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Snow a no go at Whitetail

January 04, 2007|by JENNIFER FITCH

MERCERSBURG, PA. - Log on to Whitetail Resort's Web site and scroll through the day's camera shots of the mountain.

In this, the height of the resort's season, you'll see picturesque ridges, chair lifts, snow machines and the lights that illuminate the landscape at night.

So why are many workers at one of Mercersburg's major employers without a paycheck?

The Webcams plainly reveal the answer - grassy, muddy slopes with small patches of snow supporting nary a skier, snowboarder or snow tubing enthusiast.

Ten- and 12-year employees remember past El Nino phenomenons that closed the slopes for stretches of time, but not over the Christmas and New Year's holidays like this season, Sales and Marketing Director Katrina Gayman said.

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Resort officials are hoping to have three chilly nights for snow making before the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, which is typically one of the best of the ski season, Gayman said.

"Every opportunity we get to make snow, we're trying to do it," she said.

Whitetail Resort opened Dec. 9, 2006, and remained operational for 15 days. Of the resort's 15 slopes, the most open on any day was nine, according to Gayman.

Snow tubing never opened.

Five events have been canceled without the option of rescheduling, Gayman said. Others, including the night program that involved schools, have been postponed, she said.

Callers and employees alike have handled the situation well, Gayman said.

"Everybody seems to be in pretty good spirits," she said. "They're in disbelief."

Gayman said she wasn't sure how many people the resort employs, but officials have told The Herald-Mail in the past that the number is more than 800 in the winter.

With perhaps a telling choice of words, Gayman said the financial hit for parent company Snow Time Inc. is "nothing they can't weather."

Liberty Mountain Resort in Carroll Valley, Pa., which is also owned by Snow Time Inc., is closed, while sister resort Ski Roundtop in Lewisberry, Pa., was open Wednesday night.

Gayman encouraged winter sports enthusiasts to check the resort's Web site (www.skiwhitetail.com) or call 717-328-9400 to determine when the slopes are open.

To see live views of the slopes at Whitetail, go to www.skiwhitetail.com.

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