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Chute Fest wraps up ski season at Holiday Valley

By Deb Everts

It’s time to put away the skis in Ellicottville and get out the golf clubs.

Holiday Valley officially closed its slopes and ended this year’s ski season April 7, but the golf course was opened the same weekend on April 6.

Jane Eshbaugh, marketing director at the resort, said people were able to ski and golf the same weekend.

For now, only the front nine along Route 219 is open because they are waiting for the snow to melt on the back nine. She said the crew is currently grooming the slopes by pushing and spreading the snow around to get it to melt faster. 

“Sunday (April 7) was a beautiful, sunny day and a really great day to close the season,” she said. “We had three lifts open and about 20 slopes.” 

According to Eshbaugh, there was a party at Yodler Lodge and also the Chute Fest at the Chute Lift where there are a lot of moguls. She said the fest is a really fun event and kind of like a grass-roots party where everybody joins a lot of local guys and set up tents on the road, then have a big party in celebration of the season. 

“The fest is a tradition, but Holiday Valley doesn’t actually put it on,” she said. “It’s sort of word-of-mouth where people get together and all showup. But, we did open the lifts for them.” 

For the first time, Holiday Valley hosted the 2019 Hole Shot NorAm Cross Tour March 14 and 15. The resort also hosted the 2019 Revolution Tour SBX/SX event March 17, for the third time.

Eshbaugh said the high-end NorAm Cross competition is a snowboard event where four people start at the same time and go through a course to try to be the first one down. She said there are different levels of competitors from local and regional — all the way up through World Cup level, like people who would be in the Olympics.

“This level of competition was called NorAm and it’s one level below the Olympic level. First, we had the snowboard cross and there were three total races to that,” she said. “These people competed against other people from all over the world at Holiday Valley.”

The other snowboarding competition was the Parallel Giant Slalom, which was also at the NorAm level. Eshbaugh said there were two race courses set with gates.

In this race, the competitors are side-by-side, so they both start at the same time on their own course and try to be the first across the finish line. She said people from all over the world came to Holiday Valley to compete in that event, as well. 

A new event called the King of the Mountain Dog competition was added to the Pond Skimming party this year and was held at the base of Yodeler.

Eshbaugh said friendly dogs of all shapes and sizes, along with their owners, were invited to come and participate or just watch the event that supports the Empire Animal Rescue Society (EARS). Amateur dogs competed in a timed obstacle course, a buried treasure hunt and then showed off their best trick.

Eshbaugh said one of the biggest projects they completed this past year was the addition of new snowmaking guns. She said they bought some on their own, but then there was a New York State program where they were able to purchase additional snow guns to replace some older guns with more energy-efficient guns. She said they came in this winter and were installed during the winter season.

According to Eshbaugh, it was a good year for Holiday Valley and better than their five-year average. She said the resort briefly opened its 61st ski season on Nov. 23, 2018, and was also open the next day before taking a few days off, then reopening for the whole season on Nov. 29.

“We [Holiday Valley] had 132 days of skiing and about 190 inches of natural snow, which is about 10 inches more than average,” she said. “With the natural snow, we had a lot of weather cycles, so 190 inches didn’t just accumulate over the whole season. It comes and goes, then gets packed down.

“We made 1,412 acre-feet of manmade snow so, if it were spread out, it would be like 1,412 acres covered with one-foot of snow,” Eshbaugh continued. “It’s the second highest amount of manmade snow that we’ve had in our history, and it was on top of a good amount of natural snow.”

According to Eshbaugh, several records were broken this year at Holiday Valley.

She said they had a record-breaking 55 inches of natural snow in November and, because the skiing was so great, a record number of visitors came that month, as well.

Another record was set because the resort saw more first-time skiers and snowboarders this year than ever before. They also had a record year at the tubing park.

The resort is located along Route 219, in Ellicottville. For more information, contact Eshbaugh at 699-3904 or jeshbaugh@holidayvalley.com. Visit online at holidayvalley.com.

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