Remembering Stephen Farfour
To weeks ago, the High Country ski community lost a dear and respected friend.
Stephen Roth Farfour, 52, of Banner Elk passed away on Nov. 16, leaving behind his wife, Gina Bradshaw Farfour; his two daughters, Devon and Taylor; and a host of family and friends, many of which are the faces that have come to define and characterize the High Country community, specifically the Avery County community.
Though Steve had many interests, which included boating, tennis and golf, I best knew of his love for skiing. I skied with Steve for four years in the Sugar Mountain Adult Race League, and although we had many conversations over a beer after racing on cold January nights, I won't tell you right now that I knew the man well.
I knew Steve as an integral member of Team Banner Elk Cafe No. 1, and as a smiling face that brought a welcome cheer to competition. As a journalist, and as, by default, a people watcher, I absorbed Steve's love for our lifestyle - the ski lifestyle of the High Country. As we socialized post-race in Sugar's base lodge, everyone knew who Steve was, as he would jump from table to table socializing, joking and laughing with his people - our community.
Whereas some faces are so prevalent in the wintertime and then disappear during the other three seasons, Steve was a vibrant member of the local community year-round, forging relationships with anyone who stepped foot in Banner Elk.
Like the privileged few who work hard to make ends meet and carve out a life among these mountains of Appalachia, Steve found peace in the High Country. Whether it was gilding in his boat as the sun crested over a mountain lake or carving fresh tracks on the first ski run of the morning, Steve had unlocked the secret of the High Country: Find a way to stay.
Steve got his wish, and we all should find solace in that. For the man who loved boating, skiing and all types of outdoor sports was not relegated to a concrete jungle-he created a life among our mountains filled with family, friends, sports, love and a purpose. Who could ask for anything more?
In honor of Steve's memory, all friends, family and acquaintances are invited to take first tracks at Sugar Mountain Resort at 7:30 a.m. this Sunday, Dec. 5. Attendees are asked to meet at the bottom of the mountain at the ski lift, and Gunther Jochl has agreed to open the slopes for a memorial run in honor of Steve. Following the first tracks, attendees are invited to gather in the base lodge for a eulogy given by Jeff Johnson. Afterwards, family and friends will have time for fellowship and for sharing stories about Steve.
So go play in the snow this weekend - play in the snow for Steve.
Around the Slopes
By the time this column makes it to print, snowmaking weather will be prevalent in the High Country - a fitting occurrence for Steve's memorial weekend.
Last weekend at Appalachian Ski Mountain, general manager Brad Moretz said his staff was able to sneak in three nights of snowmaking before the early-week rains settled in. "And we've got an excellent snowmaking forecast coming up, starting Wednesday - I bet we can get in five nights of snowmaking," Moretz said.
Moretz is hoping to open his resort - for both day and night skiing and snowboarding - by this Friday, Dec. 3, just in time for Appalachian's 49th Anniversary Weekend. For the promotion, lift ticket prices will hearken back to opening day in 1962, when it cost just $5 to ski during the day. The $5 lift tickets only apply to App's 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. flex ticket because, as Moretz reminded, "there was no night skiing back in 1962."
The anniversary weekend promotion couples with another great deal: The first 100 skiers/snowboarders to come to Appalachian on opening day will receive free lift tickets. "I'm looking forward to the whole weekend," Moretz said.
Appalachian Terrain Park director Drew Stanley is also looking forward to opening weekend. "I'm optimistic that we'll open with quite a bit of terrain," he said, reminding local riders that the Rome Pre-Jib takes place at App this Sunday, Dec. 5. Sponsored by Rome Snowboards and Recess Ride Shop, the second annual Rome Pre-Jib is free to enter and features a host of prizes for the most talented shredders. The top male jibber will take home a Rome Artifact Snowboard, and the top female finisher will receive a pair of 2011 Rome Strut Bindings. What's more, the free competition falls on App's anniversary weekend, which means all competitors will only have to throw down for a $5 lift ticket to take part. And because Appalachian is introducing flex ticketing this season - meaning riders don't have to be off the mountain by 4 p.m. - the Rome Pre-Jib will start a bit later than usual: Registration takes place between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. in the lower level of the lodge, and the competition begins at 1 p.m. Happy jibbing, shredders.
"We're hoping to draw a good crowd," Stanley added.
Sugar Mountain Resort is currently open, providing great early-season conditions on Upper and Lower Flying Mile. Even though this week's rain may have taken a bit of a toll on Sugar's three- to 15-inch base, marketing director Kim Jochl said the precipitation was welcome as it helps refill Sugar's snowmaking reservoirs. That means this week's rain will transform into snow when Sugar makes a concerted effort to open a large portion of its terrain by this weekend.
"Yep, this rain is welcome because we need more water for snowmaking," Jochl said. "As soon as these temperatures drop, we're going to try and get open to the top for this weekend, and then concentrate on working on some beginner slopes, like Easy Street."
Ice skating at Sugar Mountain Resort is currently open.
Next weekend is Sugar Mountain Resort's SugarFest, which features a rare chance to skate with 1992 Olympic figure skating silver medalist Paul Wylie at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 12.
"I find it amazing to be so close to someone so talented," Jochl said. "And it's free to watch, so I hope people will come and experience it." For more information, click to http://seesugar.com/tourism/sugarfest.
Atop Beech Mountain, snowmaking has begun, according to Ski Beech general manager Ryan Costin. After making snow over the Thanksgiving weekend, Costin is hoping to blow some more of the white stuff starting late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning, positioning his mountain to open to guests by this Saturday, Dec. 4. "By Saturday, we should have everything ready to go," Costin said.
For this weekend, Ski Beech will only be open during the daytime and will charge weekday rates, as opposed to weekend rates.
Hawksnest Resort will also be open this weekend, both for snow tubing and ziplining. The resort will start the 2010-11 season this Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 4 and 5, offering snow tubing sessions at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday, and at 10 a.m., 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday. The cost for each session is $32.
Word to the wise, it's always smart to call ahead or check the website of each resort before you visit, especially early in the season.
Go play in the snow.
December through March-NASTAR Racing, Saturdays and Sundays at noon, Sugar Mountain Resort
Dec. 4-49th Anniversary Weekend, Appalachian Ski Mountain
Dec. 5-Rome Pre-Jib, Appalachian Ski Mountain
Dec. 10 to 12-Preseason Ski Clinic, Sugar Mountain Resort
Dec. 11-Boss Hawg Concert, 4 to 6 p.m., Sugar Mountain Resort
Dec. 11 and 12-SugarFest 2010, Sugar Mountain Resort
Dec. 11 to 24-Santa at Sugar, Sugar Mountain Resort
Dec. 17-Fresh Friday 1, Appalachian Ski Mountain
Dec. 20 to 31-Holiday Rates, Hawksnest Resort
Dec. 24-Skiing with Santa, Appalachian Ski Mountain
Dec. 24-Christmas Eve Service, Beech Tree Village, Beech Mountain Resort
Dec. 24 and 25-Special Tubing Sessions, Hawksnest Resort
Dec. 29 and 30-USSA Holiday Slalom and Giant Slalom Competition, Sugar Mountain Resort
Dec. 31-New Year's Eve Celebration, Beech Tree Bar & Grille, Beech Mountain Resort
Dec. 31-New Year's Celebration, Sugar Mountain Resort
Dec. 31-New Year's Eve Extravaganza, Appalachian Ski Mountain