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Snow Long, Farwell

By Sam Calhoun (sam.calhoun@averyjournal.com)



Article Published: Mar. 24, 2011 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Snow Long, Farwell

No matter how many new events are added to Appalachian Ski Mountain's Meltdown Games, the pond-skimming contest always garners the most spectators - for obvious reasons. App's Meltdown Games take place this Saturday and Sunday, March 26 and 27. Photo courtesy of Drew Stanley



Our endgame is upon us.

Thankful for the plentiful powder we received in early winter, and grateful for the sustainable temperatures and intermittent snowfalls we experienced late season, we, the snowsport faithful, could not have asked for a better template for a Southern snow scene.

"It was an amazing season," recounted Kim Jochl, Sugar Mountain Resort marketing director. "This was probably the second-best season ever - last year was the best."

Sugar Mountain Resort closed for the 2010-11 winter season at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 23, marking 126 skier days since opening on Nov. 6, 2010. For the winter prior, Sugar achieved 122 skier days and was open from Nov. 27, 2009, through March 28, 2010, taking advantage of 136 inches of natural snow on the season.

"But last year we had an awesome March - very snowy and cold," Jochl said. "This year, we had a little warmer March; it was rainier, less winter-like."

Winter 2010-11 brought roughly 130 inches of natural snow to Sugar Mountain Resort.

"We wish we could (stay open through) this Sunday, but the warm weather is here, and everyone is now in a different mindset," Jochl added.

"This winter was good to us. We were able to make quite a bit of snow and provide some great conditions," said Drew Stanley, Appalachian Terrain Park director, whose resort is still open and offering an 18- to 42-inch base, with nine of 12 slopes open and five of six lifts open.

App's snowmaking and great conditions have enabled the resort's snow base to last into spring, which means it's almost time for Appalachian to bid adieu to another successful season. To celebrate, the resort will host its annual Meltdown Games this Saturday and Sunday, March 26 and 27. "The Meltdown Games are a really fun way to wind down the season proper," Stanley said.

An annually popular event, the games include The Impossible Box Contest, Cardboard Box Derby, ski and snowboard Big Air and Trash Bag Downhill Race on Saturday, and the K2 Pop This! High Ollie Contest, Pond Skim and Chinese Downhill on Sunday.

"Over the years, we have sort of seen what (Meltdown Games events) have done well, and we're bringing those back - the pond skimming contest is hugely popular," Stanley said.

All Meltdown Games' events are free to enter with the purchase of a lift ticket, and, according to Stanley, "tons of prizes" are waiting to be dished out to attendees. The games are also spectator friendly, so if you have given up on winter there is still a chance to laugh at the ones who haven't.

Stanley said Appalachian's entire season of events has gone well, with record attendance for Shred for the Cup, Ladies Park Nights and Fresh Fridays. "We even attracted more sponsor interest this year," he added.

One of those sponsors is K2, which is sponsoring the Meltdown Games' High Ollie Contest this Sunday. According to Stanley, K2 is providing "a bunch of snowboard gear" for prize giveaways this weekend, as well as bringing an ollie contraption that will be used in the friendly competition.

Appalachian's 2010-11 season is slated to end at 5 p.m. this Sunday, March 27, directly following the games. For more information, click to http://www.appskimtn.com/2011/03/meltdown-games/.

Ski Beech at Beech Mountain Resort officially closed for the 2010-11 winter season on Sunday, March 13, after 100 days in operation.

Hawksnest Resort, the largest snow-tubing operation on the East Coast, officially closed for the 2010-11 winter season on Thursday, March 17. Hawksnest now turns its attention to daily zipline tours, which cost $75 per person for a 10-cable tour, offered at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Reservations are required for ziplining and can be made by calling (828) 963-6561. Tours last between 1.5 and two hours.

If you find yourself missing Sugar and Beech this summer, trade in the skis for a mountain bike and enjoy the many miles of trails that are accessible and available on each mountain.

Starting in May, Sugar Mountain Resort's mountain biking trail system opens to guests. Miles and miles of trails await the intrepid, weaving through the Village of Sugar Mountain up to the slopes. Daily trail access is free of charge from dawn to dusk through Oct. 16. Trail maps are available by clicking to http://www.skisugar.com/summer or in a black, marked mailbox located at the base of Sugar Mountain's Flying Mile slope.

Gaining popularity two years ago, Beech Mountain Resort's mountain biking trail is situated in a picturesque setting, located between the White Lightning and Southern Star ski slopes. For more information on where to find a trail map, click to http://www.skibeech.com.

Go play in the snow - and if not, go mountain biking or ziplining.

Thanks for a great winter! Here's to the future!

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