Whitetail pumped over '04 season

March 24, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - The 2003-04 ski season at Whitetail Mountain Resort didn't match the record 2002-03 season, but it did come in a close second, said marketing coordinator Chris Black.

Final figures have not been tabulated, but business during the season that ended March 14 is expected to be about 10 percent below last year, he said.

Weather, as always, was the determining factor, he said.

"Last year, we opened earlier and closed later and we had a lot of natural snow," Black said.

Business took a dip between Christmas and New Year's Day, when temperatures rose into the 60s during what should have been one of the busiest ski weeks of the year, he said.


Overall, business for the season was above the three-year average, said Don MacAskill, general manager at Whitetail.

"It was very good, even though Mother Nature provided a few challenges," he said.

The resort's snow-making system's water-pumping capacity was increased by 20 percent with the addition of new equipment.

"We had to close the mountain for three days between the holidays after it warmed up after Christmas," MacAskill said.

The upgraded equipment proved to be a big benefit when temperatures dropped again after the first of the year.

"We pounded the slopes with phenomenal amounts of water," he said. "We hardly skipped a beat."

Business increased by about 20 percent on the snow-tubing runs, in their second season, he said.

Improvements completed in time for the beginning of the season included a new storage building, improved dining facilities and a new party room.

Snow tubing - an activity in which riders sit on tubes, are towed to the top of a hill, then slide down - is becoming more popular, Black said.

"Anybody any age can do it," he said. "We get a lot of local church, Scout and school groups."

Looking ahead to next season, Whitetail officials have put together a proposed capital improvement list that would add new snow-making lines and a magic carpet lift for beginning skiers that carries them up the slope, much like riding on a flat escalator, Black said.

Other improvements are slated for the snowboarding slopes, and more powerful lighting on all slopes is planned, Black said.

Snow Time Inc. of York, Pa., bought Whitetail in the 1998-99 season. The resort has 19 slopes and covers nearly 1,000 acres.

The name was changed from Ski Whitetail to Whitetail Mountain Resort two years ago.

Snow Time also owns Liberty Mountain Resort in Fairfield, Pa., and Ski Roundtop near Harrisburg, Pa.

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