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Passing the winter time with a winter pastime: Ski in Western New York

A WINTER WONDERLAND — Western New York has several hills for skiing and snowboarding, with a variety of options and features. Pictured: riders and skiers hit the hills at Kissing Bridge Ski Resort in Glenwood. Photos by Lizz Schumer.

SPRINGVILLE — When looking out the window this time of year, many residents are tempted to curl up in bed and hibernate until spring. However, aside from shoveling and building snowmen, the Western New York area offers sources of winter activity, on several local slopes.

Kissing Bridge Ski Resort in Glenwood, Holiday Valley Resort in Ellicottville, and Buffalo Ski Club in Colden all offer skiing and snowboarding for as long as there is snow on the ground, and sometimes when it isn’t.

Jane Eshbaugh, director of marketing at Holiday Valley, said that, when all the natural snow was hitting the hills, skiers were coming out of the woodwork and business was good. She said it took a downturn, when the weather got wet. She expected that, with their new snow machines, they would be back in business by Christmas.

Kissing Bridge, which opened late last year, due to a warm, dry December, had good news, this season.

FUN WITH FRIENDS OR FAMILY — Local spokespeople noted that the winter sport can be a good activity for both residents and visitors, to pass the time in the colder months.

“The fact that we’ve opened so early this year is probably the best news we’ve had here at Kissing Bridge, for quite some time,” said Peter Calleri, director of marketing.

Calleri said that the Glenwood resort have been open since the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, which is the earliest that facility has opened in 13 years.

Calleri said that, after being quite populated when there was 5 feet of natural snow, the recent warm-up definitely hurt the slope count.

“We’re going to refortify, and try to get as many trails open as we possibly can,” Calleri said.

All three of these local ski facilities offer new machines that will help keep the slopes covered, all winter long.

Mark Page, general manager at the Buffalo Ski Club, said that the snow guns in use this year were brand new, last season.

STARTING OFF YOUNG — This little guy worked on his form, at Kissing Bridge.

“They’re easy to use [and required] less man power,” Page said. “They use less air, so we can run more of them at one time, and they make snow at a little bit warmer temperatures than the other gun [the club used to have].”

Eshbaugh said that Holiday Valley has been working for the past few years on improving their snow-making system. She said the new automated system allows them to make snow in a shorter period of time.

“All the guns are controlled by computers,” Eshbaugh said. “You can turn them all on or off, or adjust them to the temperature and the humidity, making a greater amount of snow more efficiently, using less energy.”

Those who are new to the sport are also invited to join in the winter fun, according to the ski slope spokespeople.

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Eshbaugh said that, at the top of every lift at Holiday Valley, there is an easier slope to go down. She said that all the slopes are labeled on the trail map, so that skiers and boarders can plan which hill they want, while at the bottom. Lessons for beginners are also available, at the base.

“If you’re brand new, take a lesson. Whether it’s a group lesson or a private lesson, just get the basics out, so you can start out on the right foot,” Page said. “So that [way], you’re not guessing all the time, and risking injury.”

Eshbaugh said that ski slopes have a national rating system that identifies the skill level needed to be successful.

“If you’re a first-time skier, obviously, definitely take some lessons first, and look for the slope marked with the green circle, and then you can work your way up, from there,” Eshbaugh said.

The next level of difficulty is the blue square marking. Expert-level skiers can look for trails marked by a black diamond.

Page said that, of the 43 slopes at Buffalo Ski Club, the best place to start is the Tamarack area. He said a lot of those trails are rated green circle, and it’s also the area where lessons are offered.

He added that, while group lessons are for members only, private lessons can be scheduled by anyone.

“Our membership, this year, is at the highest it’s ever been,” said Page, of how the club is doing, this year.

Calleri agreed that the best plan for beginners is to take a lesson. He noted that Kissing Bridge is currently offering special offers on lessons, through its social media platforms.

“If they’re new skiers, you definitely want them to stay on the beginner hill, for a period of time, until they can stop and turn, at will,” Calleri said.

He added that moderate to advanced skiers could probably ski on any hill they want, and for those interested in different features, Kissing Bridge offers three terrain parks.

“The terrain parks are specially equipped areas for kids to go in and perform tricks on certain features such as stairs, rails and jumps,” Calleri said

Local winter sport facilities can make for a quick and easy vacation spot for families, they added.

“Western New York is notorious for its wintery weather, so you might as well do something, where you look forward to winter,” Eshbaugh noted.

She said that, not only is skiing a great way to get outdoors and get some fresh air, it’s something people can enjoy, no matter what level they’re at. She added that skiing is a fun activity for all ages, the whole family or with friends.

“It makes the winter go by fast. It’s probably one of the last sports that an entire family can do together,” Page said.

With Western New York offering hills for all levels, ages and equipment, going skiing is an available alternative to hibernation.

“You can’t sit home, all winter long,” Calleri said. “Especially in Western New York, you’ll get cabin fever, about halfway through February.”

For more information or conditions or about visiting Kissing Bridge, go to www.kbski.com or call 592-4963.

To learn more about Holiday Valley, go to www.holidayvalley.com or call 699-2345.

For details on the Buffalo Ski Club, visit www.bscskiarea.com or call 941-5654.




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