Ski Areas Strut New Stuff

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Ski Areas Strut New Stuff
HM & HV Make Improvements Over the Summer
Story by John Thomas
Staff Writer


   In a state with 40+ ski areas, none of the resorts can afford to slack off. Grooming, snowmaking, lodge maintenance, lifts, crowd control, and the food all go to create the skier experience. Let any one of those details slip, and a resort can lose business. Fortunately, for us here in Ellicottville, our local resorts get that point. Holiday Valley has been consistently ranked between number five and three in East Coast ski resorts. HoliMont is the largest privately owned ski resort in the US and the loyalty of its members is a testament to the quality of its ski product. This summer both resorts invested substantial sums of money in upgrading and improving equipment to enhance the overall skier experience.   To borrow a phrase from the high-tech industry; neither company takes its foot off the accelerator.

   In January 2018, Holiday Valley will be celebrating its 60th anniversary. The 7th is the actual anniversary date, and the Valley will be having a weekend of celebrations. Details have yet to be determined, but Marketing Director Jane Eshbaugh says “There will be cake!” But before that, the regular ski season must commence, and the Valley has done plenty to get ready.

   Snowmaking is the lifeblood of any ski area, and Holiday Valley has invested $750 thousand to add onto the state-of-the-art snowmaking system. This year they purchased 70 auto units and another ten ground guns to bring the total of snow guns to 701. The system is the largest automated snowmaking system on the East Coast. But snowmaking doesn’t do much good without a way to smooth out and distribute the snow. To that end, the four-season resort has purchased two new grooming tractors, to replace a couple of older units. The purchase brings the six groomers to a cleaner more energy efficient fleet. The Warming Hut at the top of Cindy’s has a long history at Holiday Valley. It was the original bottom terminal building for the Tannenbaum T-Bar in the 1960s. It’s been updated with new windows and a fireplace and has a better view of Cindy’s Run. The Mistletoe Lean-To has also been improved and is set back into the tall iconic pines of the Mistletoe slope.

   For its part, HoliMont continues with its emphasis on improving the skier experience. Many of the changes made to the mountain over the summer will likely go unnoticed by skiers but will have improved conditions for them. “Most of the stuff we did this year was behind the scenes stuff most people wouldn’t notice.” That’s Greg Culver, Retail, Rental and Marketing for HoliMont. By that, he means new underground air and water lines for the snowmaking equipment. New snowmaking towers have been added to fill in the lighter covered areas. Mr. Culver adds, “We have 100% snowmaking so we can cover all of our slopes, but there are those spots that pop up from year to year.” Skiers will notice new signs and trail maps on the mountain. With HoliMont’s emphasis on skier safety, the staff has undergone some rigorous training over the summer. “We practiced lift evacuation drills, in case of a lift failure.” The Safety Patrol coordinated with local EMS services for training in CPR and other emergency services.

   A program coming back this year is Discover HoliMont. The program allows non-member families to purchase a four-month membership to the club. “It gives a potential member a chance to try the club for an entire season for four months’ worth of dues.” Participants have until February 19 to decide if they want to join. If so, the cost is deducted from their initiation fee. More information on the program can be gained by calling HoliMont.   When it comes to the outlook for the winter, Mr. Culver speaks for the entire community when he says, “Our fingers and toes are crossed.”