I’ve been banned from the Eurobungee at Snowshoe! The Eurobungee, AKA Bungee Trampoline, is one of the amusement devices in the new Big Top fun center at Snowshoe Mountain. The 15,000 square foot fun center, attached to the Shaver’s Center, has games, a moon bounce, a stage, a movie screen, snack bar, a gyroscope to spin around within… and the Eurobungee. The device consists of a trampoline with bungee cords suspended on either side from towers. The bungee cords are attached to the sides of a rock climbing harness worn by the jumper. The bungees help to center the jumper on the trampoline and increase the jumping height.
My wife, Karen, and I went up to Snowshoe for the Demo Days weekend (Dec. 9-11, 2005) and stopped in at the grand opening of the center on Friday night. As part of the opening celebration, you could try each amusement free once. I tried the gyroscope first. You stand in the center of a first circular ring and an operator clamps your feet down, sort of like the old gravity boots. A seat belt is tightened around your waist and you grab onto handles at the top of the ring. The first circular ring is suspended so as to rotate within a second ring which rotates within a third ring which can spin about a central axis. Once the operator releases the rings, you throw your weight around and start spinning in all directions. It was quite the workout to keep revolving and rotating. But once I got my momentum going, I was spinning head over heels forwards, backwards, and sideways like a spinning top. It’s not something you want to try after eating a big plate of nachos. To stop, you just relax and the rings slow down and come to a rest. The operator then relocks each ring and unclamps your feet.
After the gyroscope, I queued up for the bungee. You have to sign an additional waiver to use the bungee and cannot weigh over 200 lbs. A few kids were lined up ahead of me and were attempting flips, unsuccessfully. I’ve been on the Eurobungee at Wintergreen a couple of times and was flipping all over the place. I once managed a triple back flip into a double front flip. Just before I reached the front of the queue Karen noticed that the rules stated no one 20 or over was allowed to flip. That seemed a fairly discriminatory rule. So I planned to ignore it. A red haired woman suited me up in the harness and told me that I was not allowed to flip. I tried to convince her and her coworker that I was 19. They didn’t buy it. So I asked what would happen if I flipped. They repeated “no flipping.” I argued that the rule made no sense. I weighed less than 200 lbs, I signed a waiver and I had just been on something far more likely to cause a person to become sick, i.e. puke. They called over the manager and he said the rules say no flipping for anyone 20 or over and those are the rules. Period. I figured that the worst they could do was throw me off. So I promised that I wouldn’t TRY to flip. They tensioned up the bungees and I started to jump. Well, wouldn’t you know it? I accidentally did a back flip. Then I accidentally did a front flip. The red haired woman told me I had to stop jumping and come down. I said okay. But darn it all, I did two more flips before I could stop jumping. Red told me that I was setting a bad example when I climbed out of the harness.
The next morning, Saturday, Karen and I hit the slopes for a fantastic day of skiing. Blue skies, sunshine and temps climbing up to the mid-thirties. About 20 slopes were open. We spent most of our time on Grabhammer in the morning. It’s an expert rated slope. But there is really only one short steep part on it. The rest is a wide open cruiser. We moved over to the intermediate trail J-hook and Lower Widowmaker for the afternoon when the line for the Ballhooter lift started to become crowded. Expert rated Upper Widowmaker remained closed.
We both demoed lots of different skis. All of the all-mountain skis performed just like or worse than my old K2 Twos. I thought the Nordicas were real dogs - slow and sluggish and tail heavy. Karen, however, liked women’s Olympia Victory XBS because they were heavier and stiffer than her Volkls. I was impressed with the Atomic SX11’s. The 170s felt like they were 210s and they gripped the hard pack snow better than anything I’ve ever tried. Just the tiniest bit of toe pressure caused them to carve perfect arcs. There was no skidding or floating in the turns. I couldn’t cheat my way down the mountain but actually had to carve every turn. And they were FAST!!!! On the other end of the spectrum, the Fisher RX-9 (voted Ski Magazine’s 2004 Ski of the Year) was the worst thing I’ve ever strapped onto my feet. I would have had more control skiing on strips of cardboard. The RX-9s skidded with no control on hard packed snow. I’m not talking about ice -; just regular hard-pack. I dug the edges in as hard as I could and NOTHING happened. It was the first time I’ve ever been afraid on skis. Luckily we had gone down the beginner trail to connect with the Widowmaker lift.
I returned the skis to the Fisher rep and asked if the edges were very dull. He felt them and said they were still sharp and that other skiers had mentioned that the skis were having trouble on the ice. I strapped on my trusty K2’s and went down the same slope. I had no problems. There wasn’t any ice. Karen and I went down J-hook a few times late in the day and you could see sections of polished ice. And I again had no problems skiing on it with skis that hadn’t been tuned or sharpened in over two years. Ice is what we ski on around here!
Mid-day we stopped for some pizza and revisited the Big Top. The same red haired woman was working the Eurobungee. I asked if I could take a ride. She very matter of fact told me that I’ve been banned. Oh well. You can demo lots of different skis, fly down expert terrain, jump in the terrain park, do all sorts of dangerous tricks on the rails and tabletops and half-pipe if you are a snowboarder - with no age restrictions. But you can’t do flips on a trampoline if you are over 20. Go figure.
After skiing Saturday I took my boots to the 4848 shop to have them adjusted. I had bought new Rozzie boots at the end of the season last year and they felt too big. I was on the last hook on each buckle to make them snug. Another skier told me about Melissa the Boot Goddess who could do wonders. Melissa had me try my boots wearing just the shells and confirmed that I had the right sized shell. The problem was my flat feet didn’t take up enough volume. So she added a couple of layers to the foot beds and presto. My boots fit like gloves! And it only cost fifteen dollars.
On Sunday we woke to colder temps and snow flurries. I called guest services and begged my way to a late check-out of 12:30 (instead of the usual 11:00 a.m.) A few more runs had been opened - but not Widowmaker or the Western Territory. We again spent most of our short three hours on Grabhammer and J-hook. The intermediate slopes Gandy Dancer and Skipjack were also in fine shape, making for easy carving runs on a layer of fresh snow. Karen and I demoed a few more pairs of skis. But nothing caught our fancy. The snow started to come down heavier as we left the mountain and snow guns were blasting on Widowmaker and the Upper Ball Hooter. With continued cold weather this week, rumor has it that Snowshoe may even start blowing snow on the Western Territory. The Silver Creek slopes are also scheduled to open this Friday, Dec 16. This upcoming weekend and the holidays should be spectacular at Snowshoe. Can’t wait to get back. Hopefully someone new will be managing the bungee trampoline.
Matthew Graham is a skier as well as a hang glider and paraglider pilot, SCUBA diver, cavern diver, equestrian, polo player, sailor, hiker, biker, rock climber, paddler, and skater. He's also yoga teacher and certified personal trainer and has dabbled in just about every other sport, even stunt car driving and bull riding! He has written for the Washington Post, Washingtonian Magazine, USA Weekend Magazine, Hooked on the Outdoors, Richmond Magazine, Chesapeake Life Magazine, Metro Sports, American Fitness, Blue Ridge Outdoors, Recreation News and numerous other outdoor and travel publications.
Join the conversation by logging in.
Don't have an account? Create one here.