Slopeside: Whaleback Mountain - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Slopeside: Whaleback Mountain

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Mother Nature has given us a bit of a spring preview over the past few days, but that isn't keeping skiers off the mountain.

Zane Schiffman knows how to make his way around the gates. He learned his skills at Whaleback Mountain.

"I came because my sister would come here midweek. And I would come and ski free and have fun and it was just so nice," said Zane.

Zane might not being skiing here if it weren't for his grandfather, John Schiffman.

In 2013, Whaleback Mountain went into foreclosure. That's when John helped found the Upper Valley Snow Sports Foundation in order to save it.

"We bought it from the bank. And since then, we've been running it based on volunteers and community help," said John in December 2013.

The nonprofit has raised $1.6 million and needs another $1.6 million for maintenance and improved snowmaking. He says it's up to the community if the slopes stay open. He says it would be a loss if they weren't.

"I sort of get teary over this one. Any child no matter what their financial situation. We just need a note from the parents saying we can't afford it. We give them tickets. We give them rentals. And we're here to teach kids how to have a healthy winter experience. That's what this is all about," said John.

"I remember when my friends one day told my teacher, 'Zane's grandfather is redoing Whaleback, it's going to be great.' And it made me feel so happy," said Zane.

With 30 trails and 700 vertical feet, Whaleback is a small mountain with lots of heart.

"It's awesome. We've been driving by for 30 years. So, it's cool to see that they still have the lights on and the kids are out here skiing," said the Johnston family from Massachusetts.

Ski conditions are perfect for racers like Zane right now.

"It's really nice. Because it's got a soft layer but it's also hard and grippy," said Zane.

Over the weekend, we saw some pretty warm temperatures which brought some melting to area mountains. But since then, we've briefly cooled down a bit. And what that means is that snow surfaces are firm and fast again. But if that's not your thing, don't worry. We've got some warmer weather moving in later this week and we'll have spring-type surfaces later on. 

Soft snow or not, there will be lots of youngsters like Zane.

"It's so much fun," said Zane. 

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