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Ski season approaching fast

Area ski resorts are spruced up and ready for the cold

Area ski resorts are spruced up and ready for the cold

November 03, 2003|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

J. Gruber's Hagers-Town Town and Country Almanack predicts plenty of snow this winter - and that's good news for skiers, snowboarders and tubers. Slopes in and around the Tri-State area most likely will open for business in late November or early December, as soon as cold temperatures dig in to stay, say resort officials in Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Whitetail Mountain Resort in Mercersburg, Pa., will open for the 2003-04 ski season as soon as the mercury dips low enough to sustain snow - ideally during Thanksgiving weekend, but probably the first week of December, says Chris Black, marketing coordinator.

And it's going to be a great season for skiers, snowboarders and snow tubers at Whitetail, he says.

Recent resort improvements include the addition of airless fan gun technology to black diamond slope Exhibition, a huge snow tubing building expansion, renovations to the Kids Mountain Camp lobby area and a significant increase in water pumping capacity - which means maximum levels of man-made snow this winter.

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"We'll be able to put a lot of snow down in a very short period of time," Black says.

He describes the airless fan gun technology at Exhibition as an "air cannon" that will shoot snow onto the slopes for "very good skiing conditions." And tubers can try out more tubing lanes, and such lodge improvements as extra seating, a party room and an expanded food menu, Black says.

Beginning skiers and snowboarders might benefit from Whitetail's $19 Learn to Ski or Board Package. The offer - which includes a lift ticket for beginner terrain, a lesson and equipment rental for participants ages 8 and older - is valid from opening day through Dec. 23.

For repeat skiers, the resort's Advantage Card offers possibilities. It shaves 40 percent off the cost of lift tickets and class lessons at Whitetail, Liberty Mountain Resort in Carroll Valley, Pa., and Ski Roundtop in Lewisberry, Pa. And every sixth visit is free for Advantage Card holders. For costs and other information, call 1-717-328-9400 or go on the Web to www.skiwhitetail.com.

One of Whitetail's sister resorts, Liberty Mountain Resort - located about 35 minutes northeast of Hagerstown - has 19 trails with terrain for skiers and snowboarders of all ability levels. Another learn-to-ski area for children has been added for this season, as well as two "Magic Carpet" moving walkways for beginning child and adult skiers, says Anne Weimer, marketing coordinator. Liberty's snow tubing park has 10 lanes and three lifts. For more information, call 1-717-642-8282 or go to www.skiliberty.com on the Web.

Ski Roundtop - located about an hour northeast of Hagerstown - features a training center run by Olympic Gold Medalist Diane Roffe. Roundtop also offers 16 trails over a variety of terrain and snow tubing runs. A new Super Pipe with its own J-bar lift will open this season for intermediate and advanced snowboarders. The old half pipe will now be the beginner pipe. For more information, call 1-717-432-9631 or go to www.skiroundtop.com on the Web.

Other winter sports destinations within three hours of Hagerstown include:

  • About two hours west of Hagerstown in Garrett County, Md., Wisp ski resort sprawls across Marsh Mountain in the Allegheny Mountain Range near Deep Creek Mountain Resort. Wisp boasts 22 trails covering 100 acres of skiable and boardable terrain, a tubing park and recently expanded lodge. More than $5 million worth of recent improvements include the addition of 24 new snow-making machines, a "ski carpet" moving walkway for beginning skiers and snowboarders and two new triple chairs, says Wisp Marketing Coordinator Sarah Duck.

    The triple chairs will increase the capacity of lifts No. 2 and No. 3 by more than 50 percent, and it will give lift operators the ability to vary lift speed for easier loading and unloading, she says.

    At Wisp's Bear Claw Snow Tubing Park, tubers simply hitch a ride up the mountain on a tow rope before whizzing down one of nine, 750-foot-long lanes. Tubers must be at least 42 inches tall to participate, and advance reservations are recommended for the two-hour tubing sessions.

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