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Snow lovers jam slopes

January 24, 2009|By CHRIS CARTER

MERCERSBURG, Pa. -- Few on the slopes Saturday at Whitetail Resort weren't even born in time for the 1980s, let alone remember what they were like.

But that didn't stop the youngsters from participating in the Pitcrew Totally Radical '80s Rail Jam atop Whitetail's Jib Junction.

Almost three dozen skiers and snowboarders competed in the event, the third jam of the 2009 season.

"We'll have 12 (events) this season, every weekend through mid-March," Whitetail marketing coordinator Matt See said. "You'll see some great tricks by some of these kids week in and week out."

Competitors called the slopes some of the best they've been on since coming to Whitetail -- for many that means the best in more than five years. Cold temperatures in December and January have made for ideal snow-making conditions on the mountain.

That made for ideal skiing and snowboarding conditions for the competitors, who jammed on the slopes to the tune of '80s songs such as the Loverboy hit "Working for the Weekend."

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But it was more about the 180s, 360s -- even the occasional 540-- which were hardly dull, making the wipeouts seem well-deserved. But without risk, there's no satisfaction in freestyle competition.

Mike Ocker, 42, of Chambersburg, Pa., stood off to the side as three of his children competed. He looked on as his youngest son, 8-year-old Haden, landed a 360 on skis off the first hill of Jib Junction.

"He's kind of a showoff. He has no fear," Mike Ocker said of Haden. "He's excellent on skis, but he can't snowboard worth a lick."

Haden followed in the footprints of his older siblings on the slopes. Sister Meghan Ocker, 15, still is in the learning stages, while Logan, 13 -- sidelined with a broken arm suffered last weekend -- might be the best of the bunch.

Nine-year-old Riley Ocker gets his advice from Logan, who watched his siblings Saturday from below the slopes.

"He tells me to look over my shoulder when I'm doing 180s and 360s. I don't know why I have to do it, but I do it anyway." Riley said. "I just like the speed going down the snow the best."

For the Ockers, a day at Whitetail is a routine family affair. They come to the resort every day -- on weekends for more than six hours a day -- and consider it time well-spent.

"It's a time for us to be together. How many kids actually like to spend time with their parents?" Mike Ocker said. "I started (skiing) when I was a teenager and it's been a long haul ever since because the kids started when they were about 3 years old.

"There's just nothing like riding up the lift with your kids."

It's just keeping up with them on the way back down in competitions such as the rail jam that becomes tricky.

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