For those disbelieving (jealous) flatlanders, skiing in March in the South seems like madness - but it happens every season, and locals and their checkbooks are the direct recipients through annual "March Madness" discounts offered at all four High Country snowsport resorts.
Every year, with the end of season in sight, yet with ample snow bases to utilize, local resorts 'go mad,' so to speak, significantly lowering rates on lift tickets, rentals and accommodations.
This month, March Madness rates begin at Hawksnest Resort this Friday, March 4, when tubing sessions cost $18 on Fridays and $25 on Saturdays and Sundays; March Madness rates begin at Sugar Mountain Resort on Monday, March 7, when lift tickets, rentals and lessons are discounted by 25 percent; Spring Fever Blowout rates begin at Ski Beech on Monday, March 7, when day and twilight tickets cost $20 and half-day and night tickets cost $10; and Late Season rates begin at Appalachian Ski Mountain on Monday, March 14, when lift ticket prices drop by 15 percent or more.
Go play in the snow-for less money.
Around the Slopes...
As of press time, Sugar Mountain Resort sits with a 30- to 84-inch base, with 15 of 20 slopes open and seven of 11 lifts open; Appalachian Ski Mountain and Appalachian Terrain Park report a 49- to 90-inch base, with 12 of 12 slopes open and five of six lifts open; and Ski Beech at Beech Mountain Resort is offering a 22- to 64-inch base, with 14 of 15 slopes open and four-of-eight lifts open.
Night sessions are available at all three resorts. Ice skating is open at Appalachian Ski Mountain, but is closed at Sugar Mountain Resort and Ski Beech. Snow tubing is closed at Ski Beech, Sugar Mountain Resort and Hawksnest Resort, however, Hawksnest plans to reopen its snow-tubing operation this Friday, March 4, weather permitting.
Hawksnest announced last weekend that it would close its snow-tubing operation from Monday through Thursday, Feb. 28 to March 3, but reopen Friday, March 4. The surprise came when the resort announced it would offer its March Madness rates a full two weeks earlier than planned, on this Friday, March 4, as opposed to the previously advertised Friday, March 18.
Sugar will celebrate the life of the late Dick Trundy this weekend, with the annual Dick Trundy Sugar Cup Giant Slalom this Sunday, March 6. Trundy was a decorated Marine Corps general and aviator who served as Sugar Mountain's director of operations after his retirement from the service. The competition is a NASTAR-style competition open to skiers and snowboarders from the ages of 4 to seniors 65 years and up. Event registration begins at 7:30 a.m., with racing starting at 9 a.m. on Big Red. All proceeds from entry fees go to the American Cancer Society.
This Sunday also marks Sugar Bear's Birthday Celebration. Activities include the Great Bear Race, a magic show, special treats and cupcakes and ice cream.
Sugar Bear and long-time ski patroller Fay Binning recently visited Valle Crucis Elementary School with the mission to teach the third and fourth graders the seven points of skier safety. A week later the children spent a day on the slopes. Following their theoretical teaching and on-snow experience, the children participated in the National Ski Areas Association's (NSAA) Kid's National Safety Poster Contest. The students created a poster based on one or more of the seven elements of the "Your Responsibility Code" or one of the three elements of the "Smart Style" Freestyle Terrain Safety Program.
Three winners from each of the two third and fourth grade classes were identified and awarded prizes donated by Alpine Ski Center, Ski Country Sports and Sugar Mountain Resort. The top three posters from Mrs. Wilcox's third grade class include Dawn Trivette, Ismerai Sanchez and Natalie Noble. The top three posters from Mrs. Holste's third grade class include Timothy Rushin, Colin Cramblit and Lily Williams. The top three posters from Mrs. Glover's fourth grade class include Lilia Moon Bauer, Hayley Painter and Lindsay Blair, and the top three posters from Mr. Hagaman's fourth grade class include Olivia Jochl, Luke Drummond and Tanner Black, respectively.
A 2011-12 Sugar Mountain Ski Resort season pass was awarded to Noah Pearson, who was randomly chosen from the top 20 of the 54 submitted posters. Fourth grader Renee Weather had this say about the Safety Poster Contest, "Without the rules, all the slopes would be chaos."
"The contest not only promotes slope safety, but also teaches the positive values of outdoor winter recreation," said Sugar Mountain Resort president Gunther Jochl. "It serves as one of the many tools, which strengthens our bond with the community."
The wining posters will be entered into the national competition in Lakewood, Colo. Local winning posters are currently on display in Sugar Mountain Resort's base lodge and in Valle Crucis Elementary School.
Appalachian Ski Mountain's fourth Fresh Friday event takes place this Friday, March 4, with registration from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the registration desk on the upper level of the lodge. The "shred sesh" lasts from 7 to 8 p.m. Featuring distinct terrain park features - some imported from Europe, some manufactured by App's in-house welder - Fresh Friday is a free-to-enter jam session on a constantly evolving park setup. Unlike other competitions, entrants hit the park setup as many times as they want and in any order they want; awards are based on standout performances during the session, and there is no first, second or third place.
The final competition in the Edge of the World Boardercross/Skiercross Series takes place at Ski Beech this Sunday, March 6. The last of five competitions, this Sunday's event will produce the winners of each category, skiers and snowboarders, and will begin with registration in Group Sales between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. Cost to participate is $15 per person, and lift tickets are not included. An on-hill meeting takes place at 12:30 p.m., and the races begin at 1 p.m. For more information, call 1-800-SUX-EDGE.
Go play in the snow.
March 4-Fresh Friday 4, Appalachian Ski Mountain
March 4-March Madness Begins, Hawksnest Resort
March 5-Boss Hawg Concert, 4 to 6 p.m., Sugar Mountain Resort
March 6-Boardercross Series Race, Beech Mountain Resort
March 6-Sugar Bear's Birthday Celebration, Sugar Mountain Resort
March 6-Richard T. Trundy Memorial Sugar Cup Competition, Sugar Mountain Resort
March 7-March Madness Begins, Sugar Mountain Resort
March 7-Spring Fever Blowout Rates Begin, Beech Mountain Resort
March 13-Recess Wreck Less Rail Jam, Appalachian Ski Mountain
March 14-Late Season Rates Begin, Appalachian Ski Mountain
March 19-Boss Hawg Concert, 4 to 6 p.m., Sugar Mountain Resort
March 19-Shred for the Cup Slopestyle Finals, Appalachian Ski Mountain
March 20-Easter Egg Hunt, Sugar Mountain Resort
March 26 and 27-Meltdown Games, Appalachian Ski Mountain
April 1-Spring Rates Begin, Hawksnest Resort
Last day of the season-Boss Hawg Concert, 4 to 6 p.m., Sugar Mountain Resort