St. Platty's a huge hit at Plattekill

By Jennifer Kabat
St. Patty’s Day got rechristened St. Platty’s Day at Plattekill Mountain on Saturday. More than 20 kegs of green beer were served on the deck, and green t-shirts celebrated the new holiday. Kids painted shamrocks on their cheeks, others wore green braids and shamrocks dangled from helmets. The temperature hit the 60s and skiers peeled down to shorts. Some men even skied shirtless. The party though was bittersweet for many as they mourned the end of the ski season, cut short this year by a warm winter with little snow.

Twenty ski areas in New York had already closed, nearly all in the western part of the state and the Leatherstocking region. At Plattekill the season went out with a bang and some bumps, literally.
This year Plattekill had its first annual mogul competition down the double-black diamond Blockbuster. Judged on speed, style and jumps, competitors ranged from nine to 62 years old.

There was even one gentlemanly skier in a pink button-down shirt and on long narrow skis, dating from before the era of parabolic skis. As spectators cheered, he made a line down the run between the competitors. Hitting the jumps at either end of the course, the racers took to the air with 360s and Daffys.

Many prizes
Prizes included a Rossignol ski jacket, Dynastar twin-tip skis and a 2012-2013 season pass. In the top three places were Joe Supp from Cherry Valley(3rd) , Caleb Jensen from Hawly, PA (2nd) and in first place Ted Battesh from Saratoga Springs. Plattekill owner Laszlo Vajtay even tried his hand (and skis) at the race. Both times he started with spectacular jumps but wiped out, laughing about being a “yard sale” as he lost his skis.

Afterwards he said he’d wanted to start a mogul competition remembering the great ones from his youth. “We were all passionate competitors then and followed the circuit with moguls competition around the Northeast. They’ve kind of died out, but there used to be the one on Bear Mountain at Killington with a $10,000 grand prize. We said we’ve got the trail and pitch and snowmaking, let’s start something and start small and build it up and make an annual event.”

Reached on the phone Tuesday morning, Vajtay also said he was relieved the race was Saturday. “By Sunday we’d lost so much of our base, we had to close the triple halfway through the day. But,” he laughs, “the temperature got into the 70s and instead of beer we were having frozen daiquiris on the deck.”

He’s philosophical about the short season. “I’ve seen this two other times in the 19 years we’ve been here. But,” he adds, “we’ve never see it this warm this fast. We’ve seen warm ups and warm trends and late starts to the season, but this long in March without any frost in sight –” his voice trails off. “I mean it can often be the snowiest month, like last season.”
And, like a true ski area owner, he’s already talking about the next season.