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Whitetail opens all 17 slopes for 1st time in two years

February 01, 2000|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - For the first time in three years, all 17 slopes at Whitetail Resort are open and snow-covered, bringing skiers out in droves after two mild winters.

"We had more than 5,000 guests throughout the day Saturday," said Whitetail spokeswoman Kim Rosenberry. "It was a blockbuster day. People had to wait in line for tickets, rentals and lifts, but they didn't seem to mind. They stayed here all day. Ski conditions were great, the trails were perfect and it was sunny. That's what we want. People were loving it."

More than 16 inches of new snow has fallen on the resort's slopes since Jan. 25, Rosenberry said. "We had 6 inches on the 25th and 10 more inches on the 30th," she said.

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"From Wednesday through Saturday we've had more than 16,000 guests," she said.

All 17 slopes have been open since Jan. 28 Rosenberry said.

It's the biggest season since 1997 for Whitetail, a resort beset with financial woes in recent years, due in large part to warm, dry winters.

In September Snow Time Inc., owners of Ski Liberty in Fairfield, Pa., and Ski Roundtop near Harrisburg, Pa., plus a ski resort in New York, bought Whitetail for $13 million.

The new owners spiffed up the place and got it ready for the 1999-2000 season with some improvements, including the ticketing system and more streamlined operations overall.

"Our sister resorts did well over the weekend, too," Rosenberry said.

On Saturday, Ski Liberty sold out its lifts by noon and began shifting skiers to Whitetail and Roundtop, she said.

For a while it appeared as if the 2000 ski season would be a repeat of the last two years. Temperatures were reported as high as the 60s the week before the Jan. 25 snow and the man-made snow on the slopes was starting to thin out, Rosenberry said.

Now the surface is the best it's been in years with a combination of man-made and fresh powder, she said.

Grooming machines hit the slopes after 10 p.m. when they are shut down for the night to keep them in good shape for the next day, Rosenberry said.

Temperatures in the region are expected to climb as high as the 40s this week. "Our chief snowmaker said it wouldn't be a problem. The temperatures drop down below freezing at night. We just have to sweep through the snow with the groomers," she said.

Skiers at Whitetail on Saturday will get a special treat. Free-style skier Glenn Plake will spend the day at the resort. The visit is part of a promotion by a Columbia. Md., sporting goods store, Rosenberry said.

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