March blowing in like a skier
West Virginia's ski resorts are taking out an ad that'll be spread across the skies from Atlanta to Columbus.
While snow may be a four-letter word to you, a sky full of snow flakes as the calendar folds into March means more people in the region thinking about skiing, and that means more money, more people and more fun are in store at the Mountain State's five downhill ski resorts.
Terry Pfeiffer, president of Winterplace Ski Resort in Flat Top, just south of Beckley, W.Va., as well the WV Ski Area Association president, said you can't beat this kind of forecast as the resorts roll into "fifth season" or March skiing.
"Having snow in the metropolitan areas is really one of the best advertisements we can get," Pfeiffer said. "Instead of seeing the daffodils pop up you are seeing snow in the backyard. We have awesome conditions, and the rest of the ski areas in West Virginia have awesome conditions. It's going to be a great weekend to get away and to enjoy it."
That "Think Snow" and seize the snowy days is ripe across the state where the resorts annually attract more than 800,000 ski visits a year, employ more than 5,000 people and pump about $250 million annually into the state's economy, according to the West Virginia Ski Area Association.
March ushers in a flurry of wild and wonderful weekends.
This weekend, Canaan Valley is packed with weekend events as the family-owned Timberline Four Seasons Resort hosts the South's oldest ski race. The 53rd annual Governor's Cup Ski Race takes place on Timberline's acclaimed Thunderstruck terrain, which will have the Governor's Cup giant slalom race on Saturday and the GC slalom race on Sunday, March 3.
For folks who like a little backcountry in their ski adventure, the Professional Ski Instructors of America are hosting an Off Piste Nordic Workshop at Timberline on Saturday and Sunday as well.
Just a hop, skip and pond jump away from Timberline is Canaan Valley where the state resort is hosting its Wild Thing Weekend March 1-3. A fundraiser for the American Cancer Society & Tucker County Relay for Life, the annual weekend, which this year is called Hope on the Slopes, kicks off with Friday night entertainment and a full plate of Saturday fun from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with the noon frozen T-shirt contest, a 1 p.m. parade of costumes, and at 2 p.m., the almost famous pond jump.
Over in Pocahontas County, Snowshoe Mountain, the state's largest ski resort is having a big military weekend event to benefit the Wounded Warriors program with a Saturday night concert by national act, Uncle Kracker.
Winterplace, which just hosted the Special Olympics Polar Plunge last Saturday, is starting its March tradition of Saturday head-to-head skiing racing. Everyone who registers to race gets entered into a drawing to win a free pair of Rossignol skis.
And generally in March as temps creep up at season's end, crowds and prices go down and good times abound.
In fact, next week, March 7-10, Snowshoe Mountain is rolling out a Spring Break-themed fest, The Ballhooter, with free nightly music on stage in the Snowshoe Village, The Ballhooter Beach Party presented by Captain Morgan, live comedy shows, on-snow games, video contests, race and terrain park competitions, and the first Red Bull DJ Battle at Snowshoe.
And the not-to-miss West Virginia ski party, is Timberline's one-of-a-kind Snowy Luau, March 16-17. That wild weekend features fireworks from on top of the 4,268-foot Herz Mountain, 150 skiers descending down the slopes holding torches during the "lava parade" as Polynesian drummers drum and chant the skiers down.
There's also a pig roast, authentic Polynesian music dancers, fire twirlers and drummers, as well as costume contests, a snow-sculpting competition, obstacle races, and much more at the family-owned Timberline Resort.
Pfeiffer, whose Winterplace Resort will have its pond-skimming championship St. Patrick's Day weekend, said it's easy this season for everyone to get into a festive mood as the weather looks like it will cooperate with good temperatures and conditions to help the resorts stay open until March's end.
That's unlike last year when St. Patrick's Day weekend's temps of up to 75 degrees in the mountains helped close most slopes after that weekend.
"This weekend is a perfect example of what we are getting now in the forecast," Pfeiffer said. "I was watching the weather report and some of them were forecasting snow as far south as Atlanta. So that is good news for us folks in the snow business. We all have an excellent base and this just makes the skiing wonderful.
For more information about skiing in West Virginia, go online at www.goskiwv.com.
Dave Lavender writes about regional travel for The Herald-Dispatch. Follow H-D reporter Dave Lavender on Facebook or Twitter @DaveLavenderHD