Friday, December 14, 2012
Whiteface Mountain Media Day: 12/12/2012
Beth and I were lucky enough to be invited up for Whiteface's New York Media Ski Day again this year. Having attended last year's event, I knew it would be a fun day of skiing, a great lunch, and an interesting opportunity to speak with a bunch of Whiteface / ORDA personnel about what's going on at the ski mountain. The only problem was Monday's rain and 40+ degree temperatures, just 2 days earlier.
When we arrived at the mountain, just before 8am, top-to-bottom snowmaking operations were visible on Excelsior, Upper and Lower Valley, Essex and Northway. Inside the lodge, we ran into Jon Lundin, ORDA's Public Relations Director, who told us snowmaking had started up about 36 hours earlier, as soon as the cold front came through following Monday's rain. Overnight temps had been in the teens, and snowmaking crews were running more than 100 guns.
While booting up and getting ready to ski, Ted Blazer, ORDA's CEO, addressed our group and introduced Aaron Kellett, Whiteface's new General Manager. Aaron reviewed some of the improvements skiers can expect for 2012-13 at Whiteface, particularly the installation of snowmaking on Hoyt's High. Other upgrades include renovations in the base lodge, new grooming equipment. Marketing news includes the Ski Areas of New York 10-10-10 promotion (ski for $10 on January 10 at participating New York mountains including Whiteface), a three-mountain pass (WF-Gore-Belleayre) expected in the spring of 2013, and a new website.
Of course we were all here to ski, so we grouped up and headed over the gondola. Besides Aaron and Jon, other Whiteface personnel skiing with us included Ed Kreil, Whiteface's Ski School Director, Jeff Byrne, ORDA VP, Rob Zborowski, Centerplate's GM at Whiteface, Marketing Director Liz Mezzetti, and Ron Konowitz, one of Whiteface's Mountain Hosts. Guys like Ed and Ron Kon have an enthusiasm that's contagious - you just know you're going to have fun skiing with these guys.
If anyone was skeptical about conditions, their concerns vanished within the first couple turns down Excelsior. Snowmaking and grooming crews had re-surfaced essentially all of the open terrain over the past 36 hours. With relatively little mid-week traffic and light snow falling all day (maybe an inch total), the mountain skied great. I was surprised at how good the skiing was: my best day so far this season. What's remarkable is how quickly the crews were able to recover from Monday's rain - 36 hours is not a lot of time for the transformation that we skied.
With the exception of a couple rides up the Facelift at the end of the day, we rode the gondola all day. Besides Excelsior and Upper/Lower Valley, other open trails included Essex, Victoria, Northway, Brookside, Boreen and a few others. For this point in the season, that's a respectable amount of open terrain. Snowmaking crews were expected to next move onto Thruway, Parkway and Mountain Run, with the goal of expanding terrain offerings for this weekend. With good snowmaking temperatures each night, I would expect that skiers this weekend should have some of the best conditions of the season so far.