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Wednesday, 14 November 2007 00:00

Snow blows at Cataloochee: Resort is once again among the first in the East to open

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By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer

Snow is once again blowing at the Cataloochee Ski Area in Maggie Valley, marking the official start of the winter ski season in Western North Carolina.

The ski resort opened its doors Nov. 7 after the recent cold snap made it possible to manufacture enough powder.

“We’ve seen some good consistent cold this week. We want to get open as early as we possible can to make as long a season as we possibly can. If you’re open, it gets folks excited to be here and about the sport,” said Tammy Brown, spokesperson for Cataloochee.

The resort, in its 47th season, is the state’s oldest ski area and an increasingly sought-after destination. Last year, Cataloochee boasted its most profitable season ever. It was the first to open (on Nov. 4) and among the last on the East Coast to close (March 27).

“It was the best year we’ve ever had, even in marginal temperatures, and we were very pleased,” Brown said.

The resort is hoping for another big season, and has made some improvements to give visitors a memorable experience. Cataloochee is adding two new trails — Short and Sweet and Turkey Trot — to its 14 slopes. The ticketing area has been redesigned and three new parking areas have been constructed close to the lodge.

About half of Cataloochee’s runs are intermediate level. The most difficult run is Upper Oh My Gosh, with a 740-foot vertical drop. At 5,400 feet, Cataloochee is the second highest ski resort in the state next to Beech Mountain.

For the more adventurous skiers and snowboarders, the mountain also has Cat Cage Terrain Park with several different rails and boxes.

Cataloochee rents snowboards for $30. Skis rent for $22 on weekends and $18 on weekdays.

The ski resort also operates the six-lane Tony’s Tube World in Maggie Valley, which is across the street from the Ghost Town parking lot. Visitors can opt to snow tube rather than ski or snowboard for the cost of $25 for an hour and 45-minute session.

After a long day on the slopes, visitors can get a hot meal at Cataloochee’s cafeteria or grab a drink at the resort’s bar and lounge, with full ABC permits. The park also has a ski shop that sells soft goods like souvenir items and cold weather apparel.

“We’re excited that we were able to open early and we look forward to a successful season full of cold weather so we can make snow,” Brown said.

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