- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 4, 2004

The offseason weather that has sent sailboats onto the Chesapeake and golfers onto area courses has had some effect on ski areas in the region but not much.

But thanks to their robust snowmaking systems and significant snowstorms in December, resorts have been able to hang onto most of their snow and keep most trails open. Tomorrow night cold temperatures are expected to blanket the region, allowing the snowguns to spew out snow nightly for the next week or so.

“The most [trails] we had open was 14 of 19. Now we’re down to 12 of 19,” Chris Black marketing coordinator at Whitetail, said Friday. “We had enough snow to hang on. We’ll be able to wait it out and start making snow [tomorrow night].”

According to Black, skiers and snowboarders flocked to the Mercersburg, Pa., resort during the holidays. “We had pretty good numbers,” said Black. “The people who came were able to have a really good time.”

Liberty Mountain Resort, Carroll Valley, Pa., didn’t lose too much snow to the weather.

“The fact that we had cold temperatures early and two natural snowstorms meant that we had no problem maintaining a base on our trails,” said Anne Weimer, marketing coordinator at Liberty. “We had some wonderful temperature inversions, where it was cold at the base. It was 24 degrees at the bottom of the mountain, 38 at the top. The cold socks in deep in the valleys. And we were able to make about 4 inches of snow in the base area over two days.”

In West Virginia, Canaan Valley Resort in Davis had a bit of a setback due to the weather, but it didn’t hamper skiing during the holiday period.

“We did lose a few trails, and we had some light rain,” said Canaan spokesman Bryan Brown. “The main trails are open, and we expect more snow toward the end of the week.”

The Canaan Valley — home to Canaan Valley Resort, Timberline Four Seasons Resort and White Grass Touring Center — has the advantage of altitude. The floor of the valley is around 3,000 feet while the tops of the mountains push close to 4,000. Weather patterns blow across the Great Lakes and deliver snow and cold temperatures to the West Virginia highlands.

Those more wintry conditions will start moving into the region tomorrow night, according the national weather forecasts.

“Everything changes Monday night,” said Weimer. “It’s a huge cold front coming in. Accuweather is telling us that it will be excellent snowmaking weather next week. Anything in the mid-to-high 20s is ideal for us.”

Weimer is expecting temperatures to drop to around 24 Monday night and 18 Tuesday night. During the day, the temperatures will be a comfortable 48 tomorrow and 32 Tuesday. Those temperature fluctuations give the resorts limited windows to make snow, generally in the early morning after the slopes have closed to skiing.

Winter Thing weekend — Military and other uniformed professionals will get discounts on lodging and ski packages during Winter Thing weekend Friday through next Sunday at Canaan Valley Resort. The package includes two nights’ lodging, two days of lift tickets, a welcome reception and Beech Club privileges (pool, fitness center, spa, saunas).

For those not in uniform, the weekend features activities for adults and children including a scavenger hunt, a cardboard and duct tape race, snow volleyball, snow flag football, on-snow races, games and crafts, music all day and night, and a children’s movie Saturday evening.

“This year Canaan has put its focus on adding things for the guests to do,” Brown said. “It’s part of the value-added movement in destination resorts. These events provide additional fun, and something to do other then ski or snowboard.” Contact: 800/622-4121; canaanresort.com.

Wisp honors heroes — Wisp at Deep Creek Mountain Resort, McHenry, Md., will have free skiing on Heroes Day this Friday for public safety and armed service personnel when a family member purchases a lift ticket for $10. A lift ticket for an unaccompanied service person is $10. Contact: 301/387-4911; skiwisp.com.

Snow Sports appears on Sundays in The Washington Times during the winter. Contact: bclapper@washingtontimes.com.

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