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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Fast Freddie by Pat McCloskey

Fast Freddie

by patmccloskey

The first time I skied with Fred Siget was in Snowshoe, West Virginia with Larry Walsh of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. I had some limited training but had experience as a ski instructor. So, as my maiden voyage with a visually impaired skier, I had the original blind skier in our area in front of me headed down Cupp Run. Right turn, left turn, right turn, stay, stay………..all of a sudden the only tree in play was before me as I yelled “crash” and Fred sat down on his way to running into the only tree within hundreds of yards. I felt so bad, but Fred dusted himself off with a smile and said, ” Pat- don’t worry about it at all. This will be one of many.” And we continued down the slope. This began a 40 year friendship with the one and only Fast Freddie Siget.

Fred lost his vision as a result of an accident with a high pressure hose when he was a volunteer fireman. As devastating as this injury was, he was undaunted. He became the first computer programmer for Koppers Corporation that was visually impaired. He continued dancing, and he learned to ski with guys like Larry Walsh, Jim Conley, Lynne(Kravetz) Hartnett, Shorty Leco and Micky Hutchko. People who took the time to work with Fred and make him into a pretty good skier by the time I came along. Fred always had ideas on how to make things easier for blind skiers and how to improve guiding techniques. He was the first guy I knew that purchased a transmitter where the guide had a microphone and he had an ear piece which made calling out commands easier and understandable with snowmaking machines roaring in the background. I used it one time standing on top of a slope and calling commands to Fred as he skied by himself down to the chairlift. With his” Blind Skier” jacket on, people were shocked viewing his run. In the bar afterwards, we had some fun with Herman Dupre the owner of Seven Springs Mountain Resort. I put the microphone on and guided Fred over in front of Herman and told him to tell Herman how much he admired his red flannel shirt. Herman was stunned and later remarked to me laughing that he was starting to “get hot thinking about all the free passes I gave to Fred and now he is telling me how much he likes my shirt!” Hilarious.

Fred was a bus driver in the old days and always missed driving. One night after skiing, I asked Fred if he wanted to drive again. He was puzzled. I took him to the upper parking lot at Seven Springs and guided him into the drivers seat of my Blazer and let him have the wheel. I gave him commands like skiing. Right turn, left turn, stay straight, …the smile on his face was priceless. Then we did some donuts and the laughter was infectious. Fred never forgot that night.

Fred was always anxious to help new guides. He put himself at risk during the training but always felt that it was worth it not only to train guides that could assist him, but to help the other visually impaired skiers who were beginning to show up at the BOLD( Blind Outdoor Leisure Development) outings at Seven Springs.

Fred was a local legend due to his skiing. People knew him and admired him as they skied past him or saw him making turns from the chairlift. They knew him in Vail, Colorado where he skied regularly with the Mon Valley and Pittsburgh Ski Clubs. But perhaps the most compelling thing about Fred was his kindness and appreciation for his fellow skiers and guides. He always remembered your birthday and when he called me, he sang, ” Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, get plastered, you bastard, Happy Birthday to you.” That made me laugh out loud every year. He would always ask about my wife Janet, and my son Jack. Jack would ski with us when he was a young guy and Fred always was interested in how he was doing in school and in his sports. Fred always thought about other people. He was popular for his skiing for sure, but as a person, you could not get a better guy who was always interested in others and never talked much about himself.

We lost Fred this fall at 94 years of age. Although he had an amazing life, we will miss him. I always think of him when I see people who have heartache in their lives or something that has tragically shaped their future. Fred never let his accident slow him down. He always said that he did more as a visually impaired individual than he ever did before losing his sight. He took a perceived bad thing and turned it into opportunity. Shouldn’t we all learn from that lesson? R.I.P Fred, I will miss you for sure. Thanks for reading folks.

patmccloskey | October 19, 2017 at 11:31 am | Tags: Blind Outdoor Leisure Development, Seven Springs Mountain Resort | Categories: Aging, Blind Skiing, Inspiration, outdoor activities, outdoor sports, Outdoors, recreation, Skiing, Volunteering, Winter, winter sports | URL: http://wp.me/p31Q99-Ri

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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 7 Springs ski slopes

7 Springs Snowmaking

This is excerpts of a November 15 PG article by Larry Fine. 7 Springs purchased 4 Pisten Bully ParkPro snow groomers and 5 HKD SV 10 Impulse snowmaking tower at the top of North Face. Snow Boarding magazine rated the Spot as the 2 best boarding area on the East Coast. They have created an Uphill Ski Access program from 7 to 9AM for skiers who want to skin up the slopes. They are also opening the Highlands Market on County Line Road just outside of the main entrance. It will have seating for 30, offer house made food, a large craft beer selection, and grocery. Foggy Brews on the second floor of the base lodge will be open every day during ski season.

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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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Bids out for Laurel Mt. Ski Area

Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, 10:51 p.m.

Bids for general and electrical construction contracts at the Laurel Mountain ski area have been opened and are under review by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Five companies submitted bids for the general construction proposal, which carried a cost estimate of $1 million to $5 million. The work includes demolition and replacement of one chair lift; site clearing and tree removal; improvements to snow-making, water storage, pumping and distribution; upgrades to electrical service and regrading of ski trails.

Six companies submitted bids for the electrical construction proposal, which had a cost estimate of $500,000 to $1 million. That portion of the project includes supplying and installing exhaust fans, site electrical upgrades, electrical work for a ski lift and trail lighting.

“Our goal is to award the winning bid and notify within a week,” barring any questions about the submissions, said Terry Brady, deputy press secretary for the department.

Laurel Mountain Ski Resort opened in 1939 for Rolling Rock Club members. In 1964, the property was given to the state with the stipulation that no summertime activities would take place there and no lodging would be built.

The resort closed from 1989 to 1999, then reopened and closed several times between 1999 and 2005 because of mild winters and financial problems. In 2008, Seven Springs Mountain Resort signed a 10-year lease to operate the site as a concession.

For general construction, the apparent low bidders and their three base bid amounts are:

• Ligonier Construction Inc., $4,623,000; $5,048,000; $5,158,000

• A. Merante Contracting, $4,897,711; $5,117,711; $5,240,711

• James T. O’Hara Inc., $5,670,000; $5,990,000; $6,170,000

• Clearwater Construction Inc., $5,805,000; $6,150,000; $6,425,000

•CH&D Enterprises, $9,747,117; $10,066,530; $10,386,500

For electrical construction, the apparent low bidders and first two base bid amounts are:

• Merit Electrical Group, $353,000;

• Mashan Inc., $399,900;

• Westmoreland Electric, $449,000;

• TSB Inc. doing business as Schultheis Electric, $494,200;

• David W. Jones Co., $546,700;

• Power Contracting Co., $587,149

The amounts for the companies’ third base bids are:

• Merit Electrical Group, $369,800

• Mashan Inc., $429,500

• Westmoreland Electric, $471,000

• TSB Inc. doing business as Schultheis Electric, $518,500

• David W. Jones Company, $585,700

• Power Contracting Co., $614,600

Both sets of bid results were to be opened Aug. 6, but the general construction bid opening was delayed because of last minute fine-tuning of the proposal’s wording, Brady said. The department didn’t immediately award the electrical construction contract because it wanted to award contracts for both portions of the project at the same time, he said.

Nicole Chynoweth is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2862 or nchynoweth@tribweb.com.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/westmoreland/8937738-74/construction-electrical-inc#ixzz3m6qtBEJi
Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook

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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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Ski Gear Stolen at Seven Springs

This is an excerpt of the police blotter and article by City Editor Rick Kazmer in the Daily American, Somerset PA, January 13, 2001.

On January 5 state police received 41 complaints of stolen skis and snowboards taken from people who were at Seven Springs Mountain Resort between December 4 and January 4, 2011. Since the average value of this equipment is easily $500 this amounts to possibly over $20,000 of theft.

Anna Weltz, Seven Springs Spokeswoman said “This is average. It’s sad but true.” One thing to point out is that none of the equipment was taken from storage areas.  This is ski gear left leaning up against a wall or table. There is unlimited ski check for $2.00 where the equipment is secured in a guarded room.  All the resorts in the Laurel Highlands offer racks to lock up equipment when you are not using it.

Lesson Learned, would you leave your purse or wallet with $500 in it on a picnic table in a public venue? Don’t do the same with your equipment.  Check online sites like Craigs List and E Bay to see if you can find your gear as most of the gear is sold there. You might be able to buy it back at about 1/3 of its value and it you have a serial number bust these creeps. Don’t be a victim of theft, use ski check or lock your gear if it is not on your feet. Ski YAAA.

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Hidden Valley and Subaru sponsor Master the Mountain Event

Subaru Master the Mountain

From the news page on www.HiddenValleyResort.com

Hidden Valley Resort and Subaru of America, Inc. are once again teaming up to bring the Master the Mountain event to the Laurel Highlands region.

Subaru is visiting Hidden Valley twice during the 2010-2011 season, the first time on January 16 and 17, 2011 and then again on February 13 and 14, 2011. During each of the Master the Mountain events, there will be a number of great activities in which guests can take part.

During the Master the Mountain events, Hidden Valleys ski school, Wintersports U, will offer participants Confidence in Motion with personal skiing tips. These free sessions of varying difficulty will appeal to skiers and snowboarders of all ability levels.

In Breaking the Wedge, skiers and snowboarders with limited experience can learn the correct way to turn easier and more efficiently. Control on Blues provides instruction to skiers and snowboarders of intermediate skill level on how to control speed on more difficult terrain. Short Radius Turns in the Fall Line offers participants with advanced skills tips on making short radius turns with rhythm, which are especially useful on steeper terrain and in crowded areas.

Subaru is also bringing an outdoor tent to the Master the Mountain weekends to do showings of Matchstick Productions new movie The Way I see It.

There will also be giveaways, free hot chocolate, music provided by DJ Donn and the chance to win Swix ski poles and POC goggles!

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Whats NEW at Hidden Valley for 2011

Here is a quick recap of what the Valley has new for the 2011 Ski Season.

Go to THEIR SITE for more

Learn to Ski Area. A graded 8% area with a conveyer belt is now at the base of the slopes and adjacent to the ski lodge.

Learn to Ski Program

Additional Snow Tubing Chutes and expanded parking

Falling Leaf Restaurant on Route 31 at the tubing park

Glacier Pub in what was the former Cafe at the plaza level of the lodge.

On line reservation and free wireless in the Four Seasons Lodge Rooms

There is more but this will give you a quick recap. Cold tempatures and the updated snowmaking system has the slopes in great condition. SKI YAA.

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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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Laurel Highlands Ski Report 12/24

Laurel Highlands PA Ski Report December 24

Wags ski photo When the weather forecast said sunny and 18 degrees, I knew that it would be a perfect ski day anywhere in the Laurel Highlands. With temperatures under 32 degrees day and night for the last week all the resorts have been making snow 24/7. When you have cold temperatures and low humidity the quality of the snowmaking rivals natural hard pack. This gives the snow rider a consistent surface and snow that makes even a beginner look great. 

Getting up to 7 Springs at the start of the day is important, it gets you into the lower parking lot and you get out on the hill before the crowds. Having a locker in the ski lodge makes it easy for me to get into gear in about 10 minutes and be out on the slopes in less than 20 minutes from parking the car.Lower Giant Boulder

Conditions did not disappoint me, as every slope except Alpine was open and near perfectly groomed. The photo is looking at the North Face Lift from the lower third of Giant Boulder Trail. The entire back was open to include all of North Face, Giant Steps, and Gunnar. When I got back into the lodge I headed for some hot coffee with the cashiers for the coffee shop. They shared that they had been busy but not jammed.
A swing through the Hidden Valley parking lot last weekend would indicate they too are enjoying solid early season skiers.  Ski Ya!

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