Class of 2020
Innovator and Leader in West Virginia Snow Sports
Area Operations and/or Management or Development Competition
Harold "Chip" Chase
Chips Chase is the co-founder and operator of White Grass Ski Touring Center. Chip, a self-professed "Air Force brat" grew up Alpine skiing in New England, Alaska, and Colorado. Chip's parents were originally from New England and were avid skiers. Chip was introduced to cross-country and telemark skiing while visiting his sister in New England. He soon developed a passion for the sports.
While living in Northern Virginia, Chip met his second wife, Laurie, who was from Strasburg, Virginia. The couple moved to the Shenandoah Valley near Crider, VA, and set up a "homesteading" life. It was at Crider that Chip got the idea to start a cross-country center. In 1979, Chip began operating a cross-country center on Shenandoah Mountain. However, after a few years of short winters, Chip decided it was time for a change.
Chips decided to look closer at West Virginia after reading an article in Nordic Ski Magazine. The article was about a United States Ski Association (USSA) sanctioned cross-country ski race held in Davis, WV. The race was part of the Alpine Festival. Chip decided to visit Davis and took along his friend Winslow Ayer. On that trip, the two met Bill Moore, the Canaan Valley State Park Naturalist who operated Canaan's cross-country center in the winter.
With the help of Bill, Chip and Winslow, pored over area maps. They decided to explore the Cabin Mountain area (off Freeland Road) that was once home to Weiss Knob Ski Resort operated by Robert Barton in the 1960s. Chip and Winslow paid $1 each to ride the chair lift at Canaan Valley Resort. They skied to Bald Knob and back into the old Weiss Knob area from the top of Canaan.
After skiing all day, Chip and Winslow came down Forest Service Road 80 and found the lodge and trails that made up the former Weiss Knob Resort. With the help of realtor Cary Reed, Chip contacted the property owner, Randall "Doc" Reed, PhD, a professor at Ohio State University. Chip proposed leasing and operating a ski facility on the Reed family property.
In the summer of 1981, Chip and Winslow planned and developed what would soon become White Grass Ski Touring Center. They made renovations to the old ski lodge. They also surveyed the existing trails and evaluated their sustainability for cross-country skiing. Chip and Winslow, along with Tom Preston (a patroller at Canaan Valley Resort), pooled their funds and created a partnership. That fall, they made a trip to New England to purchase ski rental equipment. White Grass Touring Center officially opened in December 1981.
Nearly four decades later, Chip still "Spreads the Nordic Dream". Thousands of people flock to White Grass to experience spectacular Nordic skiing, fantastic food, and a fun, authentic atmosphere courtesy of Chip. He continues to lead the Chase for snow each winter.