At 7:25 a.m. on February 2, 2013, down in Punxsutawney, Pa., the famous Punxsutawney Phil emerged out of his quarters under a very overcast sky and failed to see his shadow, which supposedly set things in motion for an early spring, rather than the extra six weeks of winter that the skiers and snowboarders of Ellicottville prefer.
Well, we have now passed the six-week mark and winter has yet to step aside and allow spring to come through the door. Quite honestly, we here at HoliMont couldn’t be happier. Considering we are now nearing the end of March, the amount of snow left on the slopes is considerable (for anyone who has yet to strike last season from their memory, HoliMont was shutting down at this time last season) and the condition of the snow on the slopes is superb.
The weekend of March 16–17 was an enjoyable one for everyone at the club. The Jim Barker Memorial Club Championship Race took place on Saturday and HoliMont members of all ages took to the slopes to test their speed against one another and see who was the fastest, most technical skier at the ’Mont. Given HoliMont’s strong racing program, it was a sight to watch some of the more competitive adults try to best one another’s times. But it was the sight of the younger racers making their way around the gates that a lot of the crowd was there to see. These young racers are the future of the club and as such, it was great to see their love for the sport showcased in an event that has very deep roots in the HoliMont community.
Club Championships used to be called just that, but last year HoliMont lost longtime Member Jim Barker. Jim was a fun, loving, energetic man who gave his heart and soul in everything that he did. In the wintertime, much of this heart and soul was devoted to the HoliMont Racing Program and the Club Championships was one of his favorite events. So in his remembrance, the Racing Program dedicated the Club Championships to him. Jim would’ve been thrilled with what he saw last Saturday.
Also on Saturday, there was a slopestyle contest that the Terrain Park Crew put together. It’s always fun to watch kids rip through the park, but that fun gets stepped up a couple notches as soon as a section of the park is closed down for them, and people are cheering them on from the chairlift above and music is pumping through the park. The kids who came out for the competition showed off their skills by jibbing, sliding and spinning their way through a series of rails, boxes and jumps. More importantly, they all had fun, which is the whole reason for being out on the slopes in the first place.
Moving forward, on March 30, HoliMont will be holding its annual Pond Skimming event. There is a lot of pent up excitement for this event, as it had to be canceled last year due to the fact that the ski area was forced to close before the scheduled Pond Skimming date. This season there should be plenty of thrills and (potentially) lots of spills in this members-only “Las Vegas” themed event.
The spectacle starts at noon in front of the Main Chalet and the first 30 members who sign up and show up in appropriately themed costumes will get to vie for pond skimming bragging rights (or they will get a chilly bath).
Nordic Gods smiled on HoliMont’s Annual Free Heel Fling, an “International” Telemark event, which took place on March. More than 60 free heeling skiers from Ohio, Ontario, Pennsylvania, and New York enjoyed the sunny slopes, clinics, camaraderie and a fun tele race. The telemark committee wants to thank all who participated in the event, donated their time and contributed to the raffle and wonderful potluck lunch. Here is a recap of the day.
Gear Up and the City Garage were on hand to supply rental and demo equipment to experienced skiers and new comers. Eight people freed their heels for the first time, including the youngest participate, an 11-year-old girl from Ohio. HoliMont’s certified Nordic instructor led clinics throughout the day for all ability levels. Our guest instructor was Jay Nation from Seven Springs, Pa. He is a level 3 instructor and a PSIA Nordic Development Team member.
Race coordinator Rick Barry put a new twist on the classic tele race. The Tele Raid, took skiers to caches all over the mountain, then to a racecourse with gates, trees and an uphill finish. Prizes were awarded for the fastest male (Jeff Maceachern) and female (Sean Miller). Metal Telemark skier trophies designed by Clark Duffin of HoliMont Snowsports were awarded to the winners of the race and also to the youngest and the most enthusiastic tele skiers.
Next year’s festival will be on Friday March 7, 2014. Mark your calendars — you won’t want to miss it. Free Heel Fling is fast becoming the largest telemark event in Western New York.
Local businesses who donated gift certificates and prizes for the après raffle include Alexandra’s, A New Beginning Massage and Spa, Bike and Bean, The Birdwalk, Cadillac Jacks, Coffee Culture, Dekdebrun’s Ski Shop, The Depot, Earth Arts, E-Ville Wine & Spirits, Hampshire Mills of Salamanca, Just Riding Along Bike Shop in Bradford, Katy’s Cafe, Kazoo II, Nature’s Remedy, Oasis Day Spa, The Red Door Ski Shop, Subway, Tangled Twigs, Tim and Bonnie’s Pizza, Tops, Watson’s Chocolate, Village Wine Rack, Wingate by Wyndham, Winery of Ellicottville and Zippo. Other sponsors include Al Mahar, Mike Hughes, Gear Up and HoliMont, Inc.