Christian’s Sports Beat: The view from the groomer’s seat

Christian Deiss shared this article with us that was originally published in the Charleston Gazette-Mail. 

DAVIS — I know there has not been much snow in the lowlands this year, but the West Virginia ski resorts have had plenty of snow on the slopes and that has helped with providing plenty of open terrain for skiers and snowboarders that have come from far and wide.

It has also helped me be able to ski at all four of the state’s major alpine ski resorts, Winterplace, Snowshoe, Canaan Valley, and Timberline for the first time in my brief, six-season skiing career.

Every skier and snowboarder that I know try their best to get on the slopes, if possible, right when a resort’s ski patrol open the slopes in the morning. That is when the slopes are perfectly groomed and in great shape for cruising runs.

Recently during my first-ever trip to Timberline Mountain in Tucker County, I got to ride along with Timberline’s Operation Director Tom Price, while he was grooming the slopes, getting them ready for the next day. During my ride along, I found out how Price got to be the one operating the large machine that helps the slopes from a day of skiing and snowboarding.

“A few years ago, I was working at Perfect North Slopes in Indiana in the terrain park,” Price said, “helping create jumps and features, and the groomers at the time gave me a chance to do it myself and I have been operating a groomer, either at Perfect North or now Timberline Mountain and love getting the slopes ready for skiers and snowboarders.”

Timberline Mountain offers skiers and snowboarders 100 acres of terrain on 22 trails.

I have started to push myself a little more the last couple of seasons, venturing into terrain parks to catch some air. Having someone like Price designing a park is perfect for the industry.

“I love it,” he said. “I have always been an artistic person, and the process of designing a park is very artistic, when you are looking where to place the park’s features and jumps and match them with the shape of the hill. We try to provide something for every skier or snowboarder in our parks.”

Besides getting the parks ready for the next day, Price made it clear that getting all of the slopes ready for the next day is a critical operation for every resort.

“It’s so important, because it is the product we are selling. Grooming is where you shape the hill and make it a consistent product to the public every day. We really pride ourselves, as a company, is to provide a product skiers and snowboarders can always depend on.”

There were two groomers on the slopes when I was riding with Price.

Operating the other groomer, which I was really impressed with, was his wife, Sarah.

During my hour-long ride along with Price in the groomer, our conversation circled around to the fact that there has been a lot of work at the resort since Price’s bosses, owners of Perfect North Slopes, purchased Timberline late in 2019. Despite having to start basically from scratch during the COVID-19 pandemic, Price says it’s been a good season.

“We were really busy getting ready for the season, installing two new lifts, upgrading the snowmaking and remodeling the lodge, but the long hours were well worth it, as we have heard nothing but good things from the skiers and snowboarders that have returned to the resort this season,” he said.

Like I said, this was my first visit to Timberline, and since they are planning to try and make it to April, I am hoping to get a couple more turns in on the resort’s slopes, before this season comes to an end.


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