WILMINGTON - Ski season at Whiteface Mountain is expected to begin in the next few weeks, and as the staff there gears up for their Nov. 27 opening, they're taking the time to enjoy some recognition for their strong rescue efforts.
Snow guns are expected to begin production on the slopes in mid-November, but in the meantime, many on the mountain are already hard at work preparing for the influx of skiers.
"There's a lot that goes on long before we begin the snow making process," noted Whiteface Mountain general manager Bruce McCulley.
On Oct. 20, the mountain's ski patrol did their part getting ready by participating in their annual training, which covered lift evacuations, mountain operations, a CPR refresher and medical skill evaluations.
That same weekend, the ski patrol formally received the prestigious award for Outstanding Large Alpine Patrol, Eastern Division, from the National Ski Patrol.
The award lists the Whiteface Mountain Ski Patrol among the best among 15 regions covering 183 different patrols from the entire north east. The award also earned them a unit citation.
"We are extremely proud of the Whiteface Mountain Ski Patrol, our volunteers and paid staff excel in their trade and show professionalism in all that they do," said McCulley, "This recognition is well deserved and we are grateful for their contribution to Whiteface."
Several Whiteface Mountain ski patrollers were also individually recognized for their level of excellence. Peter Neefus, the Eastern New York regional director for the National Ski Patrol, took time out to award Merit Stars to Virgie Hoyt, Gary Marchuk, Tom Everett and Katja Kellett for their lifesaving efforts on Dec. 29, 2008.
In the past two years, Whiteface patrollers have received 25 individual Merit Star Awards for lifesaving actions.
"World class events demand world class performance, so whether it's running a toboggan down a World Cup mogul field, or responding to a twisted knee by a beginner skier, the patrol does it," said ski patroller Joe Rine, "and does it with class."