- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 24, 2002

Winter begins at Snowshoe Mountain Resort in West Virginia the day before Thanksgiving.
Rain last weekend "did a number on the snow we made, and we decided, after looking at the weather forecasts, to blast [snow] the heck out of the trails and open with a product everyone is proud of on the 27th," said Snowshoe spokesman Joe Stevens. Snowshoe planned to open last week.
Snowshoe's operations team restarted the snowguns last Sunday and they have been spewing snow at every opportunity. One night last week, the temperature dropped to 17 degrees and the snowmakers started stockpiling snow on the slopes. Four inches of natural snow helped. It's critical for snowmaking at Snowshoe and every other resort that temperatures fall into the teens.
"When temperatures are in the upper 20s, it doesn't matter how much firepower you have, the results are still marginal," Stevens said. "When temperatures drop into the mid- to low teens, that's when things get busy and we're producing 2,500 tons of snow an hour."
With temperatures in the teens, snowguns work at optimum efficiency and capacity. Snowmakers are able to build huge piles of snow that can be pushed around and distributed evenly over a slope or trail when the temperatures rise and snowmaking is curtailed.
For opening day, expect four skiable trails that make up one run from top to bottom at Snowshoe. The snow guns at Silver Creek, adjacent to Snowshoe, are also operating, and plans are for Silver Creek to open Friday, Dec.13. There is snow on the tubing hill, and a terrain park at Snowshoe has been prepared.
"Now don't be looking for a midseason type park on opening day, but we are going to have a few rails to play on. It should be fun," Stevens said.
Snowshoe's on-slope Demo/Winter Celebration is Dec.14-15. Ski and snowboard manufacturers plan to be at Snowshoe and will have new equipment available for test runs. Information: 877/441-4386; www.snowshoemtn.com.
Wisp fulfills girl's wish
Wisp at Deep Creek Mountain Resort, McHenry, Md., recently fulfilled a dream of Taylor Nicholson, a 7-year-old who is battling cancer. Her wish was to play in snow, and that became a reality Nov.8 when Taylor and her family, from Terra Alta, W.Va., rode down a snow-covered slope at Wisp on toboggans, snowboards and snow discs for more than an hour, Wisp staff members reported.
In July 2001, Taylor was diagnosed with childhood brain stem glioma cancer, a rare form more common in boys, according to a Wisp news release. One in 250,000 children develops the disease, which is inoperable and almost inevitably fatal. She participated in a clinical trial of new drugs and chemotherapy at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. In December, an MRI found no remaining traces of cancer.
But in April, the cancer reoccurred. Taylor is now on steroids and medication to keep fluid from accumulating in her lungs. Parents Ted and Tina Nicholson wanted to fulfill what may be Taylor's last wish.
"We sat and talked one night, and she [Taylor] asked about the holidays and when they are," Ted Nicholson said. "And she said she wanted to eat snow and sit in the snow."
Wisp officials were contacted and, without hesitation, turned on some 20 snowguns when the temperatures dropped below freezing and made enough snow on Wisp's beginner area to allow the on-snow party, and so a girl's wish came true.
Thanksgiving at Canaan
There's something to be thankful for if you spent Thanksgiving at Canaan Valley Resort, Davis W.Va. Everyone purchasing a Thanksgiving holiday package at Canaan will receive a free day lift ticket and regular ski equipment rental.
The package includes three nights' lodging, three breakfasts and Thanksgiving dinner for $129 per person. The package is good for any three-night stay from Nov.27 to Dec.1. Canaan plans to begin skiing and snowboarding Nov.29. Information: 800/622-4121; www.canaanresort.com.
The Homestead On "GMA"
Television viewers woke up to snowboarding at the Homestead, Hot Springs, Va., on Nov.11, when ABC's "Good Morning America" featured the resort as part of a special Virginia-themed program. Co-host Diane Sawyer and personality Alex Cambert participated in a snowboard lesson by the Homestead's mountain boarding instructor, Sabrina Young.
The program showcased a number of the resort's recreational activities including falconry, equestrian and the Jefferson Pools. On 15,000 acres in Virginia's Allegheny Mountains, the Homestead is a true luxury resort. It was founded in 1766 and is known for its "sporting playground" of outdoor activities including golf on three courses, hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails, spa programs, equestrian pursuits and shooting.
The ski area at the Homestead has nine trails. Snow tubing and ice-skating are also available at the resort. Information: 800/838-1766; www.thehomestead.com.
Snow Sports appears on Sundays in The Washington Times during the winter. Contact: [email protected]

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