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interViews: Conversations with Ellicottville-ians

By Jann Wiswall

Get to Know: Jeff Clancy

Title: 

Snowmaking Supervisor, Holiday Valley

A Few Facts: 

Jeff Clancy may well be the most important person at Holiday Valley at this time of year. He is in charge of the vast snowmaking operation there – and everyone wants him to get very busy, very soon!

Jeff has been a fixture at Holiday Valley since the winter of 1993-94 when he started as a snowmaker. He worked summers at Darien Lake outside of Batavia. In 2000, he went full time at the resort and, in 2005, was promoted to snowmaking supervisor. During the off-season, he works in grounds maintenance and at some of Holiday Valley’s special events.

Jeff has seen a lot of changes in snowmaking technology over the years and believes that Holiday Valley has the most advanced system around. With the addition of 72 new automated snow guns over the past summer, there are now 100 guns in place around the mountain, all controlled by a central computer station that monitors each gun and adjusts them for wind direction and temperature. But, says Jeff, the computer is only one very important tool in the process.

“The snowmakers have to be out on the mountain making sure the guns are working properly, and correcting them if they are not. Each gun can be controlled manually as well,” he said.

Ellicottville is in Jeff’s blood. Both of his parents grew up here, though he was raised in Portville. He lived in Ellicottville for eight years before getting married and moving with his wife and two children to Allegany. Jeff is a skier. His wife and 13-year-old son prefer snowboarding. He hopes his daughter (age 2) will choose skiing, too.

Q: What do you think makes Ellicottville special?

A: As a younger man, I was attracted to the bar scene in Ellicottville. It’s the kind of place where you get to know the bar and restaurant owners and their staffs, and you really feel like you’re part of the community. My job was here, I lived here and I could walk everywhere. Now that I’m a bit older, I don’t go to bars much, but I still love the energy of the community – whether it’s the mellowness of summer or the excitement when it becomes a resort destination in winter.

Q: In an ideal world, what would you like to see change in Ellicottville in the next five – ten years?

A: I’d like to see an effort by the community to somehow make Ellicottville more affordable for the people who work here. Housing and taxes are too expensive for many of my friends and me, so we have to move farther away. I would love to live and raise my kids in Ellicottville, but it’s just not doable.

Q: What would you like to see stay the same in Ellicottville in the next five – ten years?

A: I like the pace of Ellicottville all year round. It’s great when it’s quiet in the summer, and it’s equally great when it’s a boomtown in the winter. I wouldn’t want that to change too much.

Q: What are your favorite area events/activities?

A: Holiday Valley sponsors some of my personal favorites. I love every minute of Winter Carnival, because my snowmaking team sponsors and staffs the Snow Bar, which gets more fun every year. The Pond Skimming Party in the spring and the Mudslide we did last summer are both great. And, of course, Fall Festival is just a great weekend all around, both at the Valley and in town. I’ve been going to that for years and wouldn’t miss it.

Q: So when will the slopes be opening?

A: As soon as the weather cooperates. Snowmaking is best when it’s 28 degrees or less, preferably for an extended period. The only thing I can say is: “Be patient.”

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