Beech Mountain Opening Day 2012-13 from Blue Ridge Outdoors on Vimeo.In the past few years, North Carolina’s Beech Mountain Resort has positioned itself to be a powerhouse in the realm of four season outdoor recreation. Beech went all in with downhill and cross-country mountain biking, becoming one of the best places to gravity ride on the East Coast — and this is saying something in a state as well known for singletrack as it is for basketball. The mountain hosted the Gravity Nationals in 2011 and 2012 and was the scene for the Collegiate Nationals in 2013, hosting the best college riders from around the nation (and by around the nation, we mainly mean Colorado). With the recent development of the Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park, Beech Mountain and the greater Boone area is rapidly capitalizing on the growth of mountain biking and downhill riding in particular.Despite this influx of biking infrastructure, however, Beech Mountain Resort remains a skier’s mountain. Conveniently nestled on a sliver of land surrounded by national forest just north of Linville, Beech is the highest ski area in the eastern U.S. with an elevation of 5,506 feet at the summit, with 95 skiable acres, 830 feet of vertical, and 16 trails served by 7 lifts. The mile-high elevation means if there is snow in the area, it is falling at Beech, but this is still North Carolina so the battle against Mother Nature is constant. For the 2013-14 ski season, Beech has made significant improvements to its snowmaking capabilities, says the mountain’s Talia Freeman.“This summer we added an additional 12 new SMI Super PoleCat snow guns,” she said. “That ups our snowmaking system to 40 total SMI guns, so this gives us a pretty sophisticated snowmaking system. This is the largest modification of our snowmaking capabilities that we’ve ever had and it completely replaced our old compressor system.”Beech boasts snowmaking on 100 percent of their trails, so if the temperature cooperates, the slopes will be open.Speaking of open slopes, another big change at Beech for this year involves a scheduling change. Previously, Beech closed to groom the slopes between the day session and night session, but no more. The slopes will be open from 9am to 9pm on weekdays and 9am to 10pm on weekends.“We think that the streamline hours will allow us to provide a longer and more enjoyable experience for our customer base,” said Freeman. “We aren’t doing a session break anymore. It will be a nice addition for our customer base.”This will allow more skiers and boarders shred one of Beech’s terrain parks designed by Director of Operations Ric Wilkinson, now in his second year at the helm. Freeman says big improvements were made in that department last season, and this year Beech features two parks – one advanced and the other a progression park where youngsters can learn new tricks. Freeman also says there is a continuing commitment at the mountain to get first timers and local kids on the slopes through learn to ride programs and clinics throughout the year.On the events and amenities side, Beech is bringing back its very popular Totally 80’s Retro Weekend at the end of February featuring parties, costume contests, and a banked slalom race. There is also a new facility at the top of the mountain: a skybar/lounge/snackshack called 5,506.“It’s a really cool facility. The deck in front of the lounge area is about 2,200 square feet, it’s really large. The view up there is incredible. It’s kind of like a little glass round house, so we’ll have food and drinks and snacks up there, and then the viewing deck is really cool. It will be a nice addition to the top of the mountain and something we can use year-round.”There’s that term again: year-round. Beech may be expanding its clientele into all four seasons, but with the improvements geared toward the winter, Beech remains committed to skiers and boarders. They know where their bread is buttered.
Undergraduate Student Government senators voted unanimously to change the name of the Women’s Student Assembly to the Student Assembly for Gender Empowerment at the first USG meeting of the semester Tuesday. SAGE Assistant Director Maddie Hengst said that the change came about in order for the group to better fulfill its mission statement and become a better resource for both cisgender and transgender students. “Our mission statement recognizes that we do not just cater to female-identified students, but also cater to students of all gender identities,” Hengst said. “We also don’t want to alienate any of our constituency by focusing exclusively on women.”Several senators initially voiced their confusion over the choice of a name change instead of the creation of an entirely new student organization. Sen. Leena Danpour asked why WSA did not choose to remain the same and simply create a new group called SAGE. “I hope that in the future women wouldn’t feel alienated by our organization or feel inadequately represented by our organization,” Hengst said in response. “I think right now the organization wasn’t appropriately representing our mission statement, so this name change isn’t really changing the purpose of our organization at all — it’s just better reflecting what our mission statement has been and the work we’ve been doing for the past few years.”Sen. Emily Lee wanted to know if WSA’s name change would expand its functions and encroach on the functions of the Queer and Ally Student Assembly. Sen. Kate Oh said that for the most part, this would not occur.“Gender identity and sexual orientation identity are different things,” Oh said. “There might be overlap, but there shouldn’t be any encroachment.”After the vote to change WSA to SAGE passed unanimously, Sen. Tyler Matheson presented his resolution to create a system notifying students of whether or not they are taking any pass-fail courses. The electronic system, which will also notify them of how many pass-fail courses they registered for, aims to provide students with useful information about classes.Senators will vote on whether or not to pass this resolution at the next USG meeting.
After days of public outrage over the treatment of a pupil, who was shamed after he turned up to school in Indigenous attire for Culture Day, Mae’s administration has agreed to apologise to the nine-year-old boy.This was during a meeting held on Monday afternoon at the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) Head Office, which saw APA Executive Director Jean La Rose; GIS Specialist & Forest Policy Officer Michael Mc Garrell; Communications & Visibility Officer Nicholas Peters; Mae’s Schools Director Stacey French and Administrator Lucinda Mc Curdy; and the boy’s parents, Jason Chacon and Karen Small, as well as other stakeholders sitting down to discuss the incident.Karen Small recounts the incident during a meeting with representatives from the APA and Mae’s SchoolsAccording to a statement from the APA, French agreed to apologise to the boy and his parents, but made no commitments on a public apology.“After some back and forth on the matter, and with the APA stressing on what culture really means to Indigenous peoples in Guyana, the school’s director agreed that she would apologise to the young man on the turn the incident took and the trauma that he experienced shortly after,” the missive from the APA detailed.However, the Association pointed out that a public apology was necessary, since not only the boy and his family but the Indigenous people were hurt by this incident, which has been denounced across the country.Monday’s meeting, which was organised by the APA, was the first time the boy’s parents had come face to face with the school’s administration since the incident and Small, the mother of the child, was able to recount directly to the school’s top administration how the incident took place and to express her concerns about its impact on the nine-year-old. She also took the opportunity to highlight some inaccuracies contained in a statement released by the school on the incident.Meanwhile, the school‘s representative also said that she too was not happy about inaccurate media reporting that the child was not allowed to enter the school. However, the APA pointed out that the issue was bigger than whether the child was allowed entry or not, it was a matter much larger that deemed a people’s culture as “inappropriate” which in turn resulted in the child feeling that he should dislike his culture after being made to feel uncomfortable in his ethnic dress.Moreover, the organisation posited that the incident should be used both as a teaching and learning opportunity for the students and faculty of the school. To this end, the APA offered to help the school in sensitising students and others on larger issues affecting Indigenous peoples and their role in society.The school has agreed to host a session in collaboration with the Association to inform students and faculty of Indigenous culture and overcoming the negative stereotypes which continue to exist.Nevertheless, the APA sees the outcome of the meeting as a step in the right direction towards not only resolving this particular incident, but also addressing cultural prejudices that may persist today.Apart from this meeting, the school’s officials also met with representatives from the Ministries of Education, Social Cohesion, and Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs on Monday.