Skiing the front range of Colorado by Pat McCloskey

Colorado Soul

You have to give credit to die hard skiers who are willing to get up at 4:00 AM or earlier to beat the traffic on a Saturday morning on I-70 West to get to their favorite ski area. Not really a problem during the week but as our group noticed the line of traffic coming up the mountain on Saturday, we admired the grit and determination of Colorado skiers to get their vertical. Not everyone has the opportunity to rent or own a place in the mountains and those who make the trek on Saturday morning instead of Friday night are to be admired.

After skiing for 7 days at all the EPIC areas, our group of 60+ age group guys were closing in on 300,000 vertical feet. Now to be clear, one guy raced for Dartmouth, one for Cornell, and one was the ski coach at Stowe for many years.  These guys can ski for sure but Saturday morning there was a different feel to the trip seeing the new fluff of several inches in Silverthorne with the prospect of more at the top of the Continental Divide. As we put the rental truck in 4 wheel drive, we made our way up past Keystone and viewed people who were camping and starting their back country adventures along the road. Many of the staunch outdoor people of Colorado avoid the cost of a pass or lift ticket and enjoy paying for their own vertical with their own sweat and physical climbing effort. These are not the types who looked down on us while we were clomping in our ski boots at Beaver Creek after getting off the bus from the parking lot below.( They didn’t look down on us on the slopes though- that is our domain).

Working our way early to the parking lot, we were guided to a perfect place up front of a quickly filling lot next to” The Beach”  where folks set up their tail gate parties ready for a sunny day in the Rockies on their day off. Our fearless leader had us up early to beat all the traffic and as we rode the first chair of the day, we were inspired by the grooming and the beauty of the morning.  But what we did notice was that there was a spirit of comaraderie among the faithful that made the effort to get a close parking spot, and get on the lift as soon as it opened. Lots of “whoops” and ” yee haas” as the sunny day began. No frills at the lodge but what looked like a great skillet breakfast if you wanted to partake. Also lots of cool historical pictures adorning the walls. As we viewed the East Wall, we noticed tracks again of those who delighted in climbing for their vertical within the bounds of the ski area. We had a general tour of the area which provided a different skiing experience than we had all week. Yes there were some thin spots due to the seasonal lack of really deep snow but we successfully avoided core shots to our finely tuned skis. We are a little particular as to the tuning and waxing of our boards but most of the faithful up on top of the Continental Divide that day had no such concern. They made it here and they were going to enjoy every minute of it. Core shots to the bottom of the skis be damned.

Towards the end of the day, folks started to crank up the grills, pop the beers on the Beach and pull out lawn chairs in the parking lot. It was a festival atmosphere celebrating all that is good about skiing and making the effort to get to the mountains. These Colorado people work hard during the week and listening to their stories about how they got here from parts all over the country, you get the feeling that they came to ski. They work to ski. This was a priority in their relocation. The natives are just as zealous but they have a laid back attitude that is ….well….native I suppose.

Most of the areas on the EPIC Pass are resorts. There are a lot of tourists and folks who come to be seen. But up there on the top of the divide, there are no pretentious attitudes. Live and let live and ski to die are the mottos of the day. There are no condos, Starbucks, fur coats and boots, luxury restaurants and faux Alpine base villages.(Not that there is anything wrong with that- PC Pat!) Here is great skiing and basic needs. As we shamelessly changed our clothes at the end of the day and drank a beer in the sunny parking lot, we felt part of a larger group of fun seekers who week in and week out, seek the magic of the Rockies and the communal welcome of good turns on challenging terrain. As we made our way out of the pass at the end of the day, I felt a content, ” these are my people” feeling and reveled in the majestic views at the top of Loveland Pass. Folks- if you want the real spirit of skiing, go to Arapahoe Basin or A-Basin as it is described by the Colorado faithful. For me, a much better experience than most ski areas. Squeezing out every last flake of snow this season, I thank you for reading.

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What it takes to be a skier in PA.

You Have To Be a Grinder

You know folks, you have to be a real grinder to be a skier in the mid-Atlantic region of our country. We had it rolling this winter with the cold that froze one of my pipes, and created great snow making weather. This coupled with the fronts steamrolling over the Great Lakes provided wonderful lake effect snow and then…………the bottom fell out. 78 degrees last Tuesday with torrential rains coming from, what the weather service calls, a once in a 100 year event. So we go into grind mode and ski in the rain, sleet and other borderline weather that results from low pressure coming up from the Gulf and a shift in the jet stream. But again, we are resilient here in the mid Atlantic/Ohio Valley/Laurel Highlands, and our enthusiasm never wanes.

Take Robert “Wags” Wagner for instance. He is shown above with his affable smile no matter what the weather is. A successful real estate broker, Wags has a real history of enthusiasm for the Laurel Highlands. http://www.laurelhighlandsliving.com wags@abeandwags.com A veteran Green Beret, a PSIA certified alpine and telemark instructor and ski patroller, Wags always looks at the bright side no matter what. He never says “die” and to his credit, he lit his sign again to hopefully bring more snow to the region. There is a lot of history to this sign which used to reside on the balcony of his girlfriend’s condo. Adrienne lived on the third floor and it was quite a task getting the sign up there. She is now Mrs. Wags. But in later years, it was reconstructed and it sits waiting to be lit every fall outside their home off of County Line Road. Now it is lit again hoping that we salvage some snow and ski weather in Western Pa. We need some help from above for some more winter weather which may return this weekend although now it is 66 degrees.

But again, you have to be a grinder here and be willing to ski in the rain, sleet and snow and faithfully get days in locally. I spend many a day driving to Laurel Mountain no matter what the weather. I even went to a snowmakers website http://www.chssnowmakers.com – Jason Sawin at jsawin@chssnowmakers.com , and purchased a pair of water proof snowmaking gloves to go with my Patagonia Pro Gore Tex bibs and parka. I am totally dry now that I have solved the issue of wet gloves. Like my friends, I will ski to the last flake especially here in Western Pa. Even if it is a soggy flake.

However, truth be told, you do have to subsidize your local days with out of town ski days, out west, or in New England. In the last two years, with the weather and all, I must confess that I have more ski days out of town than locally. My wife and I take trips with our friends and in a few weeks, I will finish off the season with the annual guys trip which this year is slated for Colorado. But like I tell people, you can’t always be out west unless you live there and we live in the mid-Atlantic so we make the best with trips and skiing the local scene no matter what.

But what is up with this weather, man? I have been hiking in this biblical rain., skiing, taking spin classes and trying to stay positive- like Wags. But it is tough when the meat of the winter is taken away by some gulf, moisture laden,sopping wet, low pressure system that seems to linger on and on. Good thing is the west is getting snow seeing that they had it a little thin early in the season. But hey, it could be worse. Just like I always say, ” Things always look darkest before they turn black.”……….. Just kidding!! Truly grateful for many things. Thanks for reading.

Go to Pats Blog for more stores about skiing, biking, and hiking in SW PA.

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Tough teaching an old dog new tricks Pat McClosky

It is Tough to Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

by patmccloskey

Go to Pats Blog for all the photos.

So,I am up here in the Adirondacks visiting my old friend Mike Smith who I have skied with for 45 years. I have posted about Mike before. Acrobatic pilot, skydiver, marina owner, and general gas pedal to the floor guy. That is him on the left in the picture above. The other guy is Mark Hutchinson, my friend from Vermont. Ex ski race coach at Stowe and PSIA Level III 40 year ski instructor. Hutch coached Eric Schlopy and Chip Knight who were US Ski Team members, World Cup racers, and Olympians. Hutch knows skiing and makes great turns.

Now going back to Mike on the left, he has been hampered as of late with some knee issues because of past sins on a motorcycle. So, I have been hammering him on the use of the new ski equipment which allows for easier turns and shorter lengths. Despite the knee issues, he refuses to ski on the modern skis and insists on skiing with a 20 year old pair of Heads. He ridicules us for using the new skis and vows that he never will even try them and hurls a bunch of expletives which I cannot recount here. Hutch on the other hand, is a proponent of modern ski equipment and will never even think about skiing on anything that is not state of the art. He has had two hip replacements and is skiing like he did 30 years ago. He is in good shape, skis really well, all day long.

Now Smith, because of his knee issue, will only ski half a day any more and if it is not perfectly groomed, he will not ski. He is trying to preserve his knee. So when a foot of new snow fell on Sunday night and we went to Gore, I pulled out the fat boards( 107 under foot) and enjoyed the windblown powder and the skis performed flawlessly in the cut up snow as well. Smith said no way with his old skis and went to the lodge. I told him how easy the new fat boards are but he had no interest. His curmudgeon attitude was coming out strong and he missed a perfectly good ski day

The Summit Chair at Whiteface was beckoning the next day, and as Hutch and I got ready to board, Mike said he would just ski the lower groomed trails and missed all the new fluff at the top of the mountain. Again, his old skis were limiting his fun but he refused to try the new skis that I sent up to him. He has a nice pair of Stockli GS skis in a 183 length sitting in his rack at his marina and refuses to try them. When Hutch and I rode him hard at The Cottage after skiing, over a nice Switchback Ale, he once again rattled off a bunch of lines about how he will never use skis like we use. Hutch and I had a great day at Whiteface, Mike once again packed it in at noon.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to paint a bad picture of my old friend, but he refuses to listen to advice about new equipment that would make his skiing so much more enjoyable and also easier on his knee. Mike has always been a good skier but if you don’t keep up with the times, you are limiting yourself and it only accelerates with age. Granted, Mike is a few years older that Hutch and me and has had a plethora of injuries due to his high risk hobbies. He says, ” McCloskey, I have 100,000 miles on my body and it is starting to show.” And I keep telling him that if he would only try the new skis that I sent to him, he would be so much happier. He said, ” when the Heads break, maybe I will try them.” That is the closest thing I have gotten up here to a capitulation. For a guy who has a successful business, survived 3 plane crashes, and has jumped close to 2500 times out of an airplane, he has lived all of his dreams for sure. We love the guy.

The tough part is that Hutch and I ski all day. We can do that because we take care of ourselves and we use equipment that helps our skiing. Mike admitted that he was sorry that he could not ski all day with us, but it is not for lack of skill, or even the knee, it is his refusal to come into the 21st century and it is costing him time on the hill with his buddies. He is an excellent skier. He could be so much better. He also needs to take care of that knee somehow with some surgery that would render it new again. But that is another discussion that did not go well.

Again, I was a smiling dog on top of Whiteface, and so was Hutch. But I missed my old friend when he threw in the towel and went in at lunchtime. So, what lies ahead? I think I have finally admitted to myself that I will not change Mike’s mind and it will only be him that makes any change. That seems to be a recurring theme with me anyhow and I need to let things go and let people make their own decisions. I can’t force my opinions and beliefs on anyone. I need to let people decide for themselves and if I have presented my case and they don’t follow the advice or the suggestion, I need to let it go. I am hoping that my buddy will get competitive again and get on the new boards and ski with his pals who so desperately want to ski with him. He is a crusty old tough guy, but I know he wants to be able to ski like he has always done in the past. So, if you see him up at the Pilot Knob Marina on Lake George, tell him to hang those old Heads up over his fireplace and get with the times. But don’t tell him I said so, because he will throw you in the lake. Thanks for reading and stay current in all that you do.

patmccloskey | February 8, 2018 at 11:47 am | Tags: Gore Mountain Ski Area, The Cottage- Lake Placid, Whiteface Ski Area | Categories: Aging, Friendship, outdoor activities, outdoor sports, Outdoors, Skiing, Uncategorized, Winter, winter sports | URL: https://wp.me/p31Q99-TP

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Pat McCloskey’s thoughts on Laurel Mt. Ski Area

The Return of a Classic Ski Area

by patmccloskey

I have skied a lot of areas in my time and most of them were in New England where there are the giant, corporately run areas and the smaller privately held areas. The smaller areas always held my interest because they had a sense of tradition and a feel of skiing in another time. Recently, in our neck of the woods, down here in the Banana Belt, Laurel Mountain came to life again this year. It went from being one of the lost ski areas to a vibrant, resurgence of a classic ski area reminiscent of those areas in New England. In fact, there is a tie to Mt. Cranmore in the Mt. Washington Valley of New Hampshire. Apparently, when the Mellon family first had the idea to develop a ski area in 1939 for the members of the prestigious Rolling Rock Club in Ligonier, they hired Hannes Schneider to lay out the trails. Hannes Schneider was the ski school director at Mt. Cranmore who was brought to the US from Austria by the industrialist Harry Gibson, a friend of Richard King Mellon. Schneider is widely acclaimed as the father of ski instruction in this country.

When you first pull past the stone entrance hut on the mountain road, you feel as if you are driving back in time. The parking lot is never full and as you make your way to the top of the mountain lodge which has been recently refurbished, you can relax in an Adirondack chair by a roaring fire and put your boots on. You can then take your brown bag lunch inside or take advantage of some good comfort food in the new bar area in the base of the lodge. The picture windows look out on the whole Ligonier Valley which is not only scenic during the day, but a sight at night if you choose to night ski. The refurbished snowmaking by HKD and the new Pistenbully groomer make the Wildcat slope a delight to ski and it is known to have the steepest vertical in the state.

I remember skiing Laurel when it was run by the state and had some amazing powder days there with Frank Pipak, a friend who took the PSIA exam the same year that I did. Although, I spent the winter prior to that exam in Sugarloaf, Maine, I often credit my runs down Lower Wildcat with preparing me for the steeper terrain that was utilized in the exam. My friend Hiller Hardie always says, ” if you want to get your legs ready for the western trips, lapping Wildcat at Laurel will put you in good form.” Your legs get a work out on lower Wildcat with the steep vertical pitch.

When Seven Springs Mountain Resort decided to bring Laurel back to life this season, along with the DCNR of the State of Pennsylvania, it was time to promote it. I have told a lot of friends about my good times at Laurel and how they must try it. Like my two snowboarding friends, Tina and Mark Sauers who were totally enthralled with the area and the family feel to the place.

We have some challenges down here in the banana belt with the weather being on the edge of rain and snow. But credit Laurel with good snowmaking and grooming to make it possible for enthusiasts like me to get the most days out of rather dismal early winter conditions. I have a lot of good memories of skiing at Laurel back in the day including fun times with my son Jack and our visits to Fort Ligonier and the Pie Shop in Laughlintown at the bottom of the mountain.

Two years ago, Hiller, John McWilliams, Jeff Balicki and John O’Toole and yours truly used our snowshoes to hike into the closed area and after unloading our packs, took two runs down Lower Wildcat. Four hours plus of hiking for two runs was “having to have it” and it showed our devotion to an area which we all loved. It is so nice now to have Carl Skylling’s new Sky Trac chairlift instead of bootpacking to claim our vertical.

So if you are a local, get over to Laurel. You won’t regret it and if you are visiting, check it out. Lower Wildcat will surprise you even if you are a veteran of steep skiing from points beyond. I am so happy it is back. Hannes is probably up there smiling at all of us. Thanks for reading.

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Laurel Mountain scheduled to open

Excerpts from recent article in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.

“Finally, Laurel Mountain will be open this year for skiing. It’s finally going to happen — that’s been the feeling around here,” Buchan said.

The resort atop Laurel Mountain, along Westmoreland’s border with Somerset County, closed at the end of the 2004-05 ski season. Seven Springs signed a 10-year lease with the state in 2008 to operate the Laurel Mountain slopes.

On Friday, workers were making progress on the ski lodge after the resort was infused with $6.5 million from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Buchan said the upgrades include a modern ski lift, significant improvements to the trails, snow-making equipment and nearly double the snow-making capacity from a new pond with a 27 million-gallon capacity.

Ligonier Construction Co. in Laughlintown was awarded the $5.158 million general construction contract. Merit Electrical Group in Oakmont received a $369,800 contract.

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Updates to skiing at Hidden Valley Resort

Free Weekend

This is an excerpt from a recent article in the Post Gazette by Larry Walsh. Hidden Valley purchased two Prinoth BR 350 snow-grooming machines, installed portable snowmaking on Bobcat and cleared glades and the off-loading area at the top of Avalanche Quad. Updates to the lodge included remodeling of the Alpine and Yukon rooms, seating in the Sunrise Sunset café and now carpeting.  See you on the slopes.

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Tales of 7 Springs Past

FOLLOW PAT’S BLOG

Standard Race

For all of us growing up at Seven Springs Mountain Resort here in Pa., Lars Skylling, the Director of Skiing, was like a god to us. Handsome, with the Swedish accent, and great skier to boot, with Stein Eriksen form. We all looked up to Lars and wanted to emulate him on the slopes. Lars is shown here in this picture below, receiving his award for induction into the Pennsylvania Snow Sports Hall of Fame. He has the Tyrolean jacket on with the green tie- third from left in the back. Great guy, we all love Lars. He is retired now but I had the opportunity to ski with him a couple of years ago in Vail and for a guy in his elder years, he still made elegant turns. IMG_4952
So, when we were kids, Lars was the ski school director and he started an open race every Sunday after the day session ended that was called the Standard Race. My buddy Porter said it was called the Head Standard Race but in any event, it was an open, four gate flyer from the top of the front side of the mountain down to the finish line in front of the old warming hut. If you came within a certain percentage of the time that Lars laid down, you received either a gold, silver, or bronze “7” pin that we all clamored for with every run that we made. As we all got older and into our early teens, we were able to finally get that gold “7” because we were catching up to the master. However, Lars threw a surprise for all of us when he added the upper trail on the Stowe slope and jumped the corner when he made a right hand turn down on the Cortina Trail. Whoa!!!!! We all were taken by surprise and the conversation on the hill that day and on the chairlift to the start was whether we had the guts to jump the corner like Lars did. If we didn’t, there was no way we would get the gold so we all had to see if we had the bravado to do it and if we survived, we got the coveted pin. photo
One year, I decided that if I leaned forward at the finish line and tried to break the beam with my hand, I might be a little faster. Unfortunately, I blew out of my bindings when I lurched forward and took out the whole timing device and the electric eye. John Fraser and his dad came running out of the hut to see if I was ok, but the real challenge was to get the timing device up and running again. As we all crossed the finish line, Bob Rose would herd us into the station wagon that he had strategically placed outside the warming hut and the North Hills clan would eventually make it back to Pittsburgh with a dinner for the crowd at my folk’s house. My parents didn’t ski but they sure could cook and entertain. That was their contribution. All the kids talked about the race and how we ended up. If you got the gold pin, you were a stud, and everyone knew that the next step was the day that you would finally be able to beat Lars straight up. That day eventually came for most of us as we got older and faster. But no matter the outcome, we all loved Lars and if we were able to finally best his pacesetter time, it was a milestone in our skiing career that we would never forget.

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Seven Springs to start skiing on November 28

7 Springs halfpipe

If you are not on the resort newsletter Seven Springs announced they will open for skiing November 28, and kick off weekend is that weekend. A recent trip to both resorts shows all snow guns going full blast as the snowmaking team takes advantage of early cold weather. The extended forecast shows cold enough temperatures to continue the snowmaking effort up to the holidays with only a few warm days. Photo is of the Seven Springs half pipe LAST YEAR. Sorry riders, will be a few months before that one is ready. Skiii Yaaa.

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WHITE FRIDAY expected at Hidden Valley and 7 Springs.

Cold temperatures and unexpected snow have set the stage for both resorts to open this Friday at 9:00 for snow sports. The snow guns have been blasting at both resorts since the first of the week so there is a solid base on limited terrain. Go to the resorts website to see what will be open. Here is a quote from the Hidden Valley Website.

“We are committed to providing our guests with excellent snowmaking and grooming. Over the course of the weekend, our mountain crew took advantage of every opportunity to make snow in preparation for opening day,” said Eric Mauck, CEO of Seven Springs and Hidden Valley. “As of Monday morning, both resorts have at least eight inches of snow and in some places drifts as high as eight feet. Snow accumulations of these amounts are astounding for this time of year. We are anticipating the arrival of an abundance of natural snow later this week, which will add to outstanding skiing and snowboarding conditions. We always strive to open the slopes as early as possible and provide our guests with incredible conditions and this weekend will be a testament to our commitment.”

Seven Springs and Hidden Valley will be open 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Fri., Nov. 29-Sun., Dec. 1, 2013. Hours of operations for dates beyond Dec. 1, will be available later this week.

 

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Plenty of snow on the slopes in the Laurel Highlands

We were just up both resorts in the last few days and want to report that there is plenty of snow on the slopes and all slopes and trails are open. Even though the weather has been mild it does not diminish the snow on slopes much since it has been packed and groomed. With evening temperatures forecast in the 20’s next week snow making will start back up and conditions should be AWESOME with spring like conditions. Hey, I was on Ski Patrol for about 15 years and believe me I would rather be out skiing in 40F than 10F with 20 mph of wind. This is great weather to enjoy snow sports and road conditions are dry and clear. Don’t miss these nice days in the middle of winter, trust me that the cold will come back.

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What is available at 7 Springs for 2011

Here is a quick recap of what is available at the Springs for the 2011 Ski Season. For more detail go to THEIR WEBSITE.

Skiing: 285 acres of slopes and trails on a 2995 mountain with a 750 foot drop. Snowmaking on all slopes, 5 terrain parks with the #1 rated East Coast half pipe and terrain park by Transworld Snowboarding readers.

Winter Activities: Tubing park, snowcat rides, snowshoe tours, sleigh rides, snowmobile fides, UTV tours, Sporting Clays, and more.

Inside activities: Game room, Spa, swimming, miniature golf, bowling, fitness room, racquetball, roller skating, shops and boutiques.

Dining: More than a dozen restaurants and eateries from speciality, buffet, and fine dining.

Apre Ski: 4 bars and lounges to include the kicking Foggy Goggle.

Lodging: Main lodge hotel and on ground properties with shuttle service up to 4 Bedrooms.

Cold temps and steady snowmaking have conditions about as good as they get. SKI YAA.

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Hidden Valley Spring Carnival

Hidden Valley Resort will present the annual Spring Carnival March 6 – 7, 2010.  More than 220 inches of snow this winter have provided awesome snow conditions this March, and the time has come to celebrate the fact that spring is just around the corner! Guests will enjoy a full schedule of games, activities, and entertainment at the third annual Spring Carnival.

Spring Carnival kicks off on Saturday morning with the opening of the Hidden Valley boardwalk. The Ski Lodge plaza level will be converted into a boardwalk scene.  Vendors will be selling barbecued goodies, funnel cakes, chocolate delicacies and other treats.  The entire family will enjoy contests and carnival games, free caricatures, face painting, and a strolling magician.

There will be a wide variety of events for everyone to participate in during the carnival.  The events are all about having fun with the entire family. With seasonal temperatures in the 40s or warmer and hopefully plenty of sunshine, Spring Carnival will be the perfect time to get out and enjoy the incredible snow conditions.

A few events like the Family Obstacle Course and The Captains Awesome Pirate Adventure Race will require people to have skis or a snowboard and navigate various challenges as they descend the beginner area. Other amusing activities include a tug-o-war, snow volleyball, a hula hoop contest, snow rafting and a snow golf – closest to the pin contest.  For the more competitive types, the resort offers a Giant Slalom race.  The third and final event of the HV Park Series will take place on Sunday, March 7. This event will be a boarder/skier cross competition. There will be a registration fee for the HV Park Series event and the Giant Slalom race.  Events that take place on the slopes do require a valid ski ticket.

The kids will also find plenty of fun beyond the boardwalk scene. Youngsters will have an opportunity to play on the Snowcano near the ski lodge or compete in the Kids Crazy Hat and Helmet Race.  Hidden Valley is working with the Family Life Fund of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh’s Foundation to present the Family Fun Zone and Sweet & Treat Bar. This area will feature children’s crafts, cookie decorating, smoothies and candy.  There will be a nominal fee to the Family Fun Zone activities with proceeds benefiting the Family Life Fund.

Make plans to spend the entire weekend at Hidden Valley with our attractively priced lodging packages which start at just $118 per person and includes lodging and ski tickets. Call 814.443.8000 to make reservations.

For more information on the Spring Carnival and everything Hidden Valley has to offer visit our web site at www.hiddenvalleyresort.com.

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Great snow for upcoming XC events

By Larry Walsh, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Rick Garstka of Munhall waxed enthusiastic while describing the quality and quantity of snow that has fallen in the Laurel Highlands since Dec. 28:

“Bonanza.” “Heaven sent.” “Phenomenal.”

“We’ve been waiting a long time for this,” said Garstka, the president of the Pennsylvania Cross Country Skiers’ Association. “The season has gotten off to a super start, the best in years.”

And downhill and cross-country skiers, snowboarders, snowtubers, snowshoers, sled-, saucer- and tray-sliders and tobogganists are reveling in it.

“We haven’t seen snowfall like this since the 2002-03 season when we received a total of 208 inches,” said Dick Barron, director of ski and snowboard operations at snow-blessed Seven Springs.

As of 4 p.m. yesterday, the resort had received 57 inches of natural snow since Dec. 28 and more was on the way.

“We’ll have more than 60 inches, perhaps much more, before this system moves on [this] evening,” Barron said.

Seven Springs received the most new snow of any resort in the country — 27 inches — during a 48-hour period this week, according to OnTheSnow.com.

The Web site posts snowfall information it receives from resorts. Top honors for the most new snow in 24, 48 or 72 hours usually goes to the big western resorts.

“We received a total of 78 inches for the season so far,” Barron said. “It’s wonderful.”

Garstka agrees.

“We’ve had smiles on our faces since December,” he said. “We hope to have plenty of snow for our scheduled events in January and February.”

Garstka was referring to the association’s free cross-country lessons for adults and children at Laurel Ridge State Park next weekend and Jan. 23-24, Feb. 6 and Feb. 20. It also has a Nordic Picnic Jan. 23 and the annual Pennsylvania Nordic Championship Races Feb. 7.

The lessons, also offered to those with intermediate skills, will begin at 1 p.m. in front of the rental concession. Although you don’t need to be a member of PACCSA to participate, a trail pass is necessary and can be purchased for $6.

Garstka said beginners will learn double-poling, uphill and downhill techniques and the diagonal stride. The instructors then will take them out on an easy trail to practice what they’ve just learned and will provide individual critiques along the way.

A complete set of equipment — skis, boots and poles — can be rented from the concessionaire at the park (724-455-7303). Rental equipment also is available at Thrifty Ski Rental in Donegal (724-593-6404), Route 31 Board and Ski in Somerset (1-814-443-1282) and Peak Ski and Board near Boyce Park in Plum (412-793-6600).

Be advised: It’s first-come, first-served. Get there early, especially when snow conditions are as great as they are now.

The association has a cross-country ski team — the Yellow Jackets — for children ages 5 to 12. Kids of all abilities, including beginners, are welcome. Garstka said the youngsters learn to ski by using skill sessions and games based on Cross Country Canada’s Bunnyrabbit and Jackrabbit developmental programs.

The team skis Saturdays in January and February at Laurel Ridge State Park and will make occasional trips to Kooser State Park and other locations close to Pittsburgh.

Although registration for this season has closed, parents can learn more about the team by taking their children to the free lesson sessions and/or the Nordic Picnic.

“Cross-country skiing is a great way to stay fit during the winter,” Garstka said. It can be as energetic as you want it to be — from walking pace to race speed.”

A PACCSA membership costs $6 per individual or $9 per family. For more information, go to paccsa.org.

Larry Walsh writes about recreational snowsports for the Post-Gazette.

Read more: click here

 www.ABEandWAGS.com

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Record Snowfall in the Laurel Highlands

Seven Springs Tops In The Country For 48-Hour Snowfall

Seven Springs Mountain Resort just topped the list of ski resorts nationwide for total natural snowfall in a 48-hour time frame!

The list created by OnTheSnow.com places Seven Springs at number one in the country with a natural snowfall total of 27 inches in 48 hours. Since January 1, the popular Laurel Highlands resort has received 35 inches. According to the National Weather Service, Seven Springs is expected to receive 14 – 16 additional inches by the morning of Saturday, January 9, 2010.

“Conditions are phenomenal here at Seven Springs,” added Dick Barron, Director of Ski Operations. “This winter has been shaping up to be one for the record books as it’s been quite some time since we have seen a winter like this.”

The abundance of snow is also allowing for construction and snowmaking for the creation of the resort’s Superpipe, which is ranked number one on the East Coast by Transworld Snowboarding. This project is coming along smoothly and the pipe could be open by month’s end.

if you haven’t made plans to come up for this weekend, now’s the time to do so! The hotel has rooms available for the weekend, as well as condos and cabins. Please call (866) 437-1300 for more information or to make a reservation.

MLK Weekend Package
January 15 – 18, 2010

Make the most of the three day weekend and make a new memory at Seven Springs! This new package features two nights of lodging, breakfast, unlimited skiing during your stay, snow tubing and up to two kids age 11 and under are FREE! This package starts at only $299 per adult. Don’t delay, book today! Learn more…

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