Snow Homes

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So the car’s all loaded with that new winter sports equipment Santa brought us, and now we just have to wait for a good snowfall. Or do we? Not with the Massanutten and Wintergreen resorts so close at hand just off the Blue Ridge Parkway we don’t. Massanutten boasts that its 5,200 acres include “1,110 feet of vertical – the most in Virginia, Maryland, or Pennsylvania.” Wintergreen has twice been named “Best Ski Resort” by the readers of Washington Post online. Skiing and skating, even snow tubing and snowboarding–these resorts provide both snow and ice all season ‘round for day-tripping sports enthusiasts and prime real estate for sport and nature lovers looking for a second home.

 
Massanutten Sports
Massanutten was the first resort in Virginia to offer snowboarding and snow tubing trails, plus lighting on all its ski trails, a quad chairlift, and a loading conveyor belt. Its 70 skiable acres, the most of any Virginia resort, include 14 trails ranging from the 4100 foot ParaDice to the 300 foot Yee Ha. 
 
For skiers and snowboarders for whom merely sliding downhill at high speed without wiping out isn’t challenging enough, Massanutten has two terrain parks, comparable to skateboard parks in the snow, with tabletops, rollers, spines and other hard, unyielding objects that must be negotiated with skill – or else. And Massanutten staff hand-groom the parks daily, so that their contours and layouts constantly offer fresh challenges. 
 
The Easy Street Terrain Park for beginners has relatively small features and is for boarders only. CMB Terrain Park is for upper level snowboarders and twin-tipped skiers, and has its own lift.
 
Peaked Mountain Express Tube Park is a 900-foot long, eight-lane hill that opened in 1998. A conveyor belt takes boarders up the hill, and a staff member ensures that lanes are clear before they start their ride.  
 
“In the old days when you got to the bottom of the hill, you’d pole or shuffle to the load point where the chair would come and pick you up,” says Massanutten Ski Area Manager Steven Showalter. Nowadays, a gate pops open automatically and you slide onto the conveyor and the chair gently picks you up and takes you back up to the top. 
 
Massanutten veterans will be pleased to find that construction has been completed on a new, Doppelmayr Triple Chair, replacing a 1972 era Double Chair, and re-grading to allow easier access to the Lower MakAttack and Pacesetter trails.
 
Massanutten Snow Sport Learning Center assists skiers and boarders at all age levels. The Center’s most popular option, the Pathway Program for beginners, includes equipment rentals and two hours of instruction. “Hopefully in those two hours we can teach you how to turn left, turn right, and stop, and give you experience riding the lift!” Showalter says. The Center also offers lessons on the advanced beginner/intermediate level, and private lessons for experienced skiers. Its Ladies Skiing Clinic serves Intermediate level women, while its Silver Skiing Clinic serves intermediate skiers of both genders who are “over 50 years young.” Slope Sliders Children’s Program teaches skiing for ages 4-12 and snowboarding for ages 4-12. 
 
Physically challenged individuals of all ages can find instruction in each winter sport at the Adaptive Ski School (M.A.S.S.), a partnership with Therapeutic Adventures, Inc., a three decade old organization dedicated to teaching, coaching, guiding and mentoring physically challenged individuals and families. 
 
As a member of the Southern Alpine Race Association (SARA), Massanutten offers team competition in skiing and snowboarding for kids on the intermediate through advanced levels. Meets are held every weekend throughout the season from late December to early March at a different resort throughout the region, and at Massanutten itself, with each resort fielding a team. The Race Competition Squad is for skiers ages 7-19 who are competent on advanced terrain. The Ski Development Squad is for children ages 7-16 who can compete on intermediate through advanced terrain. The Freestyle Squad is for snowboarders ages 7-16 and competes on advanced terrain, and the Snowboard Development Squad is for boarders ages 7-16 and competes on intermediate terrain.
 
Ice skating aficionados can lace up their skates at Massanutten’s newest winter playground, the LeClub Recreation Center. The 4,250 square-foot outdoor skating rink can accommodate up to 132 skaters at a time. Novice skaters, both children and adults, can take lessons either privately or in a group.
 
Massanutten rents skis, snowboards, boots, skates and helmets. It does not rent clothing or accessories. 
 
Massanutten Housing
The Massanutten resort is studded with 1,000 single family homes, and 1,300 time-sharing units and many property owners are eligible for 20 percent discounts on ski and snowboard tickets. With its walking paths and numerous mountain trails, Massanutten is a great place for dog owners to buy a home. 
 
Current single family homes for sale range from 16,000 a square foot, nine bedroom and eleven bath property on ten acres with a $1.675 million asking price to 1,495 a square foot, three bedroom and three bath townhouse.   
 
Massanutten also has time shares for sale to suit many budgets. Its top of the line Summit Hills and Summit Sunrise townhomes on Emily Lane boast excellent mountain views, have four bedrooms and four baths and can sleep twelve. Both can be split into two separately locked units.
 
Equally top quality Woodstone Casa de Campo (Country House) units have two bedrooms and two bathrooms and can sleep eight, while Woodstone Meadows townhouse units have four bedrooms and four bathrooms and can sleep twelve. Both styles can be split into two separately locked units. Each is close to the resort’s Woodstone Meadows Golf Course and Woodstone Recreation Center.
 
All Massanutten owners have access to the Owner’s Corner website with its newsletters, budgets, and privacy policies.
 
Wintergreen Snow Sports
Wintergreen is proud to be the only resort on the East Coast to use an automated snow making system across its entire terrain. The computerized system uses some 40,000 linear feet of pipeline and more than 400 snow guns. The result: snow all of the time, snow everywhere.
 
The 11,000-acre resort on the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains has 129 slide-able acres with 26 ski and snowboard slopes and trails, the largest tubing park in Virginia, two terrain parks, and a snow park for young kids. All that plus a Snow Sports School makes Wintergreen an all-ages, all-skill levels place to play. 
 
Twenty-three percent of Wintergreen’s snowy terrain is considered suitable for beginners, while 35 percent is for intermediate and 42 percent for advanced and expert sliders. Among its slopes are Cliffhanger, a double-black-diamond expert hill, and Outer Limits, a new 2,000-foot single-black-diamond. Eagles Swoop and Tyro are intermediate slopes. Upper & Lower Dobie are suitable for beginners. 
 
The tubing park, officially called the Plunge but nicknamed the “scream machine,” is more than three football fields long, and daredevils take it at speeds of nearly 30 miles per hour. The 30-second trip down the 900-foot Zip is even faster, reaching 40 mph. A conveyor lift takes tubes and tubers back both hills. 
 
Ski fans can make runs by day, and Tuesday through Sunday nights. The park’s seven lifts can take as many as 11,200 skiers up the mountain every hour. Of its five chairlifts, two are high-speed with a six-passenger capacity. Two surface conveyor lifts are transports skiers in the beginner areas. 
 
Folks who prefer sliding on a flat surface can head to the Shamokin Ice Skating Rink outside on the Blue Ridge Terrace. The 45 x 90 foot rink can hold up to 60 skaters at a time. A 150-ton “chiller” keeps the ice icy when the weather is not. The park is available for skating parties, birthday parties, broomball events, etc. 
 
Wintergreen’s two terrain parks are for freestyle skiing on snow features, jibs and rails. The parks also host events and competitions with fancy names like Freestyle Rail Jams, the Blue Ridge Doublecross and the Glass & Powder Slopestyle.
 
Wintergreen rents skis, snowboards, boots and poles. Equipment may be rented for individual sessions or a whole season at a time.
 
Snowsports School
Wintergreen offers group and private instruction in skiing and snowboarding for all comers ages 4 and up. The Treehouse serves kids 4-14 while offering childcare for kids 2 ½-12. Its Ridgely’s Rippers program for ages 4-14 teaches skiing and its Mountain Explorers program for ages 7-14 teaches both skiing and snowboarding.
 
The resort offers instruction to adults as well, based on the American Teaching System, guaranteeing beginners the ability to turn (important) and stop (very important!) by the end of the first lesson. 
 
Ridgely’s Fun Park is a safe play place for kids 3 and older to make snowmen and snowballs, and to sled, ride a carousel in a mini-tube, explore tunnels and try out bear paw snowshoes. The park tee-pee sells hot chocolate and s’mores, and the park mascot, Ridgely the Bear, makes regular appearances. 
 
Wintergreen Adaptive Skiing (WAS) is a non-profit organization that teaches kids and adults with physical disabilities to ski and snowboard. Lessons are available all day long. 
 
Wintergreen Housing
With its numerous sporting and other recreational opportunities for the whole family throughout the year, its holiday programming, range of dining options and, of course, those gorgeous views, it’s no wonder Wintergreen is such a sought after spot for a vacation home. 
 
Many people first go to Wintergreen with “a singular focus” says Wintergreen’s Brian Chase. Maybe their kids want to ski or snowboard, but “quite often they get there and find themselves pleased with the other options, such as dining, or that it’s a great place to congregate and bring friends. I have some clients who were really shocked at the amount of time they were spending at Wintergreen in the spring, summer and fall. It’s a four seasons resort.”
 
The resort is home to roughly 1200 condos ranging in price from $80,000 to $500,000, and a variety of townhomes in the $180,000 to $450,000 price range. Detached single family houses are valued from $200,000 to $1.5 million. Right now there are 100 condos and townhomes for sale, along with 85 single family homes. In addition, about 40 percent of homes in the valley below Wintergreen are second homes, according to Chase.
 
Annual expenses condominium owners pay, including taxes, insurance, condo dues, HOA fees, and utilities, run about $10,000 a year. For detached, single-family homes, that figure is only $6,000 per annum.
 
But many homeowners actually reside on the mountain only part-time, renting out their property the rest of the year either privately or through the resort’s rental program. “With all the conferences and other business activity,” Chase says, “there’s a reasonable expectation for rental activity year ‘round. In the resorts rental program, you’re looking at defraying operating costs. You might break even plus or minus a couple of thousand dollars.” 
 
Prospective renters will find some 275 privately owned properties currently available. Renting at Wintergreen is much like staying at a hotel, with 24-hour a day access to the front desk. 
 
For more information on winter sports and home ownership at Central Virginia’s two exciting resorts, visit www.wintergreenresort.com and www.massanutten.com.
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