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Ron and Tony Newman assist a customer. Courtesy photo

When everyone woke up on Christmas morning in this area, what they found on the ground in their back yard made every skier and snowboarder extremely happy.

Mother Nature delivered a Christmas present of a half a foot of snow in the lowlands and about the same in the mountains of West Virginia, creating some awesome slope conditions at the ski resorts.

When I saw the fresh snow on the ground, the first thing I thought of was I sure wish I was at 4,800 feet at the top of Snowshoe Mountain Resort, getting ready to make some ski turns.

Why was I so ready to hit the slopes is because I was able to get my skis tuned at the last locally owned ski shop in the area and that being Ski Loft on U.S. 60 in Barboursville.

When I got into skiing a few years ago, my dad told me that when he started skiing in the mid-’80s, there were two or three ski shops in just about every city. That now is a thing of the past.

I sat down with the owners of Ski Loft, Ron and Tony Newman, recently, about the 42 years the shop’s doors have been open. Ron (Tony’s father) told me that running the shop is still a lot of fun. “It’s great seeing folks you haven’t seen since the end of last season, and because of COVID-19, the season came to a sudden stop and we had to shut our doors. It’s like a small reunion when folks you have dealt with for a number of years come walking through the doors and we start talking skiing. That’s what makes it fun.”

When I hit the slopes for the first time a couple of weeks ago, I could tell something just wasn’t right with my skis, things just weren’t going the way they usually do. Because of having a local ski shop nearby, I was able to have Tony check them out for me. It took him just seconds to look them over and let me know that they just needed a good wax job. Without a local ski shop, I would still be guessing.

Like Ron said, before the second week of March was completed, the 2019-2020 ski season ended due to the beginning of the pandemic, when there were so many unknowns about the virus. But since they reopened their doors for the 2020-2021 season, they haven’t stopped.

“People have cabin fever, and since they haven’t been going out as much, they have more money to spend. We are seeing new equipment, skis, boards and boots being bought, along with new jackets, gloves and, of course, face masks,” Ron said.

With that in mind, if you plan on shopping at the Ski Loft, you will need to have a face covering, as the governor’s guidelines are being closely followed. But if you should happen to forget your mask, don’t worry: The guys will give you one while you shop.

I guess what I really like about the ski shop is that if you don’t really need anything, you can just stop by and talk skiing with them. Both of the guys have skied all over North America, and it’s actually fun to hear them trade stories with my dad on where they have been and what resort they like the best.

Also, if you come in and don’t know what’s going on at your favorite local resort, they will quickly bring you around the counter and let you see for yourself on the resort’s remote camera just how the conditions look.

It’s that type of service that makes me and other local skiers and snowboarders in the area happy that there is still a local ski shop, like the Ski Loft. If you stop by, tell them Christian sent you.

Be safe on the slopes, everyone!

Christian Deiss of Scott Depot is a student at Hurricane High School.