Early Opening for Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia Resorts

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Early Opening for Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia Resorts

Early snowfall, along with state-of-the-art snowmaking equipment, will allow many North American ski resorts to be up and running for the Thanksgiving Weekend this year. Among resorts opening early are Boston Mills Ski Resort and Mad River Mountain in Ohio; Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort and Timberline Four Seasons Resort in West Virginia; and Crystal Mountain and Mount Brighton Ski Resort in Michigan.

Mount Brighton had already opened one lift servicing three runs and as many terrain park features on Monday, with discounted lift ticket prices for snow skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts. Mount Brighton Ski Resort GM Taylor Ogilvie noted in an interview that the ski area will continue with special pricing in the week as more runs open up. Skiers may want to take advantage of these early-bird specials, as once the resort is running at full steam for the season, prices will revert to standard rates. A new lift and additional snowmaking equipment are part of the investment Vail Resorts has made since acquiring Mount Brighton in December 2012. The lodge at Mount Brighton has been renovated and, thanks to snowmaking equipment, natural snow supplements manufactured snow, rather than the other way around. Mount Brighton will be open on Thanksgiving Day from 10am to 3pm, allowing for ski enthusiasts to get in some time on the slopes and still enjoy Thanksgiving dinner.

In Ohio, the Boston Mills Ski Resort will be starting up its lifts at 3:30pm on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Considering the weather patterns over the past few years, which delayed opening due to warm temperatures and lack of snow, this early opening is stirring up excitement among staff and skiers alike. Product manager at Boston Mills, Steve Mackle, noted that the resort has been making snow all week and is planning for a bumper opening, regardless of natural snowfall. Boston Mills is a great snow tubing venue for snow-sport fans of all ages – no skill or experience required.

In West Virginia, Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort opened Wednesday, with Timberline four Seasons Resort sticking to its plans to open December 12, followed by Winterplace Ski Resort and Canaan Valley on December 14. These days may change if the area receives sufficient snowfall.

Northern Michigan’s Crystal Mountain Ski Resort is planning a Thanksgiving Day opening for the first time in many years. Public relations manager at Crystal Mountain, Tom Kramer, noted that relying on Mother Nature to supply all the snow for the resort is not an option anymore and snow-guns have been working virtually nonstop for a week to provide coverage, while temperatures continue to be low enough for the snow cover to last. The resort’s new winch cat has been pushing loads of snow uphill to areas that were once out of reach for grooming.

Certainly, snow sport enthusiasts have much to look forward to this coming holiday weekend, and hopefully for the remainder of the 2013/2014 season.

2013-14 Ski Season Unaffected by Shutdown

With the US government shutdown dragging on, skiers may be left wondering whether their favorite US snow sport destinations, many of which are on federal land regulated by the US Forest Service, may be affected. Spokesperson for the National Ski Areas Association, Michael Berry, noted in a recent interview that the shutdown would not have a major impact on the upcoming ski season. He went on to explain that most construction and expansion projects that required approval from the federal government have already been completed in preparation for the start of the season. Projects in the pipeline at various ski areas may face delays, but would not prevent snow sport activities from carrying on as usual in the 2013-14 season.

Of the 350 ski areas represented by the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), 121 are on federal land under lease agreements. The federal government monitors expansion projects and their impact on the environment in a process that is subject to public review. The NSAA reportedly sent a memo out to these ski areas stating that, as the improvements are not government owned, they can continue to operate.

Utah’s Snowbasin and Alta have made it known that it will be business as usual as the ski areas open for the 2013-2014 season and this was backed-up by the National Ski Areas Association’s director of public policy, Geraldine Link. She did note, however, that should the shutdown continue it may impact future plans that require National Environmental Policy Act reviews and approvals.

Meanwhile, snowfall in Colorado may see resorts in this area being the first to start the season. Marketing director for Loveland Ski Area assured skiers that once the lifts are on at the resort, the season will continue through to May. Arapahoe’s communications director, Adrienne Saia Isaac, agreed with this viewpoint. Two years ago, Colorado’s Wolf Creek Ski Area was the first Colorado resort to open, and this year the honor went to Arapahoe Basin which opened to hundreds of visitors on Sunday October 13, 2013.

Echo Mountain to Become Ski Training Center

Located west of Denver, the Echo Mountain ski area was recently sold at an auction to a company that plans to turn it into a ski training center. The new owner of the ski area is Pykkonen Capital LLC and the motivating factor behind the purchase was to provide a place primarily for school-aged young people to develop their competitive skiing skills. The resort will become the new home for the Front Range Ski Club, with changes being put in place as early as November to be ready for the upcoming ski season. Echo Mountain had a decent amount of snow in the past skiing season unlike some North American resorts, and the fact that it lies entirely on private land will give the new owners free rein to make changes to suit their needs.

In a published interview, Nora Pykkonen revealed that she had been considering moving her family to Vail to give her children more time on the snow. That idea was discarded in favor of buying the 226-acre Echo Mountain ski area and turning it into a place where her children could spend as much time as they needed to develop their skiing skills – and there will be top-tier coaches on hand to train them and other keen young skiers, including World Cup skiers Petter Brenna, Sarah Schleper-Gaxiola, Mike Farny and Patrik Järbyn.

Echo Mountain will be set up with stations focusing on specific skills, such as jump starts and sliding. On the completion of their run, skiers will have the opportunity to review their form on video, taking note of where there is room for improvement. Surface lifts will speedily take skiers to their starting points ensuring that every moment counts while training.

Pykkonen reportedly plans on investing $5 million in Echo Mountain in the coming seasons, with the possibility of developing beyond the current 80 acres of skiable terrain to deliver up to 1,500 vertical feet of skiing. Other plans include building a Super G course and a mogul lane, as well as a new restaurant. Snowmaking guns will supplement snowfall where necessary, and a shuttle system is envisioned to assist students across the metro area to get to the slopes.

Previous owner of Echo Mountain, Jerry Pettit, noted that this new development will be an interesting opportunity for young skiers and he hoped in the future to hear of an Olympic skier coming out of Echo Mountain.

2012 Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame Inductees

Founded in 1976, the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum strives to maintain the legacy of snow sports in the region, specifically by preserving the history of the 10th Mountain Division which was the foundation upon which Colorado’s skiing community was built. The museum also maintains a comprehensive Olympics collection symbolizing the spirit and camaraderie of the snow sport community, and honors achievers by means of the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame.

To qualify for the Hall of Fame, nominees must have made a significant contribution to the sport and industry of either snow skiing or snowboarding in Colorado. The accomplishments of individual nominees must have had a tangible benefit to Colorado, and have enhanced the image of Colorado as a source of skiing and snowboarding innovation. Hall of Fame inductees are voted in by eligible voting panel members.

After careful consideration, the 2012 inductees to the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame were chosen, and are: Bill Bergman, Toby Dawson, Tom Jankovsky, Jerry Gart, John Meyer, Ralph Walton and Paul Testwuide. Bill Bergman is credited with laying the groundwork of resort management – including designing environmentally-friendly trails and initiating snowmaking measures – that are currently practiced in leading resorts. He is considered to be the driving force behind turning skiing into a corporate enterprise.

2006 Olympic bronze medalist freestyle skiing champion Toby Dawson joins Hall of Fame inductees. Among his achievements are 7 World Cup titles and 17 podium finishes during his time with the US Ski Team. South Korean by birth, Dawson is currently the South Korean National Ski Team Coach and helped with that country’s winning bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. As the marketing director for Ski Industries of America, Jerry Gart has played a major role in bringing affordable ski equipment to the residents of Colorado. He founded the Colorado Ski Country USA Ski Lift Program and established Denver/Post Gart Bros. Ski School.

Tom Jankovsky has worked as the General Manager of Sunlight Mountain Resort and has been on the Colorado Ski Country USA Board of Trustees. John Meyer has enjoyed a 25-year career writing for the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post, and has been recognized as “America’s Ski Writer” as well as being the dean of Olympic journalists in America. Paul Testquide started as a trail crew member back in 1963 and worked his way up to Vail’s Chief Operating Officer. He secured the water rights needed to facilitate snowmaking and managed the sustainable development of Blue Sky Basin, and the rebuild of Two Elks destroyed by arson. Ralph Walton bought Crested Butte Mountain Resort in 1970 and turned it around from bankruptcy to success. Among his achievements are being on the Board of Directors for Colorado Ski Country USA and receiving the Lifetime Achievement Awards from the NSAA. Certainly, these snow sport enthusiasts are all worthy recipients of being honored alongside existing Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum Hall of Fame athletes and innovators.

Pennsylvania Ski and Winter Sports Museum and Hall of Fame

The Pennsylvania Ski and Winter Sports Museum and Hall of Fame is located in Camelback Ski Area’s base lodge, with additional exhibits in the museum’s Liberty Mountain Annex. In 1994 Alex Bensinger and Alber Dowden headed a group in forming this education organization that is committed to preserving the state’s skiing and winter sport heritage.

The museum’s collection at Camelback in Tannersville includes displays entitled “One Hundred Years of Ski Equipment”, “History of Sledding”, “One Hundred Years of Pocono Winter Sports” and the Hall of Fame. Amongst the items on display are skis, equipment, clothing, sleds, ice skates, posters, biographies, memorabilia and photographs. Organizations that have collaborated with the museum to create a place where the public can learn about winter sports include the United States Ski and Snowboard Association, American Association of Museums and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

The Hall of Fame, also located at Camelback Ski Area, has been in operation since 2002 and has inducted about 50 individuals who have made contributions to snow sports in Pennsylvania, countrywide or internationally. These individuals are honored at the annual Hall of Fame ceremonies and then their names are added to the permanent exhibit. Amongst the Hall of Famers are Howard head, inventor of the metal ski and S.L. Adams, creator of the Flexible Flyer. Founders of various ski resorts have also been inducted, including James Moore (Camelback), Martin Wilburger (Elk Mountain), Dupre Family (Seven Springs) and Irvin Naylor (Roundtop).Others who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame include veterans of the 10th Mountain Division from World War II, National Ski Patrol volunteers, ski retailers, racing officials and ski instructors.

The Pennsylvania Ski and Winter Sports Museum’s Liberty Mountain Annex is situated at Liberty Mountain Resort and Conference Center in Fairfield. This supplement to the main exhibits at Camelback was opened in December of 2007. This museum contains a number of items related to the history of winter sports, particularly those related to Liberty Mountain. There are also plans to expand to other ski areas, opening up small museums across Pennsylvania. Be sure to pay a visit to the Pennsylvania Ski and Winter Sports Museum and Hall of Fame when skiing in the area, as there is much to discover.

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