Nary a Dull Moment
Slightly discouraged at the mild temperatures in the forecast - temps should reach above 60 degrees by this Friday - I trolled through seven years of ski columns to find average snow base depths for this point in the season. With the lowest average bases found in season 2005-06 and the highest found in season 2009-10, base depths average 26 to 76 inches during the third week in February in the High Country.
Compare that average with current bases that range from 44 to 116 inches - both Appalachian Ski Mountain and Sugar Mountain Resort feature base depths well in excess of 100 inches - and you have a pleasant reminder that winter 2010-11 has been good to the local snowsport community.
And winter 2010-11 continues. Per the plethora of events detailed below, there is nary a dull moment during the next two months, so temper any discouragement about the weather and make the most of what's left of one of the most snow-significant winters in recent memory.
Go play in the snow.
Around the Slopes...
As of press time, Appalachian Terrain Park and Appalachian Ski Mountain sit with 72- to 116-inch bases, with 12-of-12 slopes open and five-of-six lifts open; Sugar Mountain Resort is reporting a 49- to 105-inch base, with 15-of-20 slopes open and 11-of-11 lifts open; and Ski Beech at Beech Mountain Resort boasts a 44- to 84-inch base, with 14-of-15 slopes open and four-of-eight lifts open.
Night sessions are available, ice skating rinks are open at all three resorts, and snow tubing is available at Sugar Mountain Resort and Hawksnest Resort. The tubing operation at Ski Beech is currently closed. Ziplining is also available at Hawksnest Resort.
On Saturday, Feb. 26, the annual Under Armour Third Rail Jam comes to Ski Beech at Beech Mountain Resort. According to Ski Beech marketing director Talia Freeman, the event will include a rail jam competition, which features divisions for skiers and snowboarders, men and women and adults and juniors. The competition will begin at 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 26, with registration offered between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The format is winner takes all, meaning the top finisher will take home all of the entry monies.
Third Rail's nonprofit partner for 2011 is Amped4aCure, and $5 of all registration fees will go to the organization that uses music to support cancer research.
The Third Rail Jam also includes live DJ sets on the snow, on-snow graffiti art, a freestyle MC bunker battle and an after party beginning at 8:30 p.m. in the Beech Tree Bar & Grille. The after party will feature live sets from DJ Image and DJ Dolamarx, and the cost is $5 per person, ladies enter free. For more information, click to http://www.skibeech.com.
In a little over one week, beginning at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 26, Appalachian Ski Mountain will host its second Ladies Park Night of the 2010-11 season. On these nights, Appalachian Terrain Park staff constructs a terrain park area with features specifically designed for learning and progression that will be open to females only. Women of all ages and abilities, skiers and snowboarders, are encouraged to attend; participation is free with the purchase of a lift ticket. The session on Feb. 26 will feature a flexible, open format, and Appalachian Terrain Park Trick Tip Advisors will be onsite to provide instruction to participants - from how to hit a jump properly to how to slide on a box to how to land a trick, etc. At the end of the night, prizes will be raffled off to guests.
The next day, beginning at 9 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 27, Appalachian Ski Mountain will host the second part of the three-event Shred for the Cup Series, a rail jam. Registration is $20 in advance and $25 on the day of the event. Included in the cost is entry into the competition and park, a meal and a Shred for the Cup T-shirt. Competitors must buy their own lift tickets. The competition is open to participants of all ages, men and women. Shred for the Cup will conclude with slopestyle finals on Saturday, March 19.
This Saturday, Feb. 19, Boss Hawg will bring its High Country bluegrass pickin' to Sugar Mountain Resort's deck from 4 to 6 p.m.
Sugar's Spyder 2012 Sample Sale begins Thursday, Feb. 24, when the entire Spyder 2012 sample line is discounted by 50 percent off retail price. What's more, any remaining 2011 gear will be slashed by 60 percent, offering an inexpensive option to get re-outfitted for next season.
Amid deep snow comes deep discounts, as March Madness rates at Sugar Mountain Resort debut Monday, March 7. Stretching from March 7 until the end of the season, customers save 25 percent on lift tickets, rental equipment and lessons during the promotion. What's more, Sugar's Winter Value Packages are slashed by 40 percent.
On Sunday, March 6, Sugar will celebrate the life of the late Dick Trundy, a decorated Marine Corps General and aviator who served as Sugar Mountain's director of operations after his retirement from the service. The Dick Trundy Sugar Cup Giant Slalom competition is a NASTAR style competition open to skiers and snowboarders from the ages of four 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.
March 6 also marks Sugar Bear's Birthday Celebration, another annual event that adds to the magic of the spring ski season at Sugar Mountain. Activities include the Great Bear Race, a magic show, special treats and cupcakes and ice cream. "Kids love this event and that always puts a smile on the adults, too," said Kim Jochl, Sugar Mountain Resort marketing director. "Please, no presents. Your presence is the ultimate gift on Sugar Bear's special day."
On Sunday, March 20, Sugar Mountain hosts the 5th annual Easter Egg Hunt right on the slopes.
Dress up in your Easter Best and join Sugar Bear and Sweetie Bear in the snow in search of prize-filled eggs. Hundreds of colorful plastic eggs will be tucked away over the Lower Flying Mile slope within view of the lodge. One lucky skier or snowboarder will find the egg containing a 2011-12 Sugar Mountain season pass; another egg will hold $100 Scott gift card. The Easter Egg Hunt is free for all children 12 and under with a valid lift ticket. The event begins at 9 a.m. at the bottom of the No. 1 Summit lift.
The Sugar Mountain Snowboard Team (SMST) had another busy weekend, attending the Edge of the World Breast Cancer Fundraiser Competition atop Beech Mountain on Saturday, Feb. 12, and the Edge of the World Boardercross at Beech on Sunday, Feb. 13.
Saturday's event was a slopestyle contest, with advanced terrain park features, including a 35-foot jump. SMST member Duncan Nielander took home first place in the competition, wowing judges with a 180 off the battle ship and a huge tail grab off the 35-foot jump.
Three SMST members entered Sunday's competition, with Nielander placing second, Felix Chamielec placing fourth and Emma Balbier placing first in the female category.
High winds claimed Valentine's Day tubing sessions at Hawksnest Resort, but the largest snow-tubing operation on the East Coast reopened Tuesday, Feb. 15, with 20 tubing lanes available to guests.
Holiday rates will be in effect at Hawksnest this Saturday, Sunday and Monday, Feb. 19, 20 and 21, which run $32 for 1.75-hour tubing sessions. The sessions will be offered at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Holiday rates will continue this month on Feb. 26; otherwise, snow-tubing rates are $24 per session Monday through Friday, and $32 on Sundays.
And remember: zipline tours are currently available at Hawksnest Resort. Admirably, the resort has offered ziplining all winter long, but up until now, the weather has been so cold that I have been hesitant to even bring up the option. With 50s - and even 60s - in the forecast for the coming week, it now seems less crazy.
Go play in the snow - and go ziplining!