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Up, up and away

By Staff | Dec 29, 2008

Look out the window. It’s that time of year.

Snow is in the crisp and cold air and with each tentative step, your feet crunch in a new layer of light and fluffy crystals. A gust of wind on the mountain’s edge drives billows of snow around you as you strap, buckle, and clip on your sleek, colorful boards.

It’s ski time.

“Skiing is something everybody can do together, no matter what your skill level,” said Troy Ferrell of Marietta, a member of the Ohio Valley Ski Club. “We’ve had a lot of snow early this year and it’s extended the season.”

Ferrell, 41, travels throughout West Virginia and surrounding states for winter fun and also makes a few trips to ski slopes in the west. Once an avid skier, Ferrell now takes to his snowboard. In summer months, he’s a wake boarder on the river. The transition seemed a natural, Ferrell said.

“A friend of mine got me into it,” he said of skiing. “I always was a little concerned about doing it because I’m in construction (electrician) and I didn’t want to bust anything.”

Once on the slopes, Ferrell was hooked. His first down hill run was 16 years ago and he’s never looked back.

Many determined and veteran skiers say it’s also the best year for skiing the West Virginia in literally decades.

“We already have 89 inches of natural snow this season and that’s almost half our annual average of 180 inches,” said Laura Parquette, spokeswoman with Snowshoe Mountain at Snowshoe.

The season opened Nov. 21 at the large and popular West Virginia ski resort — five days earlier than planned because of favorable weather and ski conditions.

“On Thanksgiving Day, Showshoe was the snowiest ski resort in the country,” she said.

Local skiers are basking in the chilly powder.

“It’s the best season for skiing in 30 years,” said veteran skier and business owner Jeff McLain excitedly. “We are seeing epic snow this season.”

McLain, owner of Skier’s Edge in Parkersburg travels to most all West Virginia resorts and makes several trips to Colorado ski centers during winter months.

“I think more people are going to stay local this year,” McLain said. “It’s all about the economy. Driving three or four hours to ski is a lot different than flying across the country, especially for a family.”

People who are concerned and depressed about economic conditions are ready for a break and for distraction, he said.

“What better thing to do when you are down and out and depressed than to spend a weekend at a ski resort,” McLain said. “I’ve seen great packages at most resorts and spending overall on skiing is up industry-wide 12 percent this year.”

He credits the presidential election.

“I’ve noticed that over the years when there is a big change in government, it’s followed by a long, cold winter,” he said. “That makes for good ski conditions, not only locally, but over the nation.”

Snowshoe for McLain is a good value, he said.

“It’s a nice area and for families, you’ve got Silver creek resort and ski area just a short way. It’s great if you want to just kick back and avoid the crowds at Snowshoe.”

Canaan Valley and Timberline are also in close proximity, within six miles of one another, and a close destination for any West Virginia skier, he said.

Christmas is a huge time of year for family ski trips.

“As of this coming weekend, we should have 53 of 60 slopes open and we hope to get some more cold weather soon and be 100 percent open by Christmas,” said Snowshoe’s Parquette.

Although West Virginia’s ski destinations are super popular for thousands of local fans, so are relatively nearby resorts like Seven Springs in Pennsylvania and Wisp in Maryland. Travel time to these ski areas is barely extended from the more local resorts.

Anna Weltz, spokeswoman for Seven Springs Mountain Resort, said heavy snow returned to the mountain early the week of Dec. 15 making conditions this season excellent and “exciting,” she said.

“We are the top-rated, number one resort in the Mid-Atlantic region,” she said. “Up to two children (age 12 and under) are free on our Winter Family Memories Package. This get-away is one of our favorites for family-friendly.”

Canaan Valley

Ski Resort

Canaan Valley Resort is nestled inside 6,000 acres of West Virginia parkland in one of the highest regions east of the Mississippi (3,200 feet above sea level).

In addition to skiing 34 trails, there is a tubing park (600 feet down the mountain on specially-designed riding tubes), ice-skating, and a “Bear Paws” snow camp for children 5 to 12.

Summit elevation at the ski resort is 4,280 feet with a vertical drop of 850 feet. There are three lifts with an uphill capacity of 6,100 per hour.

Over the past few years, Canaan Valley Resort widened and improved trails, added new rental equipment (including shaped skis and snowboards) and enhanced snowmaking capabilities.

Source: ski-guide.com

Seven Springs

Mountain Resort

Although Seven Springs Mountain Resort is located in southwestern Pennsylvania — not West Virginia — the ski resort area is a scant one hour from the West Virginia border, easily accessible to residents of the three-state region.

Located at Seven Spring, Pa., Seven Springs is the state’s largest ski and four-season resort and has been rated the No. 1 resort in the mid-Atlantic region by readers of Ski Magazine for 14 consecutive years. It is within 200 miles of all major metro areas, including Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Washington, D.C.

Each year the family-friendly resort hosts more than 1 million overnight and day guests who come to sky, snowboard, fly fish, downhill mountain bike, golf and more.

Seven Springs Mountain Resort can accommodate more than 5,000 overnight guests in its recently renovated 418-room, 10-story high hotel, nearly 1,200 condominiums and town homes, eight cabins and 15 chalets.

Source: Seven Springs Mountain Resort.



Located in Pocahontas County, Snowshoe Mountain is a premier destination for skiers, snowboarders and winter enthusiasts. It is the largest resort in the region, with 11,000 acres nestled nearly a mile high in the Allegheny Mountains.

The mountain has seen seven feet of natural snow this year.

It’s the 35th winter season for Snowshoe and Friday, Dec. 19 was declared “Snowshoe Mountain Day” in West Virginia by Gov. Joe Manchin.

A single lift ticket gains access to three mountain faces, Snowshoe Basin, Silver Creek, and the Western Territory.

Alpine and night skiing are offered, as well as cross country skiing, snow tubing and snowboarding.

Summit elevation is 4,848 feet with a vertical drop of 1,500 feet. Annual snowfall is 180 inches. Uphill lift capacity is 23,400-pound per hour. There are 60 trails with the longest run 6,600 feet.

Childcare is available at the resort as well as programs for children and lessons.

Source: ski-guide .com.

Timberline Ski Resort

Timberline Four Seasons Resort is located in Canaan Valley in north central West Virginia, high in the Allegheny Mountains.

The mountain has 1,000 vertical feet of skiing, with long trails for all skill levels. Timberline’s high altitude (4,268 feet) is known for cool temperatures, long winters, and abundant natural snowfall.

Skiers have 35 trails covering 91.5 skiable acres. Thirty percent of the terrain is lighted Thursday through Saturday and holidays until 9 p.m. during the regular season.

The Timberline Ski School offers instruction for alpine, telemark, back country, snowboard, adaptive and racing techniques. There are special programs for children, women, and seniors.

Lift capacity is 4,000 per hour and the longest run is 10,560 feet.

Source: ski-guide.com.


Ski Resort

Located in southern West Virginia, just one mile off Interstate 77,

with 27 trails covering 90 acres and a vertical drop of 603 feet, Winterplace is a great place for families and individuals learning to ski.

Snowboarders are welcome to the snowboard park and a new half-pipe dedicated just for boarders. Winterplace has the highest snowmaking capacity per acre in the Southeast, plus snowmaking capability on nearly every trail. Slopes have light every night.

The park offers alpine skiing and snowboarding, rental shop, Ski & Sport Shop, children’s day camp, restaurant and cafeteria, and ski lessons.

The summit elevation is 3,600 feet and average snowfall is 100 inches. Uphill lift capacity is 13,400 per hour. The longest run is 6,600 feet.

Source: www.ski-guide.com

Contact Connie at ccartmell@graffitiwv.com