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Snowshoe Mountain Resort holds opening day after extended off-season

Published: Dec. 4, 2020 at 5:44 PM EST
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DUNMORE, W.Va (WDTV) - The slopes of Snowshoe Mountain were alive with the sounds of celebration as the winter sport community returned to the trails for the first time since March.

“It shut down so suddenly, no one had the chance to do that ‘final run,’” said Shawn Cassell, the PR manager for Snowshoe Mountain

“She cried, a lot,” Ahna Valach said, describing her sister, Mia’s reaction to the resort’s shutdown early in 2020.

The Valach family are avid snowboarders. Last year they clocked well over 100 total days on the slopes, yet, when the initial coronavirus shutdowns went into effect, they found themselves spending much more time by the fire than expected.

“We were here having a sleep-over,” described Ahna.

“with our friends,” chimed in Mia.

“Then our mom and my dad had to tell us you can’t snowboard tomorrow,” said Ahna.

That day marked the beginning of one of the longest off-seasons in Snowshoe history. That hiatus was extended after coronavirus surges in November.

“It was kind of like, ‘are we even going to have a ski season?’ It was up in the air,” said Wes Brendsel, a volunteer Mountain Guide.

The uncertainty lasted until today, when Snowshoe kicked off its season with an opening day celebration.

“We are ready to get the season started,” said Gary Whinethorp, who spent the day snowboarding with a group of his friends.

The celebration looked different than tradition. The ceremonial rope drop did not happen, instead, staff opened lifts early to allow people to kick their first day off as early as possible.

Within minutes, countless boards and skis filled the resort’s runs.

“2020 has been wild.. but to get back out there today, to get back on the snow, it feels like something is back to normal,” said Cassell.

While ski sports do tend to lean towards coronavirus precautions with many wearing masks and baklavas, distancing themselves and staying outdoors, Snowshoe staff still applied several other precautions.

“Some of it is as simple as the stuff you would see if you go to your local grocery store, you know. You are going to have to wear your mask when you’re in public common areas, down in the lift lines, while loading and unloading the lift, and obviously indoors,” said Cassell.

Yet, ask most of the regulars in the mountain like Whinethorp and they say these precautions were barely noticeable as many of these rules were just common practice for snowboarders.

The biggest change that will happen at the resort is a limit on capacity.

“We have dramatically lower our skier capacity of how many skiers we can have on the mountain at any given time so that we can expect them to distance adequately. So - to do that - we have had to restrict the amount of lift tickets that are available. So, if you do want to come up to come skiing, it is super important to book your tickets in advance,” said Cassell.

He continued to emphasis planning. Cassell recommends anyone that wants to hit the slopes should get their passes early, rent their gear early and arrive early to maximize your time on the slopes. He also says the best time to visit is during the week when both crowds and lift ticker prices are low.

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