Posts Tagged ‘skiing’

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Whiteface Opens for 53rd Season Friday

Whiteface is ready to open for its 53rd ski and ride season on Friday, Nov. 26, at 8:30 a.m. Snow guns have been making snow since Thursday, Nov. 18, in preparation for opening day.

The Cloudsplitter Gondola will carry intermediate and above level skiers and riders to the summit of Little Whiteface to access Excelsior, Upper Valley, and the Summit Express. Skiers and riders will then load the Little Whiteface chair to return to the summit of Little Whiteface. At the conclusion of their day, they will then download on the Cloudsplitter Gondola.

The Lower Valley, Fox and Mixing Bowl trails are expected to open for the season Saturday for top to bottom skiing and riding.

Whiteface boast the East’s greatest vertical drop and was recently chosen by readers of SKI Magazine as the #1 ski resort in the Eastern United States and #1 for 18 years straight for Off-Hill Activities. Readers of SnowEast Magazine also tabbed the Olympic mountain the East’s favorite resort.

Opening day lift tickets are $47 for adults (20-64 years old), $37 for teens (13-19) and seniors (65-69), and $24 for juniors (7-12) and Seniors (70 and older). Children six and under ski and ride for free any day of the season. These prices will be in effect through Friday, Dec. 3. Early season prices begin on Saturday, Dec. 4, $57 for adults (20-64 years old), $47 for teens (13-19) and seniors (65-69), $34 for juniors (7-12) and $38 for skiers and riders 70 and older.

“We have great coverage on Excelsior and Upper Valley, and with a few more cold nights we should cover the Lower Valley, Fox and Mixing Bowl for Saturday,” said mountain manager Bruce McCulley. “This will give us 2.5 miles of skiing for Thanksgiving weekend, which is a great start to the season.”

Opening day will also feature the final installation of the 80-foot long mural in the lower tunnel of the Main Base Lodge, created by local area youth entitled “Seasons.” The mural features over 300 individually painted leaves and snowflakes and skiers are riders are encouraged to attend the 10 a.m. ceremony.

Throughout the 2010-11 season, skiers and riders can enjoy super savings on lift tickets with programs including Super Sundays presented by Bud Light, Coca-Cola “Why Not Wednesdays” and the Vertical Club.

The five Super Sundays are scheduled for Dec. 12; Jan. 2; Feb. 6; March 13 and April 3. During those five selected Sundays, tickets prices to ski and ride Whiteface’s 3,430 feet of vertical will be $35 for adults 20 years and older, $30 for teens and just $25 for juniors. The themes include Stylin’ Sunday (Dec. 12), Island Madness (Jan. 2), Super Football Sunday (Feb. 6), Shamrock Sunday (March 13) and Retro Sunday (April 3).

Every non-holiday Wednesday is a Coca-Cola “Why Not Wednesday” at the Olympic mountain. A one-day lift ticket is just $38 when a skier or rider brings a Coca-Cola product.

The Vertical Club allows skiers and riders the opportunity to save every time they visit Whiteface or Gore. As a Vertical Club member your first visit is free and it’s $15 off future visits to Whiteface to Gore. Use the card five times and your sixth visit is also free, plus Vertical Club members can cash in on extra savings days announced throughout the season at both Whiteface and Gore. The card must be purchased three days in advance and is available on-line at http://www.whiteface.com/summer/tickets/wf_special.php.

Photo: Making snow on Whiteface on Sunday, November 21st.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Whiteface Begins Snowmaking

You don’t need to be a meteorologist to know that it’s been cold the last several days and nights, ideal for dusting off the hoses and guns and making snow at Whiteface. “We saw an opportunity to take advantage of some good temperatures,” said Whiteface general manager Bruce McCulley. “We’ll keep watching the weather and the temperatures over the next several days and make snow when it makes sense so that we have a good product for opening day.”

This season’s snowmaking is far ahead of last year’s, when the mountain didn’t make its first snow until Nov. 16, pushing back opening day until Dec. 5. Starting at about 6 p.m. last night, 35 guns began blowing snow from the mid-station down, laying the based for the Friday, Nov. 26, opening, weather permitting.

The early snowmaking also should serve as a reminder to skiers and riders that Thursday, Nov. 18, is the deadline to purchase discounted 2010-11 season passes for Whiteface and Gore.

Whiteface boasts the greatest vertical east of the Rockies, 283 skiable acres and 86 trails and was recently named the number-one ski resort in the eastern United States by readers of SKI Magazine. The mountain also received high marks for its Après-Ski (#2), Dining (#2), Family Programs (#2), Scenery (#2), Terrain/Challenge (#2), Lodging (#4) and Overall Satisfaction (#5). And for the 18th consecutive year, Whiteface/Lake Placid was chosen number-one for its Off-Hill Activities, thanks to its array of Olympic-style sports including bobsledding, ice skating, cross country skiing, ski jumping, as well as events such as World Cup racing, shows and concerts.

Whiteface was also chosen by SnowEast Magazine readers as the East’s favorite resort. Whiteface topped such resorts as Sugarloaf and Sunday River, both in Maine, and even Killington, in Vermont. More than 3,500 readers took part in the poll and they also tabbed Whiteface as the most scenic resort and their favorite destination village.

Photo: Snowmaking at Whiteface, from Mid-station down. Photos courtesy of Whiteface/ORDA.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

McCauley Mountain Consignment Sale Saturday

McCauley Mountain and the Polar Bear Ski Club will hold their annual Season Ski Pass Sale and Consignment Sale this Saturday, November 6, 2010 from 9 am until Noon at McCauley Mountain Ski Area in Old Forge. From 10 am until Noon the Ski Patrol will be demonstrating chair lift evacuation. Spectators are welcome.

There will be new equipment vendors on site for the event, as well as used equipment by consignment. Items for the consignment sale should be at the McCauley Mountain Chalet between 8 am and 9 am on Saturday morning.

Season Passes purchased on the day of the sale include a free lunch. Season Ski Passes will be processed and issued immediately. Season Pass sale prices are $239 for an adult, $179 for juniors ages 18 and under, $99 for seniors ages 60-69. There is a special maximum family price of $836. There is also a Five-Day Pass good for any five days for $119 each.

November 6th is also a volunteer workday to help prepare the slopes for the upcoming winter ski season. Participation of area youth is requested, and all volunteers are welcome. For additional information, call McCauley Mountain at 315-369-3225.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Adirondack Ski, Snowboard & Snowmobile Spectacular

The Adirondack Ski, Snowboard & Snowmobile Spectacular, a three-day event dedicated exclusively to winter sports, will be held at the Adirondack Sport Complex (The Dome) in Queensbury, NY (at Northway, Exit 18) this weekend, October 29, 30 & 31.

The Spectacular was established to provide information, education and entertainment, according to event organizer Jeff Fraser. The event features a combination of exhibits, hands on demos, feature areas and thousands of products and services for skiers, snowboarders & snowmobilers including Fashion Snow Shows, Tubby Tube Rides, A BMX Park, Rockwall and The Sky Riders Aerial Show. The highlight of the weekend for many is the 12,000 square foot Giant Ski, Snowboard & Snowmobile Swap, an opportunity to turn your old equipment into cash, or find great deals on “previously enjoyed” snowmobiles, skis, boots, poles, boards, clothing or accessories.

If you have equipment to sell, it can be dropped off at The Adirondack Sports Complex (The Dome) today until 8 pm or tomorrow, Friday October 29th between 8 am and 2 pm. Your equipment will be catalogued, tagged, and you’ll receive a receipt.

Sellers will need to return to The Dome on Sunday October 31st between 3 pm and 6 pm to see if your gear has sold. Unclaimed or abandoned items will be donated to a local charity.

Admission: A one day General Admission is $7.50; Children under 10 admitted free with paid adult admission; A three day admission is $9.00. All carded High School race team members get in “free” Friday, October 29th 4 pm – 9 pm with one paid adult admission.

For additional information, contact 518-743-1086 or 518-371-6363 or visit their website at www.adirondackskisnowboard.com.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Let it Snow: A Look At The Local Downhill Scene

Not long ago, as much as a foot of snow fell in the mountains of the Adirondacks and other high places in the Northeast. It was a rare early notice that winter is just around the corner.

For those of us who enjoy playing in it, that means it’s time to sharpen and wax our skis or boards and get ready to begin the season.

And that, too, is just around the corner. Whiteface plans to opens about a month from now, on Nov. 26, with Gore expecting to start around that time as well.

That means it’s also time to start thinking about how to save on those expensive ski passes. Fortunately, there are a number of options. For frequent skiers, Gore and Whiteface are selling their season passes (good for both resorts) at $825 before Nov. 19, $175 cheaper than normal.

For day-visits, Whiteface only will continue their discounted Sundays program, offering $35 adult tickets on Dec. 12, Jan. 2, Feb. 6, March 13 and April 3. In addition, every Wednesday at both mountains, adults can buy a ticket for $38 after presenting a Coca-Cola product at the ticket window (yes, you can drink it first).

Meanwhile, the smaller resorts in the Adirondacks continue to work on volunteer power. Both Oak Mountain in Speculator and Big Tupper in Tupper Lake will be operated mostly by volunteers. Outside Warrensburg, Hickory Ski Center — which reopened last year after a long hiatus — has already been organizing volunteer work crews to prepare the slopes. Expect all these hidden gems to begin operation around Christmastime, or perhaps a bit earlier if the snow cooperates.

And let’s not forget the tiny Mt. Pisgah in Saranac Lake, where many locals learn to make turns for the first time.

In Old Forge, McCauley Mountain will continue to be operated by the Town of Webb. They’re planning to open on Dec. 11.

Need some gear? Check out the annual Ski and Snowboard Expo at Albany’s Times Union Center on Nov. 5 to 7. It’s a great place to pick up terrific deals on ski equipment and clothing. And the first 400 people on line Saturday and Sunday get a free ticket to Gore, West or Whiteface (with, admittedly, pretty stiff blackout dates from late December to early March). For more info, click here.

I’d suggest you get there an hour ahead of the 10 a.m. opening time if you want a close-enough place in line!

The Adirondack Sport and Fitness Magazine is planning its own Winter Expo at the Saratoga Springs City Center on Nov. 20 and 21. Admission is free, and a hundred exhibitors will be there representing all facets of winter sports and travel.

This year, visitors can try an indoor luge set up by USA Luge, which will offer free, wheeled rides on a tiny track. Got dreams of Olympic glory? The team will be looking for luge talent in kids as they try their luck down the “slope.” For more info, click here.

 


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Back At The Almanack:Winter Sports Writer Christie Sousa

It’s that time of year – time to welcome back Almanack winter sports contributor Christie Sausa of Lake Placid. Christie is a member of the historic figure and speed skating culture in the Olympic Village, and writes about those sports for the Lake Placid News and on her own blog, the popular Lake Placid Skater, which she founded in 2007.

As the winter sports season gets rolling Sausa, who attends North Country Community College, will begin covering local competitions and local athletes and the broader winter sports experience from popular sports like ski-jumping, downhill, snowboarding, and cross country, to the sliding sports (luge, skeleton, and bobsledding), as well as the more obscure winter pastimes of biathlon, skijoring, and dogsledding.

Sausa is a member of the Kiwanis Club of Lake Placid, the Connecting Youth and Communities Coalition, the Skating Club of Lake Placid, and the Lake Placid Speed Skating Club. When she is not on the ice herself, or writing about what happens there, Sausa and her mom run the Lake Placid Skate Shop.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Whiteface Ranked #1 in East by SKI Magazine

The votes are in, they’ve all been counted and SKI Magazine readers named Whiteface, as the number-one ski resort in the eastern United States, second overall in eastern North America. The independent survey of 7,000 readers put the Olympic mountain back on top for the first time since 2003. In 2009-10, the mountain was ranked fifth. Only Mont Tremblant, Quebec stood atop Whiteface in the SKI survey.

Whiteface, which boasts the greatest vertical drop east of the Rockies, 283 skiable acres and 86 trails, received high marks for its Après-Ski (#2), Dining (#2), Family Programs (#2), Scenery (#2), Terrain/Challenge (#2), Lodging (#4) and Overall Satisfaction (#5). And for the 18th consecutive year, Whiteface/Lake Placid was chosen number-one for its Off-Hill activities, thanks to its array of Olympic-style sports including bobsledding, ice skating, cross country skiing, ski jumping, as well events such as World Cup racing, shows and concerts.

Over the past 10 years, Whiteface has invested in a gondola, chairlifts, parking, improved and increased snowmaking and grooming, terrain parks, upgrades to the base lodge and dining areas and expansion of the Kids Kampus, to name a few. Most recently, Whiteface opened Lookout Mountain in January 2009 and last season added 25 additional acres of glade skiing with the opening of the Sugar Glades.

For a complete look at the “Top 50 Resort Guide,” visit www.skinet.com.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Olympic Medalist Billy Demong Returns to Dewey Mtn

2010 Olympic gold and silver medalist Billy Demong will speak at the Town of Harrietstown’s Dewey Mountain Recreation Center at 4 p.m. Monday, October 4. The Vermontville native, who cross-country-ski raced at Dewey as a kid, returns to his home mountain to kick off a fundraising campaign to replace its base lodge. All are welcome.

Demong will be available to meet well-wishers and sign Dewey stickers after remarks, which will also feature Saranac Lake skiers and coaches Natalie Leduc and Kris Cheney Seymour. The public is invited to stay for coffee and cookies, and to walk or mountain bike on Dewey’s trails.

Dan and Debbie Stoorza of the Bean-To will introduce “Hammer Down,” a limited edition of its popular Hammer roast coffee. Demong and the Stoorzas came up with the idea for Hammer Down last winter, inspired by the four-bean blend and the phrase Demong uses to psyche himself up at the start of a race. The proceeds from each bag of Hammer Down beans sold this ski season will go toward Dewey’s lodge-replacement project.

From 4:30 to 5:30 the Dewey Mountain Youth Ski League will register kids ages 5 to 13 for this winter’s program. Parents must accompany children who want to sign up.

Adirondack Lakes & Trails Outfitters, operators of Dewey Mountain under a contract with the Town of Harrietstown, will sell season passes for skiing and snowshoeing.

Demong, a four-time Olympian in Nordic Combined, and Tim Burke of Paul Smiths, a two-time Olympian and 2009 World Cup leader in Biathlon, are dedicated alumni of Dewey Mountain. They are also honorary trustees of Dewey Mountain Friends, which is fundraising to improve Dewey’s facilities in partnership with the Town of Harrietstown and the Saranac Lake Rotary Foundation.

Dewey Mountain Recreation Center is on State Route 3 west of Saranac Lake, between Algonquin Apartments and the National Guard Armory. For more information call 891-7450.

Photo: Billy Demong with Dewey Mountain Youth Ski League members Adrian Hayden, left, and Ruben Bernstein, right, in March. Photograph courtesy of Chrissy Hayden.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

World Cup Sliding and Skiing to Return to Placid

Many of the world’s best winter athletes will be back in Lake Placid when World Cup action returns this winter. Several of the same athletes who competed in last February’s winter games in Vancouver will also be competing in the World Cup bobsled and skeleton racing, Dec. 13-19, and World Cup freestyle skiing, Jan. 17-23.

American Steve Holcomb is expected to headline the World Cup bobsled field when the world’s top drivers, sliders and teams return to the one-mile long Mt. Van Hoevenberg Sports Complex track. Last February, Holcomb broke a 62-year U.S. gold medal drought when he raced to glory in the Olympic four-man bobsled competition. Holcomb’s teammates, Erin Pac and Elana Meyers, are also expected to race in Lake Placid. The two women enter the 2010-2011 World Cup season as Olympic bronze medalists.

Other sliders in the field could include men’s skeleton Olympic champion Jon Montgomery, of Canada, and American John Napier, who won his first-career World Cup race last season on the 1,455-meter long course. Napier is now serving in Afghanistan as a member of the Vermont National Guard’s 86th Infantry Mountain Combat Brigade.

The World Cup aerial and mogul field promises to be just as deep. Hannah Kearney and Patrick Deneen will headline the U.S. mogul team lineup, while Ryan St. Onge will lead the U.S. aerial squad. Kearney is the reigning Olympic women’s moguls gold medalist, while Deneen carries the title of 2009 world champion into the event. St. Onge has won five-career World Cup aerial events and is also the 2009 world champion.

The Lake Placid event is the only World Cup in the United States and will also serve as a qualifier for the U.S. ski team’s world championship squad. The 2011 FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships are slated for Feb. 2-5 at Deer Valley Resort, in Park City, Utah.

Also on tap this winter, America’s Cup bobsled and skeleton racing, Jan. 9-16 and March 27-April 2. InterContinental Cup Skeleton racing also returns, Jan. 24-29, and the FIBT bobsled drivers’ school is slated for March 21-25. ORDA’s events calendar also features the Eastern Synchronized Skating competition, Feb. 3-6, the Lake Placid Loppet, Feb. 5, and the annual Empire State Games, Feb. 18-20.

For a complete schedule of all of the activities and events taking place on ORDA’s Olympic venues visit the ORDA website.

Photo: Concentration sets in as a Women’s bobsled team gets ready to slide the track at the Olympic Sports Complex at Mt. Van Hoevenberg during the 2005 Bobsled and Skeleton World Cup. Photo Courtesy ORDA.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Want A Free Ski Pass? Dress The Part

Here’s a question: how dedicated of a skier are you?

Dedicated enough, perhaps, to wear ski gear in the middle of summer?

That’s what Whiteface workers are looking for. This Saturday, the “Whiteface Road Warriors” will be hanging around Lake George looking to give away winter 2010/11 day passes. Here’s the catch: to qualify, you’ll have to risk heatstroke, strange stares and perhaps forced psychiatric care by dressing for snow skiing in August.

Don’t worry — you don’t have to wear your insulated one-piece jumpsuit. A ski helmet, goggles, boots or other equipment will be enough, according to an announcement from Whiteface this week.

“If you’re spotted dressed for winter, you’ll automatically win a ticket,” Whiteface officials said.

This Saturday the crew will be lurking around Lake George’s Million Dollar Beach, Main Street and the various campgrounds. Next weekend the crew promises to be at Albany’s Farmer’s Market at Empire State Plaza, Washington Park and the bar Red Square, which is hosting an event called the Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad (don’t ask, but it sounds like the kind of crowd where a guy in ski goggles and boots won’t get looked at twice).

The crew will also be in Saratoga Springs on the weekend of Aug. 20 to 22. Visits are also being planned for New York City and Canada in the fall.

Sounds like a clever promotion for Whiteface and good way for those skiers who don’t embarrass easily to win a free pass. If you want to follow the exploits of the Whiteface Road Warriors, click here.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer Ski Jumping Season Begins in Lake PLacid

A tradition that dates back to the beginning of the 20th century will continue Saturday, July 3, when ski jumpers take to the Olympic Jumping Complex for the beginning of the summer ski jumping season.

Summer ski jumping actually began on snow when blocks of ice were removed from area lakes and stored until needed for the competitions. This ice was brought to the jumps and crushed into the hill. Crews laboriously spread this “snow” along the length of the site to allow the event to occur.

In the late-1980s artificial surfaces, introduced in Europe for summer training, made their way to Lake Placid. Now the in-run, where the jumpers gain speed, is made of porcelain tile troughs, while the landing hill is a synthetic surface layered like a thatched roof. When the in-run and the landing hill are watered, the result is a winter replica of speeds and jumping distance.

The July 3 winner will have a leg up on the 2010 Art Devlin Cup chase. This is a season-long series that includes the July 3 event, the Flaming Leaves meet in October and the Masters Ski Jump in December. The day begins at 1 p.m. with the first of two official rounds.

Admission is $15 for adults, $9 for juniors and seniors and includes a chairlift ride and an elevator ride to the top of the 120-meter ski jump. Food and drinks are offered by ORDA’s concessionaire.

Admission into this event is included when purchasing an Olympic Sites Passportwhich provides purchasers access to each of ORDA’s Olympic venues for $29. They are sold at the ORDA Store on Main Street in Lake Placid and all ticket offices. For more information about the Olympic Sites Passport can be found online.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Golf Tournament to Benefit NY Snow Sports Athletes

Supporters of the New York Ski Educational Foundation (NYSEF) efforts on behalf of New York snow sport athletes will be hitting the Mountain Course at the Lake Placid Club for the 12th Annual NYSEF Open golf tournament on Sunday, June 6, 2010. With the event less than a month away 24 teams and 26 sponsors have already registered, with an expected 35+ teams to compete.

Last year’s event raised over $10,000 for area athletes competing in snow sports – alpine skiing, freestyle skiing, snowboarding, ski jumping, cross country skiing, nordic combined and biathlon. This year’s 2010 Olympics boasted 7 former and current NYSEF athletes representing the United States, including: Nick Alexander (Ski Jumping), Lowell Bailey (Biathlon), Tim Burke (Biathlon), Bill Demong (Nordic Combined), Peter Frenette (Ski Jumping), Haley Johnson (Biathlon), and Andrew Weibrecht (Alpine Skiing). » Continue Reading.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Whiteface Season Pass Deadline Extended

So you haven’t purchased your 2010-2011 adult (ages 23-64), non-holiday Whiteface season pass yet, well you still have time. The deadline to ski and ride the Olympic mountain all season long, excluding holidays, for just $409 has been extended until May 20. This super savings will not be available after this date.

The adult (ages 23-64) Whiteface/Gore non-holiday pass is $549 when purchased by June 17 and increases to $659 before Nov. 18. The blackout dates for both non-holiday passes are Christmas week, Dec. 26-Jan. 2; Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, Jan. 15-17; and President’s Week, Feb. 19-26.

The full season pass for Whiteface and Gore is just $699 and increases to $825 June 18 through November 18. These passes are interchangeable at both mountains and are good for every day of the ski season.

Junior (ages 7-12) full season passes are available for $299 when purchased by Nov. 18. The price increases to $399 after that date. The young adult (ages 13-22) and college full season Whiteface/Gore passes are only $375 when purchased by Nov. 18 and increase to $475 thereafter. Proof of ages or college credits are required to purchase this pass.

The Whiteface senior (ages 65-69) non-holiday pass is also just $409 and there are no deadlines for purchase, while the senior Whiteface/Gore non-holiday pass is only $549 and the senior full season pass is just $699. There are also no deadlines to purchase either pass. Skiers ages 70 and older can ski or ride Whiteface and Gore all season long for only $210.

To purchase your season pass today, log on to www.WhitefaceLakePlacid.Com, or call 518.946.2223. Financing is available for adult full season passes when purchased on or before June 17.

Whiteface was also chosen by SnowEast Magazine readers as the East’s favorite resort. Whiteface topped such resorts as Sugarloaf and Sunday River, both in Maine, and even Killington, in Vermont. More than 3,500 readers took part in the poll and they also tabbed Whiteface as the most scenic resort and their favorite destination village.

Whiteface boasts the East’s greatest vertical drop, and was recently named to the Top Five Resorts in the East in SKI Magazine’s Reader Resort Survey 2010. The mountain also received kudos for Après Ski Activities (No. 4), Scenery (No. 5), Challenge and Family Programs (No. 6), Lodging (No. 6), Overall Value (No.7), and Terrain/Variety (No. 8). Whiteface/Lake Placid also earned the distinction of being #1 in the nation for Off-Hill Activities for the 17th straight year.


Monday, March 22, 2010

US Alpine Skiing Championships at Whiteface

US Olympians and novice skiers alike raced in this weekend’s 2010 US Alpine Skiing Championships, held at Whiteface Mountain March 20th-23rd.

In the women’s Super G event, Keely Kelleher had the fastest time and skiing bib one. The men’s Super G winner was Travis Ganong, leading the group from the beginning and winning his second US Championship in 2010.

The winner in the women’s slalom championship today was Sarah Schleper, proving that she is still one of the US’s top alpine ski racers. Her two-run time was 2 minutes 03.67 seconds. Schleper was happy with the experience: “I’m here to hang out with my younger teammates and maybe win a title, so this title is really icing on a hard two years, but a lot of fun.” Schleper is a four time Olympian.

Tommy Ford was the men’s slalom champion, finishing with a two-run time of 2:02.17. After celebrating his 21st birthday yesterday, the victory was icing on the cake for the young racer: “I just turned it on the second run, I’ve turned it on at the end of the year, that’s what I’ve been doing the last few years….even in sixth place I didn’t let up, I knew that not everyone can ski this stuff, I had hope at the top because I had the experience and others haven’t skied it as much.” A Dartmouth college freshman, Ford is a 2010 Olympian in Giant Slalom. He was also the overall winner in the combined event, which combines yesterday’s Super G event and today’s slalom event.

Racing will continue on Monday 3/22 with the men’s Giant Slalom, and on Tuesday 3/23 with the women’s Giant Slalom.

For complete event results, visit http://www.whiteface.com/events/alpine/schedule.php

Photo: Women’s slalom podium (l-r) Erin Mielzynski, Sarah Schleper and Hailey Duke at the 2010 Visa U.S. Alpine Championships at Whiteface Mountain outside of Lake Placid, NY (Doug Haney/U.S. Ski Team)


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Skiing the Top of New York — Badly

Mount Marcy, you are a fickle temptress.

Every year I skin up and ski down this mountain, at 5,344 feet the highest in the state. Sometimes twice. The 14-mile route is considered by many to be one of the finest backcountry tours on the East Coast.

All these trips, and I still can’t help feeling on the way down that I’m about to die.

Mind you, my ski gear has improved significantly from the first time nearly 20 years ago, when I used cross-country skis and boots so floppy that when I sat down and held my legs out in front of me the skis ticked back and forth like a metronome.

Today, I use telemark skis and plastic boots. I wear safety goggles. But I still can’t shake the feeling that around every curve is sure to be a fatal collision with a blue spruce tree or an overweight snowshoer.

Fear is my undoing, because it’s not my terrible skiing that turns a ski down Mt. Marcy to a fall down Mt. Marcy. It’s the speed, which makes me want to stop, which then causes me to fall. The only good side of this is that there’s not a chairlift in sight, so at least no one’s watching.

Marcy, being New York’s highest mountain, has always attracted visitors. And the extra bonus is that the trail was made for skiing. Unfortunately, it was made for skiers who clearly don’t mind shooting pell-mell down a tobaggan-run of a trail so curvy you never know what’s 20 feet ahead until you’ve risked becoming intimately acquainted with it.

I’ve always been envious of those who can ski down this trail with grace and poise. A few years ago, I was doing my usual ass-over-teakettle descent when I passed Tony Goodwin, the local trail guru. He was calmly and methodically descending the mountain on his old leather boots and cross-country skis, carving out a perfect snowplow in the spring powder as I blundered by. How did he do it?

I’ve had some good descents, generally dependent on snow conditions. Powder slows you down a lot, and makes turning easier, as does wet spring snow. During my most recent descent, with Adirondack Explorer Editor Phil Brown, the snow was powdery but also quite fast. Phil fell once. I lost track of the times that I threw my hurling body to the ground. But I made it down unpunctured by errant tree branch and uncontusioned by face plants.

The record for descent from peak to trailhead, as I understand it, is about 43 minutes. That’s by local skimeister Pat Munn of the famed Ski to Die Club, who was accompanied by his dog Otis. The time includes the few minutes he used to chat with friends at Marcy Dam. Doubtless he stayed upright the entire time. My descent time was more like two hours, though Phil and I did stop to take pictures (and a video, which you can see here).

Why do I keep coming back? Mt. Marcy is the consummate backcountry ski experience: a long skin up, a treeless summit (sometimes with a bowl filled with powder just below the top) and 3,000 feet of vertical drop that is — well, no matter what your skill level — never boring.

You push your way up, with each step the view growing more and more impressive. And then, on a perfect day, the top is bathed in sunshine; the summit cone standing out like a tower amid the stunted forest below treeline; the High Peak’s most rugged peaks are your closest neighbors.

At the top, you fuel up on food and water, rip off your skins and prepare for the long descent. In Phil’s case, he brought a ski helmet. I just wore my fear. And some safety glasses.

Still, for all my sloppy schussing, I’ll keep coming back. The effort, the view (or the white-out, as was the case this year), and that exhausted feeling of satisfaction at the end makes it all worth it.

And the knowledge that with every trip I’m learning. Some day, I know, I’ll ski it clean.

* * *
Interested in skiing Marcy? Park at Adirondack Loj near Lake Placid (fee), and plan for five to seven hours for the round-trip. Backcountry ski gear is available for rent at The Mountaineer in Keene Valley and EMS in Lake Placid. The Visitor’s Center at the Loj parking lot also rents ski gear, but most skiers may find the equipment more suited to lower-angle trails than the steep slopes on Marcy. Remember not to go too fast!