BIG AIR AT SNOWSHOE

The drive from Washington, D.C. to Snowshoe is always interesting. It’s superhighway for 1/2 the trip and winding secondary roads through the mountains of Virginia and West Virginia for the rest. The scenery is beautiful and they really mean it when the post the speed limit at 15 MPH going around a hairpin turn. I was psyched, they had received a lot of snow and it was shaping up to be a great weekend of fun on the slopes.

 

Snowshoe has an elevation of 4,848′ and a 1,500′ vertical. It is the BIGGEST and BEST ski area in the Middle Atlantic States and great destination ski area, with all the amenities (hotels, bars, restaurants, shops) located at the resort. There are 57 trails and 14 lifts. They have night skiing and snowmaking over 100% of the skiable terrain.

 

When I arrived, I wasn’t disappointed. Over 90% of the mountain was open and I was anxious to sample the snow at this upside down mountain (the base lodge is at the TOP of the mountain). The sun was shining and it was a glorious day. I spent the early morning checking out intermediate trails like Skip Jack, Ball Hooter, Spruce and the other connecting trails down the main mountain. By midmorning I decided to check out the expert runs off the Western Express. They were having a demo-day, so I decided to try a new pair of skis. I selected a pair of Fisher Race Carve skis in a 176cm length as my choice for the expert trails and headed over to Cup Run and Shey’s Revenge. The Fishers were a good choice. They were really well tuned, fast from edge to edge and very stable at speed. These skis were able to hold on the few spots that I found that were a little skied off and were as nice a ski as I have had the pleasure to ski on. I would rate them **** and in the category as the Vokl P40 Platinum, along with the Blizzard e-racers I ski on.

 

The conditions were excellent. I tired myself out running up and down the mountain. After a few runs, I decided to return the demos and get a little lunch. I met a lovely blonde lady from Alexandria, Virginia. The women are very friendly at Snowshoe and it is pretty easy to meet people and make friends there.

 

Snowshoe had changed a bit in the two years since I last visited this resort and there were new restaurants and shops. I had lunch at the Foxfire Grill located in the Rimefire lodge and the food was excellent. After a light lunch consisting of soup and a salad, I headed over to the Big Air competition on Spruce Glades.

 

There were skiers and snowboarders competing in this areal slug-feast, along with one guy on snowblades. It was an awesome event . I arrived just as the meat wagon was hauling away a dude that crashed and burned. I got a good spot right next to the jump and began shooting. I got a lot of great shots of snowboard dudes careening through the air. I caught a few excellent shots of skiers doing their stuff in the air but most of the action was snowboarders going huge. There were little kids taking BIG hits of the jump, as well as cute chicks and cool shredder-dudes. The Snowshoe Rabbit even showed up.

The competitors were scored on best two out of three jumps on a 1 to 10 scale for difficulty, magnitude, and landing, with a maximum score of 30.

For the skiers, Travis McKay was 1st with 43 points, Jeramiah Keesling 2nd with 39 points with a field of only two jumpers.

There were a number of categories for the snowboarder big air competitors. For the 13 and Under Boys, it was Jarod Minghini who took the gold with 49 points, Clay Bell took the silver with 47 points and Alex Hamrick the bronze. The next category was the 14-17 Year-Old Boys, it was T.J. Nine in 1st with 52 points, Adam Cumashot with 51 in 2nd and Bobby Minghini in 3rd with 48 points. In the 14-17 Year-Old Girl class, Whitney McVey, the 1999 Big Air overall champ won with 42 points. There were no other competitors. The 18-21 Year-Old Men was won by Chris Wood with 50 point, Pat Cumashot in 2nd place with 49 points and Ryan Dobbins in 3rd with 46 points. For the 18-21 Year Old Women, Rashida Hussein came in 1st with 46 points, Jamie Keith 2nd and Jessica Urbano in 3rd. In the 22 & Up Men it was Shawn Batzer, the returning champ who took 1st with 53 points, Phil Swanson 2nd with 48 points and Dan Mazer 3rd with a score of 45. For the 22 & Up Women, Katherine Hayes took home the gold with a score of 38, and Karyn Blanco came in 2nd out of a field of only 2 competitors.

Neal Cassidy was the only one on snowblades.

 

After the competition, I made a few more runs and ran into some interesting people. I rode up the chair with three guys from the DC area who were on snow blades. They referred to themselves as the “Old Farts on Blades.”

 

That evening, I had dinner at the Junction and it was excellent. They had prepared a special banquet for the press and the menu was outstanding. We had quail as an appetizer and a pork dish for an entre with ice cream for desert. I sat next to a TV producer from NBC and freelance writer from the DC area. The conversation ranged from the election news that was just like a soap opera, to lots of talk about skiing and riding.

 

After dinner, I headed back the Foxfire Grill. There was a live band and the place was jumpin. They were packed four-deep at the bar and there was a live band playing a lot of original music. During lunch, they play a lot of blues and the waiters walk around in sunglasses but in the evening, the music had turned to alternative. I met a few snowboarder dudes and dudettes who were really into the music. They were standing and dancing right in front of the band and were really enjoying themselves. I called it a night and headed back to my suite early. I was planning to take advantage of the chance to catch first tracks at 7:45 A.M. before the slopes were open to the public. Bruce Pitt, the new VP and General Manager and a few of the staff had offered to take us out for a couple of runs when we could have the entire ski areas to ourselves.

 

The air was crisp and the trails were all well groomed. We ducked under the ropes, led by a member of the ski patrol and the small group of journalists and staff skied and rode to the bottom. We hopped on the chair and took a second run. It was really nice to have the entire mountain to ourselves. After a couple of runs, we popped into the Boat House for breakfast. After that it was run after run, exploring all the great skiing that Snowshoe had to offer. By the middle of the afternoon, I’d had it. Tired and happy, I headed back home with that tired feeling and happy smile on my face that only a great weekend on the snow can provide.

 

Every time I go to Snowshoe, I have a great time. The ski area is big and there is a lot to do, I never seem to have enough time to do all the things I want to do but there is always next time. They have guided dog sled runs and tubing that I’d like to fit in, the next time I visit this wonderful resort.