Ace on the hill

 Dear Ace: What kind of effect has all this snowfall had on Charlottesville-area snowsports? I’ve never tried any, at least without the vicarious aid of a Nintendo 64, but everywhere I look now I see these scintillating heaps of powder, and I would hate for it all to go to waste. What does it take to learn how to ski or snowboard around here? And how much time do I have to get up to speed before the slopes melt?—Roamin’-Pole-and-Ski

The 2010 Snowpocalypse appears to be inducing fits of quasi-religious ecstasy in regional ski enthusiasts. Just consult an all-caps February 15 snow report of “SUPERB CONDITIONS!” on Wintergreen Resort’s website, or the Massanutten Resort Twitter feed, which stated on February 8 that slope conditions in the Shenandoah Valley “couldn’t be better!”

Talk about a silver lining. Here Ace has been knocking on wood in hopes that these weather patterns will never repeat themselves in our time, only to realize that there’s probably some chapped-lipped punk swiveling down a mountain on a snowboard, crossing his fingers that exactly the opposite will occur. And you, too, can be that guy—with the benefit of a little schooling, that is.

Wintergreen Resort’s Snowsports School offers a variety of ski and snowboarding instruction options, suited to trainees of all ages and skill levels. Complete novices should take particular interest in the Guaranteed Learn to Ski & Ride program, a reduced-rate lesson package that allows first-time skiers and snowboarders to repeat their introductory class, free of charge, until they can turn, stop, and ride a lift. Other notable Wintergreen programs include a women’s ski seminar, an adaptive sports series for people with disabilities, and The Treehouse, which features classes and activities for children two-and-a-half to 12. 

Massanutten Resort, near Harrisonburg, also offers clinics and private lessons, a youth instructional program for ages 4 to 12, and adaptive sports instruction. Additionally, Massanutten hosts youth skiing and snowboarding teams, which compete in both racing and freestyle events. New this season, Massanutten has instituted a four-week program for Boy Scouts pursuing their snow sports merit badge.

So how much time do you have left? Both resorts conclude their winter sports seasons in the middle of March, so turn off the Nintendo and get shredding. 

You can ask Ace yourself. Intrepid investigative reporter Ace Atkins has been chasing readers’ leads for 21 years. If you have a question for Ace, e-mail it to

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