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No business like snow business at Whitetail

February 19, 2003|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - The western ski resorts have nothing on Whitetail Mountain Resort this week.

Skiers and snowboarders at the Mercersburg ski area were reveling in something they say they rarely see in Southcentral Pennsylvania - fresh powder.

"If you're a devout skier or snowboarder you'll find a way to get here," Mike Schuman, safety director at the resort, said Tuesday.

And get there they did, in spite of having to dig out their vehicles and drive to Mercersburg over snow-covered roads.

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"It's the best I've ever seen up here," said Carl Catanese, 49, of Tacoma Park, Md., who calls himself an expert skier. Conditions are no better at his favorite ski resorts at Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico or Telluride and Aspen in Colorado, he said.

"Snow conditions here are as good as they can be out West. No ice and lots of fluffy powder," Catanese said.

Presidents Day weekend usually brings out the skiers in droves, said Chris Black, marketing director at Whitetail. This weekend, because of heavy snow and bad road conditions, business was off a little, he said.

On Saturday, 4,218 people came to ski, snowboard and snow tube on Whitetail's slopes, said Judy Boyd in resort services.

"It wasn't great but it was good," she said.

On Sunday, a day Boyd said "I'll never forget," 1,355 patrons braved the falling snow to get to the slopes. The resort closed early Sunday because of the weather, she said.

"It was better than we thought it would be," Black said.

Monday was slower than a normal Presidents Day because people were just starting to dig out, he said.

Ticket sales had rallied by 1 p.m. Tuesday with more than 2,500 sold. "We could reach 3,500 by the end of the day," Boyd said.

All of the resort's parking lots were full by early afternoon.

The weekend storm kept schools closed through Tuesday, which also helped to bring people out, Black said.

"Snow makes people think of skiing," he said. "I figure we'll do well next weekend if the cold weather holds and we don't get rain."

Helping to boost sales this year is snow tubing, an activity in which participants get on a plastic tube and slide down specially designed slopes.

It's inexpensive - $7 an hour - and it takes no skill, Black said.

"You're an expert the first time out."

Jonathan Myers, 20, of Rockville, Md., was taking advantage of the fresh powder Tuesday on his snowboard. "This is great today. It's like being out West," he said.

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