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What a Difference a Little Snow Makes; Skiers Hitting the Slopes at Local Resorts to Celebrate New Year

By Paul T. Choate

Skiers and snowboarders are out and about today thanks to some recent cold weather. Photo courtesy of Sugar Mountain Resort's base cam
Skiers and snowboarders are out and about today thanks to some recent cold weather. Photo courtesy of Sugar Mountain Resort’s base cam

Jan. 1, 2013. The three local ski resorts are having a very happy New Year today as we ring in this first day of the 2013 year. Thanks to a recent cold snap and some snow in the days following Christmas, the snow bases at Sugar Mountain Resort, Appalachian Ski Mountain and Beech Mountain Resort are solid once again and the skiers and snowboarders are out in droves taking full advantage of it.

Though temperatures have stayed above freezing throughout the day today, recent cold weather has allowed the resorts to make plenty of snow in the past few days and nights in addition to a little greatly welcomed natural snow. 

After a slow and unseasonably warm start to this ski season, it is a welcome sign for not just the ski resorts but the local economy in general to see people bustling about at the resorts’ base cams (click for Sugar, App Ski and Beech).

The ski resorts of North Carolina hire hundreds of employees every winter and pump huge dollars into the economy. Additionally they drive people to the countless ski and snowboard shops across the High Country.

In a 2009-2010 report prepared for the North Carolina Ski Areas Association by the research company RRC Associates, Inc., it was determined that the overall economic value of the ski resort industry in the state was $146 million for the period covering the 2009-2010 season. 

The report also included data on gross revenue from lodging operations from November 2009 to March 2010 for locations impacted by ski resorts. Watauga County saw gross revenue from ski lodging operations of $4.4 million. The Village of Sugar Mountain came in just under $3 million. The Town of Blowing Rock saw ski lodging revenue of $2.6 million. The Town of Beech Mountain pulled in $2.3 million, with nearby Banner Elk at $1.1 million. The big winner though was the “Heart of the High Country,” the Town of Boone, with just over $6 million in gross revenue from lodging operations.

Though the data is a few years dated, the report displays just what kind of dollars the winter sports lovers pour into the local economy and just how important the local ski resorts are.

New Year’s events
Courtesy of Jesse Wood

Given today is New Year’s Day, there is plenty to do in the High Country and that includes at the ski resorts. All three have things going on today to ring in 2013 right.

Sugar Mountain
Sugar Mountain Resort’s New Year’s Eve celebration includes a romantic and beautiful torch light parade at 11:45 p.m., an extravagant fireworks display at 11:55 p.m. and live entertainment provided by “The Johnson Brothers” from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Third Floor Cafeteria welcomes all ages. One basket of Hors D’oeuvres when you arrive, a champagne toast at midnight, party favors cost $80 per couple and $45 for singles.

The Last Run Lounge, where folks must be over 21, includes a champagne toast at midnight and costs $25 per person and $45 per couple.

For more information, call 828-898-4521 x 233 or click to www.skisugar.com/newyears.

Appalachian Ski Mountain
Ring in the New Year with style. App Ski Mountain has fireworks, torchlight skiing and more.

Moonlight Ice Skating takes place from 10 p.m. until midnight. Restaurant specials are also available from 9 p.m. to midnight.

For more information, call 828-295-7828 or click to www.appskimtn.com.

Beech Mountain Resort
Come celebrate the New Year at the Beech Tree Bar and Grille. The Beech Tree will open at 8 p.m. for a 21-and-up event lasting until 1:30 a.m.

The Jonathan Birchfield band will play-in 2013 with his unique mix of country and rock tunes to keep every ear entertained.

Tickets cost $10 per person. Additionally, ice skating hours will be extended until 11 p.m., offering fun and door prizes for all ages. The shuttle bus will provide transportation until 2 a.m.