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Monday, 07 March 2016 00:00

The Fact, Myth and Tradition of St. Platty's Day

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stplattyimageThe month of March is filled with facts, myths and traditions when we observe the Ides of March (March 15) and St. Patrick’s Day (March 17).  The same holds true for the annual celebration of St. PLATTY’s Day at Plattekill Mountain.

So, maybe you’re asking yourself right now … what is St. PLATTY’s Day?  St. Patrick’s Day in the United States was created by Irish-Americans … as you might already have guessed, St. PLATTY’s Day was created by Skiing-Americans in Roxbury, NY.

FACT:  St. PLATTY’s Day started the March after the North American Blizzard in February 2006?  Though most of the snow fell in NYC (26+ inches), the mountain decided to celebrate with music and festivities hoping for more snowfall the following year.   Sure enough, February 2007’s storm, dropped 33+ inches in and around the mountain, and so the tradition began.

MYTH:  Yes, there is a Leprechaun alive and well on the mountain.  Like the famous Blarney Stone, be careful of the Platty Leprechaun because you may find yourself  entranced with her sweet flattery by humor and unmistakable wit.  You will find her in the lodge and on the mountain only on this special day.

TRADITION:   St. PLATTY’s Day has become an annual celebration in March.  The festivities (similar to those for the St. Patrick’s Day) include a lunch of Corned Beef and Cabbage, Golden Shamrock Hunt on the mountain, Party in the Platty Lounge with live music, green beer and lots of festive drink specials to share with the Platty Moose.

So, the FACT of this day is to discover the MYTH of the Platty Leprechaun which draws you to the mountains and lets you partake in this family friendly, fun TRADITION! 

St. PLATTY’s Day 2016 will be on Saturday, March 12, 2016. In addition to all the festivities, a great day of Spring skiing and riding await thanks to the significant snowmaking improvements on the mountain.  The Winter season continues at Plattekill Mountain.

With Spring right around the corner, the Spring Equinox falls on March 20th, many people are looking for flowers to bloom and are excited for the warmer temperatures.  But not the folks at Plattekill Mountain.  Hews of brown and green surround the mountain and the trails at Plattekill stick out like a neon sign promoting Winter, bright white carved throughout the mountainscape.  The snowguns at Plattekill are still creating a haze of Winter only on the mountain, which those Spring seekers are more than happy about.  However, it looks as if Mother Nature has decided that she’s not completely done with Winter either.  With a major snowstorm in the forecast the first week in March, Plattekill still has a lot in store for the remainder of the Winter season.

winterfest croppedWinterfest, being held on Saturday, March 5th, has become a well-known fundraiser for the well-trained volunteers of the Plattekill Ski Patrol.  So, on Saturday, after a day of skiing, snowboarding or snowtubing, Plattekill will be serving up a chicken dinner prepared by the 2016 winner of the James Beard Award (like an Oscar in the restaurant world), Brooks BBQ, at 5:00pm, while there is a live performance by the band Esquela, a raffle for great prizes and wrapping it all up with the annual Torchlight Parade, a glow of serpentining red flares being carried by skiers cascading down the mountain, at 8:00pm.  This is an event suited for everyone, from the very young to the young at heart and is hoping to attract the local community as well as people visiting the area.

Also, on March 5th, the I LOVE NY bus, operated by Hampton Jitney, will be making it’s last visit to Plattekill for the season departing from New York City and Long Island.  This is the second year that the I LOVE NY program has teamed up with Plattekill to bring people to the Catskills for Winter day trips.  Andrew Lynch, Vice President of Hampton Jitney stated “The feedback on these trips has been very positive and we’re looking forward to continuing them in the 2016-17 season.”

All in all, Winter in the East has been anything but normal during the 2015-16 season, but taking the brutally warm highs and the bitterly cold lows in stride, Plattekill Mountain is putting on a pretty awesome show.

IMG 3376What is Fake-mark you ask? Read on and you will learn. But first: Platty-mark.

At other mountains you might see the odd telemark skier, but at Plattekill you’re guaranteed to see quite a few of them, often roaming in packs. Over the last four years Plattekill has become the tele Mecca of the Catskills, with gear rentals and lessons that you won’t find elsewhere. I’ve always thought that they look so elegant as they curtsy their way down the hill, so I thought I’d trade in my alpine boots for a day and free my heels. [Ed note: Remember David is British so the idea of a curtsy is in his blood. They have a royal family in the UK…]

I took a lesson with Snowsports’ School Director, Jeff Crane, who has been driving the tele-awakening at Plattekill. Our friend Cay Sophie, comes along too – she has swapped alpine for telemark for the whole season.

photoAt the top of Sundown, Jeff gets me into the correct telemark position and takes my picture. I’m thinking that this is so that I can Photoshop myself onto something steeper later, but the point is so that I could feel the right position without going anywhere. Jeff takes us down Sundown and, with the help of some drills, start to free our heels, at least a little bit. The physics of tele is the same as alpine – face downhill, move across your skis to initiate a turn etc, however alpine skiers often end up doing some sort of halfway version of the stance, or “fake-mark” as Jeff calls it.

Cay Sophie and I head over to North Face where we can practice on something a bit steeper.  We are far from expert but as she points out, beginners at telemark probably look much more elegant than beginners at alpine anyway. That’s where we find Matt Charles who runs the telemark Junior Development Program at Plattekill, and has been asked to tryout for the PSIA National Team. THIS IS A VERY BIG DEAL. Only six people from across the ENTIRE U S are asked, and only three are accepted, and this man, he skis, he teles, he teaches at Platty. And he is there working on my stance.

Matt has us jumping into a tele stance after every turn – there’s something about the jump that just makes you sink deeper into it. By the end of the day, I think I’m getting the hang of it. I tell Jeff that I’m not ready to go back to my alpine boots just yet. “Maybe you’ll never go back,” he says, with a glint in his eye.

If you want to try freeing your heels, Friday February 26th is Plattekill’s 4th Annual Telefest. Come and get free demos of the latest gear courtesy of Telemarkdown.com, a free clinic with Matt Charles, a chance to win a set of Black Diamond Traverse poles, and try Laszlo’s famous Hungarian goulash (made with local organic beef from Flaca Vaca farm).  Afterwards cool your heels to live music from The Pine Hill Playboys in the Platty Lounge.

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