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Whiteface Mountain hosts media day

December 22, 2016
By JUSTIN A. LEVINE - Outdoors Writer (jlevine@adirondackdailyenterprise.com) , Lake Placid News

WILMINGTON - More than three dozen reporters, photographers and cameramen enjoyed a day of free skiing and food at Whiteface Mountain Wednesday, Dec. 14 during the mountain's annual media day event.

About 40 people, representing websites, newspapers and television stations were given a tour of the mountain in an effort to highlight recent changes and additions to the ski area, which was ranked as Ski Magazine's number two resort in the east this year.

Whiteface and state Olympic Regional Development Authority staff broke the reporters into groups for guided skiing and talks about changes the mountain has made in the last year.

Article Photos

From left, Jeff Byrne, General Manager Aaron Kellett and mountain host Ron Konowitz get ready to lead a group of journalists down from the top of the gondola on Dec. 14.
(News photo — Justin A. Levine)

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Snow guns

First on the agenda was a look at the high-efficiency snow guns the mountain has installed. These machines are much quieter than the big old fan guns, and this trait was demonstrated as groups paused alongside the guns to talk about them.

Whiteface General Manager Aaron Kellett explained the newest guns are self-contained units that largely control themselves. He said the efficiency of the guns is much higher than the older models due to the computer controls that each gun has.

"They can make, I think, about 20 adjustments to water flow and air pressure each second," Kellett said. He added that the lack of roaring sound was due to the fact that the new guns use water pressure to spray out snow, while old guns used air compressors.

Strategically placed in high-traffic areas, many of the guns were working all day Wednesday. Nineteen trails were open in the morning, but before lunch that number had climbed into the 20s, showing how effective the snowmaking can be.

Kellett said there is snow making abilities on 98 percent of the mountain.

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Learning

ORDA Senior Vice President Jeff Byrne talked about the learning opportunities at Whiteface and said that plans are being discussed to connect the main mountain with the Bear Den kids area. He said there have talks about building a new lift that could connect the two, or possibly adding a trail that would take people from the learning center to the main lodge.

Byrne also noted that the learning area on the main mountain has plenty of snowmaking and provides a nice variety of trails that can ease new skiers and riders into the sliding sports.

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Guarantees and offers

At lunch, a few ORDA and Whiteface staff members talked about two guarantees the mountain is offering, neither of which many people are taking advantage of because they offer the mountain a chance to make people's trips more enjoyable.

The first is the snow guarantee, which says that if you're not happy with the skiing and return to the ticket window within an hour of buying a ticket, you will receive a free pass to use at another time. Kellett said few people have taken advantage of this since it allows mountain staff to direct people to areas of the mountain they will enjoy.

The second is the three-day learn to ski guarantee which says that after three days of lessons, a new skier will be able to go to the summit and ski down. And if not, they will receive free lessons until they can. No one has needed the fourth day of lessons so far.

The mountain also hosted a free skiing day for anyone dressed in a Santa suit last week, and will continue to do so in the future. More than 300 people took advantage of the offer and Kellett said that about 30 percent of them had never been to Whiteface before.

The mountain is also trying to give more back to the community. There will be several days this year when folks can get a discounted lift ticket by bringing in food or clothing to donate, and the mountain has partnered with the SPCA on a donation discount as well.

Whiteface is also continuing its "Why not Wednesday" deal, where anyone who presents a Coca-Cola product on any non-holiday Wednesday will get a lift ticket for $48. The normal weekday rate is $92.

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Food

A mid-morning break at midstation was geared toward exposing the new Boules Bistro in the downstairs part of the mid-mountain lodge.

It will be offering Panera Bread-style service instead of the cafeteria-style food offered upstairs. People will order and then will be served at their tables. There is a new menu, and the bistro will offer a selection of local beers and wines.

At lunch time, journalists were offered a buffet of different new dishes. The mountain has a new smoker, and brisket and pulled pork are all smoked in-house now. There were sides and dips as well as a host of beverages. Kellett said the mountain's bloody mary, which included mountain-made dilly beans, was ranked third best in the country.

From roasted red pepper humus to in-house gourmet cupcakes, the mountain is offering a wide range of higher end food than the traditional cafeteria fare. Kellett said that the off-slope amenities are one of the things that draws people in to the ski area, and have become as important as the terrain that is offered.

Whiteface is open for the season, and snowmaking will be going in full effect for the foreseeable future. For more information on trail conditions and amenities, visit online at www.whiteface.com.

 
 

 

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