson and location availability (the Basin or Silver Creek).
My two cents worth.
Bluntly put, if you are going to charge top dollar, then the customer has a right to demand the delivery of a top dollar experience. This is the primary area I believe the Shoe fails at. Snowmaking tops, eateries (could be better, could take reservations, but one must consider the location and limited season, especially at Silver Creek), slopes in top shape, uphill transportation good, intraresort transport ok, other amenities OK; but the Children's Ski School situation continues to need rethinking.
The Colonel smile
marzNC - DCSki Supporter
January 11, 2010
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
2,472 posts
Originally Posted By: nancy
Since you are there and we are going to snowshoe feb 15th do you know of anylift ticket discounts? we are taking all our children and grandchildren this year and can not wait


If you can get into Costco, there are 2-packs for $119. Lucky kids and grandkids!

Glen Bernie, MD
Baltimore, MD
Beltsville, MD

Fairfax, VA
Midlothian, VA
Sterling, VA
Manassas, VA
Springfield, VA
Arlington, VA
JohnL
January 11, 2010
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,518 posts
Unless you get your lift ticket included in a lodging package, Snowshoe lift ticket prices are one of the biggest rip-offs in the ski industry.

$60 for discount lift tickets? For Snowshoe Mountain? On what planet are we living? $77 during the regular season with no mid-week discount?

I realize Snowshoe is not holding a gun to the heads of their customers, so if people pay, more power to Snowshoe. They'll have to tear that money from my cold dead hands. And if I want "up-scale", I can do a lot better for the money.
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
January 11, 2010
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,107 posts
Also available at Costco in Fredricksburg, VA
The Colonel smile
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