A Snowy Surprise

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Snowshoe Resort, 2/18

Mother Nature has always been known to throw us a curve ball here and there, but this past Sunday, most of Virginia woke up to a pleasant, however unexpected surprise: snow. Parts of the New River Valley’s downfall exceeded 7 inches, while northern Virginia got around 5. Sunday’s storm had the streets filled with students building ramps and forts and seeking out the biggest hills to sled down.

Most, like Matthew Cook, were inconvenienced by the snow. He had traveled to Appalachian State University with his fraternity, but his weekend was cut short when they were sent home Saturday afternoon due to the impending storm. “It was bad enough we had to leave a day early, but the traffic we had to sit in turned our 3 hour drive into an almost 6 hour drive,” Cook recalled with obvious frustration.

But, for me and the group of people I was with this weekend, the snow was anything but inconvenient. We had made the 3 hour trek to Snowshoe in West Virginia in hopes that the ski resort would produce enough fake snow for us to ski all weekend, so imagine our surprise when we awoke Sunday morning to find that more than a foot of real snow had fallen while we were asleep. “It has been so uncharacteristically warm all winter that we didn’t think we would see real snow falling!” said avid snowboarder Brian Lusher.

 

 
Lusher couldn’t be more right on how uncharacteristic this winter has been, “it was beginning to feel like we had skipped straight over winter and into spring”. Weather has reached peaks of 70 degrees this so-called winter. Even now, two days after the storm, it’s as if the storm never happened with temperatures hitting 65 this week.

Ski lift operator, Hank, has been working at Snowshoe for 25 seasons now and told us that “without a doubt, this has been the warmest winter, making it the slowest winter for us”. But that wasn’t the case this weekend, as hundreds of avid skiers and snowboarders made the journey in the dangerous road conditions just to get on the fresh powder that covered Snowshoe’s 244 acres of terrain. On average, snow season is 130 days long, with natural snowfall beginning in October and accumulating 200 inches. This season will be no different; the only exception will be the ratio of natural and man-made snow.

By Monday afternoon, the roads traveling all the way from West Virginia to Radford, Virginia, had all been plowed and there were only a few gasps as we went over the rare icy patch. Most schools, like Radford, chose not to close down for the day. Instead, much to everyone’s disappointment, campus opened up at 11am with sidewalks plowed and salt in place. Radford City Schools, along with most other public schools in the New River Valley, had classes cancelled Monday but resumed regular scheduling on Tuesday.Image

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RU to Globetrotter

For RU alumn Eric Hall, basketball is more than just a game; it’s his career and passion. It is also his future, as he begins his second season as a Harlem Globetrotter.

Before graduating in 2009, Hall earned top 5 on Radford’s all-time shot-blocking list, and led the team to the NCAA tournament in 2009. Winning the Big South Division and having the opportunity to be in the tournament was his fondest memory, “So many players go through their whole college career with hopes of going Dancing, and I was able to experience it”.

The opportunity to be a Globetrotter came through former RU Coach Greenberg, whose connections got him a tryout. “I was so excited, because not only [was] this an opportunity to continue my basketball career, but it’s also a chance to be a part of a legendary team”.

The 6’8 Radford legend joined the Globetrotters and became known as ‘Hacksaw’. He likes the nickname because “it’s just something about it that’s hard to forget and once they put the name to the face and the face to the game, how could they forget me!”

Since joining the world’s most famous basketball team, Hall has traveled to every end of the globe, embracing how “no matter if we are in China, Spain or right down the street in Roanoke, the people still have a great time and are able to get away from the worries back home and have a great time and I’m a part of that.”

Although he travels globally with his teammates, often in a different country on any given night, his days stay pretty consistent with training, games and interacting with his massive and ever-growing fanbase. “After the game is one of my favorite parts. We sign autographs and get to meet our fans one-on-one, with a goal that every kid get at least one autograph,” he says with pride.

As for what’s next, Eric Hall has the world in his palm, “what I want to be doing in the future is bettering myself as a person and a basketball player so that I can be the best for this organization and more importantly all the fans that I come in contact with around the world”. His best basketball tricks are still works in progress, or as he says “under construction… with a few tricks in my bag that are a secret”.

Published to RU Whim on March 29, 2012:  http://www.ruwhim.com/?p=27565