'A-plus conditions' for skiers, resorts

February 14, 2010|By Meredith Cohn | meredith.cohn@baltsun.com

The seemingly unending snowfall in the region has been good news to school kids, shovel salesmen and at least one other group: skiers.

The slippery roads and drifting snow from twin storms were not enough to close resorts in Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia or keep skiers from getting there. The slopes have been busy all week, and this weekend is shaping up to be even more crowded, with enthusiasts drawn not just to the large amounts of snow, but to the especially soft nature of it.

"A-plus conditions," said Ed Fowler, founder of the local ski club Skidome, who spent Friday on the slopes of Liberty Mountain Resort in Carroll Valley, Pa. "Powder and packed powder. Really nice."

At Ski Roundtop in Lewisberry, Pa., workers didn't bother to groom all the trails because "some people like to play in the powder," said marketing director Chris Dudding.

He said the resort closed early only on Wednesday because it was so windy that it was feared the power would go off and skiers would be stranded on the lifts. But on Thursday, the resort ranked as the snowiest in the nation, according to snowcountry.com, and everyone celebrated by heading back to the trails. Dudding expected more skiers this weekend.

"It's been wonderful," he said. "We got about 44 inches of snow total out of the two storms. Skiing is about as good as it gets."

Lori Epp, director of marketing at Wisp Resort in Garrett County, said she couldn't resist skiing some of the steepest trails, which were left ungroomed. She said the powdery snow was thigh-deep in places, and gave her a "tingling feeling in my face."

That prospect drew skiers all week. Despite 35 inches from the first storm and 27 from the second, the resort maintained normal business hours and, as of Thursday, attendance was up 126 percent over the same week last year, she said. Some skiers stayed extra nights at the resort because they didn't want to drive out, Epp said, but more people kept finding their way in.

"It's more than phenomenal," she said of conditions. "It's all still on the ground."

At Snowshoe Mountain Resort in Snowshoe, W.Va., 39 inches of new snow has fallen this week. And while the resort was not full during the week, the weekend is booked up, said communications manager Laura Parquette.

She said the resort is a destination where people stay for two to four days, rather than a place for day trips, so it is not typically full during the week. The resort did get some cancellations from people who said they could not get out of the Baltimore- Washington area.

"We've gotten a few calls from people who say they can't get here," she said. "But we're also now seeing a lot of people with cabin fever. It's been tough with the kids out of school, and they're out of work. So this is great for them to get up here and have fun."

Other resorts also say reservations are up for the weekend. Anna Weltz, communications manager for Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Seven Springs, Pa., said about 56 inches of snow fell there.

"The snow we have on the ground here is powder," she said. "It's white gold. It's a skier's dream."

Liberty Mountain in Pennsylvania got 41 inches, and marketing coordinator Anne Weimer said many skiers arrived before the storms to make sure they weren't stuck at home. The 41-room hotel there has been full all week and is booked for the weekend.

"Having the snow in the trees and everywhere else adds to the whole atmosphere," said Weimer, who has made a few runs downhill herself.

Beth Muscedere, vice president of the Baltimore Ski Club, wasn't among them. She spent most of her outdoor time this week shoveling snow around her Towson home.

"It really is a matter of getting to and from the resorts," she said. "I didn't even go in to work today because my neighborhood barely had only one lane plowed. I even had to help push some guy who backed into a snowbank."

As for taking advantage of the snow here, she said, "Too bad I'm not a cross-country skier."

Baltimore Sun reporter Michelle Deal-Zimmerman contributed to this article.


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