Southern Snow Scene
Sometimes it's fun to act like a tourist in your own town.
Last week, in the still ample snow that unfortunately paled in comparison to the powder pounding we were promised, my friends and I actually made good on an idea from a great many years ago. In anticipation of the big snow, and more giddy than you'd want to imagine, we booked a last minute slopeside roundhouse (ski-to home, mushroom house, whatever you want to call it) for two evenings, carefully planning out our arrival and departure around the impending low-pressure system.
Our plan was simple; so much so that we were angered that it had not been acted on sooner ... not once during all those years. An evening ski session just as the storm sets in; then a night of good food, friends and healthy ribbing and joking in preparation for the day yet to come; a pounding of fresh snow; a sunrise ski run from the porch of our roundhouse; first tracks for all; a full, uninterrupted day at the slopes; another night of camaraderie, this time with sore muscles; plenty of stories to go around; and another night of sleep by the slopes.
Acting like tourists in our own town.
As the snow forecast melted away, we stood solid, urged on by excitement for the thrills of an epic ski vacation in our own backyard, as well as by the affordable rental rate of two nights post-MLK Weekend. And the snow came - large, puffy flakes - spread out over the 1.5 days. Not as much as we had hoped for, of course, but enough. Enough to poach some backcountry, if one does that, which is dangerous and not recommended.
The trip was an overwhelming success, and more friends were able to take part because of the close proximity. I felt worlds away - a much-needed respite - and I was only 15 miles from my permanent residence.
You should try it.
The High Country is home to a host of slopeside accommodations, and I guarantee you that rental rates are extremely affordable these days, so go grab some friends, coordinate some time off or pick a weekend and make some memories at the world-class ski resorts in your own backyard.
It's fun (and much cheaper) to act like a tourist in your own town.
Go play in the snow.
Around the Slopes...
According to the North Carolina Ski Areas Association, as of Tuesday, Feb. 1, Appalachian Ski Mountain and Appalachian Terrain Park sit with 77- to 109-inch bases, with 12-of-12 slopes open; Sugar Mountain Resort is reporting a 46- to 105-inch base, with 20-of-20 slopes open; and Ski Beech at Beech Mountain Resort is advertising a 50- to 90-inch base, with 15-of-15 slopes open.
Ice skating is currently open, and night sessions are available at all three resorts, and tubing is available at Sugar Mountain Resort. Ski Beech has temporarily closed its tubing operation; Hawksnest Resort will reopen this Thursday, Feb. 3, for tubing, after closing for a few days on account of rain.
This Saturday, Feb. 5, Appalachian Ski Mountain begins its popular Shred for the Cup Series. For its fifth season, the series will begin with a Big Air competition on Feb. 5, continue with a Rail Jam on Feb. 27 and then conclude with Slopestyle Finals on March 19. As always, Shred for the Cup is open to skiers and snowboarders of all ages and ability, but each sport will be judged separately among three categories of participants: Beginner, intermediate and advanced, for both men and women.
Click to http://www.appskimtn.com for descriptions of each ability category. In addition to individual event winners and participant prizes, points will be tallied throughout the three events to decide the entire series winners in each category. Those winners will win the coveted award "cup."
This weekend, Sugar will host a live concert by Boss Hawg and a gathering for the Spartanburg Ski Club on Saturday, Feb. 5, followed by a High Country Junior Race Series competition on Sunday, Feb. 6.
The next event in the Edge of the World Boardercross Series takes place this Sunday, Feb. 6, atop Ski Beech. Like Jan. 23's competition, Feb. 6's event is open to both skiers and snowboarders. To take part, register in Group Sales between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m.; an on-hill pre-race meeting takes place at 12:30 p.m. and the race begins at 1 p.m. The entry fee is $15, and contestants may preregister at Edge of the World in Banner Elk, or on the day of the event. The series continues on Feb. 13 and concludes March 6. For more information, call 1-800-SUX-EDGE.
And mark your calendar for the following weekend, Feb. 11 to 13, when Ski Beech hosts College Fest Weekend, which will feature three-days of live music, karaoke, equipment demos from top manufacturers and free shuttle rides to local destinations. More information will be included in next week's column.
Hawksnest Resort closed its snow-tubing operation midweek on account of rain in the forecast, according to employee Lindsey Carter. "We're keeping an eye on the weather - it's pretty nasty out there right now," she said on Tuesday. "But Thursday (Feb. 3) looks beautiful, so we'll hopefully be open by then."
When Hawksnest does reopen, Carter said 20 snow-tubing lanes will be available to guests.
Go play in the snow.
Every Friday and Saturday in February-Midnight Blast, Appalachian Ski Mountain
Feb. 5-Shred for the Cup Big Air Competition, Appalachian Ski Mountain
Feb. 5-Boss Hawg Concert, 4 to 6 p.m., Sugar Mountain Resort
Feb. 5-Spartanburg Ski Club NASTAR, Sugar Mountain Resort
Feb. 6-High Country Junior Race Series Giant Slalom, Sugar Mountain Resort
Feb. 11-Fresh Friday 3, Appalachian Ski Mountain
Feb. 11 to 13-College Fest Weekend, Beech Mountain Resort
Feb. 12 and 13-USSA Slalom and Giant Slalom Competition, Sugar Mountain Resort
Feb. 19-Boss Hawg Concert, 4 to 6 p.m., Sugar Mountain Resort
Feb. 26-Ladies Park Night, Appalachian Ski Mountain
Feb. 26-Third Rail Jam, Beech Mountain Resort
Feb. 26 and 27-Crescent Ski Council Competition, Sugar Mountain Resort
Feb. 27-Shred for the Cup Rail Jam Competition, Appalachian Ski Mountain
March 4-Fresh Friday 4, Appalachian Ski Mountain
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 13-Recess Wreck Less Rail Jam, Appalachian Ski Mountain
March 18-March Madness Begins, Hawksnest Resort
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