- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 21, 2004

SNOWSHOE, W.Va. — Zipping through the hummocks pocking the final reaches of Cupp Run, I felt the rush — that body-suffusing glow of well-being that comes when all is right with the world.

Zen of skiing? Becoming one with the snow? Feeling that West Virginia mountain high? Didn’t matter. No need to label or categorize, just revel in the moment.

The day was sunny and crisp. The snow was firm and slick. The skis, boots and legs worked in harmony, responding to every nudge of my ankles and lean of my body. I wasn’t making turns so much as I was playing with the rhythm that came from the drops and rises of the slope spread out before me. The Atomic cruising skis were following their own path, saving me from making mind-cluttering navigational decisions.

It was near midday, and I was fast approaching the end of my final run of the weekend at Snowshoe Mountain Resort. In less then an hour, I would be navigating another serpentine course, that of the mountain roads leading eastward, away from Snowshoe toward sea level and home.

I had come to Snowshoe this mid-March weekend to do some “product sampling” of the snow conditions and determine how many more weeks were left in the season. Snowshoe, as the first area to open in the fall and last to close in the spring, is the bellwether of how the ski season plays out in the region.

My information was confirmed. With the snow already in place and more cold weather and snow on the way, Snowshoe will have clear skiing until its announced closing on Easter Sunday, April11.

“Spring officially arrived yesterday, but take a look around and you’ll see there is plenty of winter everywhere,” said Snowshoe marketing director Joe Stevens. “The conditions are tremendous with last week’s 23 inches of natural snow and seven nights of snowmaking. We’re ready for spring skiing.”

With the snow-laden clouds blowing in from the Great Lakes, Snowshoe can expect to meet or exceed its seasonal average of 180 inches of snow. And with nighttime temperatures dipping into the 20s, Snowshoe will be making snow and moving it around to cover worn areas. The snow depth fluctuates between 4 to 6 feet on the mountain.

Today is the last weekend of skiing and snowboarding for Snowshoe’s Silver Creek section, but not because of thin snow cover. The dwindling number of people skiing and snowboarding at the area do not justify its remaining open. The main Snowshoe area and the Western Territory will be open through April11.

Through the end of the season, Snowshoe is offering a number of package deals ranging from weekend specials (two-day lodging and lift tickets) from $129 to $225 a person. Midweek deals include a one-night package from $84 and two nights/two days starting at $99.

After the tremendous conditions, open terrain and attractive lodging packages, Snowshoe’s biggest spring attribute is the smaller crowds compared to mid-winter turnouts. During my visit, I marveled at the short lift lines (sometimes non-existent), the few people on the slopes and uncrowded restaurants and bars.

Spring is a time of renewal, and I’ve found Snowshoe is one place where the spirit is revived. All in all, it was a weekend well spent. For information about Snowshoe and its spring packages, contact 877/441-4386; snowshoemtn.com.

Telemark at Timberline — Telemark skiers who want to improve technique on bumps, crud or in races can enroll in the Spring Telemark Workshop at Timberline Four Seasons Resort, Davis, W.Va., on Saturday. The workshop is open to all levels of telemark skiers. Registration is 8 a.m. and the on-snow workshop will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Telemark equipment can be rented at Timberline.

Cost for the workshop is $65, and participants will be able to purchase discounted lift tickets for $30. Contact: 800/766-9464, snow phone 304/866-4828; timberlineresort.com.

Life’s a beach — Snowshoe attempts to capture the spirit of a seaside resort when it has its Mountaintop Beach Party and Music Festival, Friday through Sunday. The festival is a celebration of beach music and sunny spring weather. Featured activities and events include music, on-slope games, an inflatable raft race on the snow, the Mountain Top Bikini and Best Buns Contest, fireworks and a performance by the Drifters. Contact: 877/441-4386; snowshoemtn.com.

Big Blowout at Winterplace — Winterplace, Ghent/Flat Top, W.Va., will have its Big Blowout Party Saturday and Sunday. Games, music, volleyball and family-oriented activities will celebrate the last days of skiing. Contact: 800/607-7669, snow phone 800/258-3127.

Meltdown at Seven Springs — A Meltdown Party and pond skimming are scheduled at Seven Springs Resort, Champion, Pa., on Saturday, April 3. Adult fun and games are featured. Contact: 814/352-7777, 800/452-2223; 7springs.com.

Blue Knob passes — Season passes for next winter are available until March31 at Blue Knob, Claysburg, Pa., starting at $249. Purchase of a 2004-05 pass means free skiing the rest of this season. Blue Knob has reduced its hours to from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily ands plans to stay open through next Sunday. The tubing park at Blue Knob is closed for the season. Contact: 814/239-5111; 800/458-3403; blueknob.com.

• Snow Sports appears Sundays in The Washington Times during the winter.

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