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Whitetail Ski Resort staying busy

Colder temperatures early in week helped with snow making

December 11, 2010|By C.J. LOVELACE, Staff Correspondent
  • Since opening Thursday, a constant flow of skiers and snowboarders has found the slopes at Whitetail Ski Resort in southern Franklin County. As of Saturday afternoon, Whitetail had 12 of 23 trails open and a 20- to 24-inch base.
C.J. LOVELACE | Staff Writer

MERCERSBURG, Pa. — Since opening Thursday, a constant flow of skiers and snowboarders has found the slopes at Whitetail Ski Resort in southern Franklin County. Cold temperatures in the past few weeks have helped snow-making efforts, and warmer temperatures Saturday

brought out quite a nice crowd, Whitetail’s director of marketing and sales Katrina Gayman said.

“Everybody was getting excited,” she said. “Once the cold temperatures set in, we were able to make snow around the clock, and that definitely enabled us to open up as early as we did.” Gayman, who has worked at Whitetail for the past decade, said the resort opened the same week last year, but on Saturday instead.

“Opening on a mid-week day is something a little bit different, but it was a nice opening,” Gayman said. “We had a great crowd here.”

As of Saturday afternoon, Whitetail had 12 of 23 trails open and a 20- to 24-inch base, Gayman said. Snow tubing trails also opened Saturday. The resort, which opened in 1992, will turn 20 this year and celebrations are planned for next weekend.

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Gayman said they will have a “90s Rail Jam” day Friday as well as live music, giveaways and discounts Saturday. This weekend, however, was a busy one.

Dozens stood in lines for lifts at the foot of the mountain, eagerly awaiting their chance to make a run down the slopes.

Closely located to interstates 81 and 70, Whitetail gets visitors from around Pennsylvania as well as many out-of-staters, which was quite evident Saturday.

Jeff Villa and his wife, Kim, of Manassas, Va., were taking a break and removing their skis at the base of the mountain during their first visit to Whitetail this season. “We have season passes, and practically every weekend, and some weekdays, we come up,” said Villa, adding that they make several trips to Utah for skiing each year and try to hit the slopes at least 40 days during the season.

Villa said he enjoys coming to Whitetail because of how modern and well-planned the slopes are. “For a local resort, (Whitetail) has long sustained runs with not a lot of catwalks,” he said, referring to trails that cross paths coming down the mountain. “They do a good job here.”

In attempts to keep the resort modern and guest-friendly, Gayman said they completed about $2.4 million in improvements this past offseason, including the addition of a new beginner trail that officially opened Saturday morning. They also purchased a new snow groomer, installed a bakery inside the food court area and replaced the decking at the landing of the mountain, Gayman said.

Seated on the new deck, Meg Cornett of Alexandra, Va., said she and her boyfriend, Dave Samonds, decided to start their yearly routine of hitting the slopes at Whitetail. Coming from about 90 minutes away, Cornett said they try to make it up every weekend during the winter. “It's the closest place to home for us to come for a day,” Cornett said.

Cornett smiled when she said her boyfriend was a snowboarder. She joked that their skier-snowboarder relationship is “bipartisan,” noting their proximity to our nation's capital. Inside the Whitetail Mountain Sports shop,

Jason Melvin of Rockville, Md. handed his snowboard over to a shop employee to have the old wax removed. After living in Colorado last year, Melvin said he was excited to get back on Pennsylvania slopes. “It's not that bad of a drive and they have a lot of terrain open,” he said, calling himself more of a “park rat” than a straight rider.

Although they are increasing capacity each day, Gayman said it's going to be tough to rival the great season of last year with all the natural snow that fell on the area. But if the weather stays frosty, the resort could be open until mid-March. “We could get in a little over 100 days, which is a really good season,” she said. “Our snow capabilities are excellent. We put lots of money back into snow-making every year just to continue that effort.”

For more information or to check out current conditions, visit www.skiwhitetail.com.

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