By Harley Nefe
For one day near the end of each winter season, Ski Country Sports closes its stores for employees from the Asheville, Banner Elk, Boone and Charlotte locations to be able to attend a staff appreciation day at Sugar Mountain Resort.
This is an event Ski Country Sports has held for 25 years, and it took place on March 3 this year. It involves staff enjoying a cookout celebrating the season and trying out new ski and snowboard equipment that product representatives bring.
“They are all companies that sell skis and snowboards through us,” said Bill Leonard, Ski Country Sports owner. “And they’re kind enough to come out and help us put this event on by bringing all the new products out and letting our employees and staff go out there and try them out.”
When they return to their respective stores, employees are then able to give customers advice on the items they personally were able to test out.
“The intent is to come out and try a bunch of skis and snowboards, and next year, we go back and say, ‘I’ve skied on that one; I know what it was like.’ It makes a big difference to be able to do that,” Leonard said. “It’s like, this is what they told me compared to this is what I know because I’ve been on it.”
The event is also more than just a demo day, as Leonard said, it’s a day of appreciation and fun and for everyone to have a good time.
“Everybody’s had a long winter and has worked hard, so everybody needed a day on the hill,” Leonard said. “Not everybody has gotten to ski a whole lot this year. The snow has been great, and the winter’s been great, but with COVID-19, we’ve been tight on employees, so everybody has worked long hours, and so this has been a good way to finish.”
However, the ski season is not quite finished. Leonard said staff still have another month as he expects slopes to be running until Easter based on how much snow the ski resorts have.
“Skiing has been great at Sugar all year,” Leonard said. “They have piles of snow. So, we’ll be skiing for a while here. With the weather, we’re going to have another busy weekend coming up, and we should be busy through March.”
When asked about the new products, Leonard said there are a lot.
“They all ski well, but it all depends on what you’re looking for and what type of skier you are,” Leonard said. “It’s the same thing with snowboards. There’s a lot of great equipment out here that everybody was really having a fun time with.”
Leonard added that everybody had a great time at the staff appreciation and demo day.
“We woke up in the morning, and it was 28 degrees, blue skies, and we just couldn’t have had a better day out at Sugar, and the snow has been awesome,” Leonard said. “It’s been firm in the morning and stays good all day without getting soft and mushy. So, everybody was out on the hill riding and having a great time. It’s always helpful to have all these skis and snowboards, and they ride really well, especially when the snow is so good, and the weather is so good.”
Pictures from the Wednesday event at Sugar Mountain Resort: