2010-02-18 / Sports

Big Snow Makes Long Weekend Bright For Ski Resorts

By David Dishneau ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

MERCERSBURG, Pa. (AP) – The double-barreled blast of winter that buried the Middle Atlantic region in 2 to 4 feet of snow couldn’t have come at a better time for area ski resorts, operators said Friday.

The three-day Presidents Day weekend can make or break their season – and this year, they’ve got it made.

“We are absolutely 100 percent crushed right now with people enjoying the awesome conditions,’’ said Matt See, spokesman for the Whitetail resort near Mercersburg, Pa. He said the resort, about 90 miles northwest of the nation’s capital, is having its best season since its 1991 opening.

Whitetail was closed Thursday so crews could safely clear the road that winds up the mountain to the ski area. But See wasn’t complaining since the workers smoothed the way for Whitetail customers like Ed Regnier, a U.S. Department of Energy engineer from Kensington, Md.

“Three cheers for snow,’’ Regnier during a visit to Whitetail on Monday, when the federal government was closed. The resort got 30 inches of snow last weekend and about 20 more during the midweek storm.

Sales this week at Maryland’s only ski resort, Wisp, near McHenry, were up 26 percent from a year ago, spokeswoman Lori Epp said. The jump corresponds with a bigger snowfall – 176 inches so far this season compared with the 100-inch average. The record is 233 inches, set in 2002-03.

“We haven’t hit a record snowfall yet, but we have a good month and a half of skiing,’’ Epp said.

At Snowshoe Mountain, near Snowshoe, W.Va., it wasn’t so much the snow’s depth as its quality that spokeswoman Laura Parquette found exceptional.

“It’s been colder and drier, which makes for lighter, fluffier snow – what people think of as Utah powder or champagne powder kind of snow. The East Coast isn’t known for that, but we’ve gotten it this year, which has really been phenomenal,’’ she said.

The big snow was deja vu for Whitetail skiers Helik and Diane Shemer, of Leesburg, Va., who met at Virginia ski resort during a huge storm on Presidents Day weekend 2003.

“The first storm, seven years ago, we got snowed in,’’ said Helik, 52, an information technology worker. He said they either had to get along together “or we killed each other.’’

“We preferred the first option,’’ he said. “So that’s why we love these snowstorms.’’

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