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Whitetail is seeing more good skiing

October 17, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

MERCERSBURG, PA. - The lights lining the ski slopes of Two Top Mountain, home of Whitetail Mountain Resort, will be a lot brighter this winter for those driving along northbound Interstate 81.

"Every light fixture on the mountain is being changed from 400 watts to 1,000 watts, more than doubling the amount of light for nighttime skiers and snowboarders," said Chris Black, marketing coordinator for the ski resort on Blairs Valley Road south of Mercersburg. "Now, you'll really be able to see the glow from the interstate."

Some 300 lights illuminate the resort's 19 slopes, Black said.

The last two seasons were the best at Whitetail since Snowtime Inc. bought the 500-acre resort in time for the 1998-99 ski season, Black said. The prognosis for this year is more of the same, he said.

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"The almanac points to unusually cold temperatures setting in in late October," he said. "We're hoping for an early opening. As long as it's cold, we can make snow even if there's no natural snow. Natural snow is no better (for skiing) than man-made snow; it just looks better in people's minds because the whole atmosphere on the mountain is white, not just the slopes."

Whitetail will improve its $3 million snow-making system this year by adding two new tower guns and 25 portable snow guns. The company also bought a new train groomer to handle the massive amount of snow the system is able to produce, Black said.

An innovation for the new season is a conveyor lift for the beginner slope. Now, instead of having to walk up the 60-yard trail to the top weighted down with skis or snowboards and the accompanying gear, enthusiasts will be able to stand on the conveyor and be moved to the top "the easy way," Black said.

Also new this year is a new incubator terrain park featuring low tabletops and rails for novices wishing to learn the basic elements of terrain park riding and etiquette.

The resort will offer terrain park lessons all season, including free classes for those 8 years of age and older through Dec. 24.

Snowboarding, a sport that grew out of skateboarding, and trick skiing, which requires double-ended skis that enable a participant to ski forwards or backwards, has been growing in popularity at Whitetail and other ski resorts, Black said.

Himself a trick-skiing aficionado, Black said "skiers wanted to get into the act, too, so we expanded the terrain park to accommodate them."

This year, coffee lovers can enjoy their favorite brew at a new Starbucks coffee shop inside Whitetail's base lodge.

The resort has about 25 full-time employees, but its work force grows to more than 700 who work part time during the ski season.

Whitetail will hold two job fairs at the resort to recruit workers. The first is scheduled for Nov. 11 from 6 to 9 p.m. and the second will be Nov. 13 from 9 a.m. to noon.

About three-fourths of those hired for the season come back every year, Black said.

Part-time positions are open in the rental shops, guest service, food service, the lift department and ski and snowboarding schools, among others.

The 2003-04 season closed March 14. A Herald-Mail vending machine near the resort's main entrance still has newspapers reflecting that date.

The annual Great Outdoors Festival, to be held next Saturday and Sunday, marks the unofficial start of the new ski season. It features such events as a haunted walk to a classic car display, a ski swap where patrons can put their equipment on consignment or trade with other skiers and snowboarders, a climbing wall, chair lift rides, paintball games, juried crafts, a lumberjack competition, a Kids' Corner, live music and food.

The resort's phone number is 717-328-9400. Its Web site is skiwhitetail.com.

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