Although you wouldn't know it from the warmer-than-normal temperatures outside, this is the season for skiers and snowboarders to hit their favorite downhill destinations. But before you unknowingly sacrifice quality for familiarity, take some time to consider your options. Ski resorts all around Rochester are offering new or recently modified features catering to all interests and abilities, from sick terrain parks and half-pipes to intricately varied slopes and trails. With the number of ski resorts in proximity, weighing the options for a weekday or weekend excursion can be difficult. This guide will give you some specifics on the major slopes in a two-hour radius to help make that decision a little easier. But as previously mentioned, the so-far exceptionally warm weather has made the 2007 ski season a little unpredictable. Make sure to call ahead to check if all the features listed will be open for your trip.
Bristol Mountain Resort
5662 County Route 64, Canandaigua
Distance: Approximately one hour from downtown Rochester
Hours of operation: Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.
Tickets: $15-$50/one-day; $339-$499/season pass
Amenities: 33 slopes and trails, 2 half-pipes, 2 terrain parks, 6 lifts
The tallest ski resort in its region, BristolMountain is suitable for skiers and snowboarders of any skill level. With more than 30 slopes and trails, any rider can find a terrain suitable to his level of comfort. Launching Pad, a gentle and wide-open slope, is a good start for first-timers, while the left face of the mountain is designated for the more advanced --- or particularly courageous --- beginners.
Of course, speed junkies always search for the steepest slopes. Not a problem. BristolMountain's vertical, which is the highest of any ski resort between the Adirondacks and the Rockies, sits at a 2,200-foot summit elevation and has a 1,200-foot vertical rise. For self-proclaimed extremists, two half-pipes are available (one with 12-foot-high walls and a total length of 425 feet). Boxes, rails, spines, and step-downs, are just some of the additional features offered.
Several lodging options are available nearby, including The Inn on the Lake and The Lodge at BristolHarbour. Both have lake views and provide full-service accommodations, including cable, Internet, and fireplaces.
1/13-1/14: USSA Freestyle Event: Competitors ride through a specially designed freestyle course encompassing moguls and two strips of different jumps at varying heights.
1/20: Burton Demo Day: Experts from Burton show the latest equipment, and help you find the ski/board right for you.
1/28: Next Snow Search Finals: Sponsored by Sports Illustrated. The top 10 male and female competitors from each previous qualifying event will participate in the CarvingPark, Moguls, Half Pipe, and Slope style contests.
Swain Ski and Snowboard Resort
2275 Main Street, Swain
Distance: Approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes from downtown Rochester
Hours of Operation:Daily, 9 a.m.-10 p.m.
Tickets: $23-$42/one-day, $319-$499/season pass
Amenities: 21 trails, half-pipe, terrain park, tubing park, 4 lifts
Sitting at a base elevation of 1,320 feet, Swain offers a trail network that has areas suitable for all level skiers and snowboarders, with 67 percent dedicated to beginner and intermediate riders, including a 5,280-foot run. The resort also includes a half-pipe and often-altered terrain park, featuring tabletops, rails, and boxes. If alpine or snowboarding isn't enough to kick start those endorphins, try one of the other recreational activities like snowmobiling, ice-skating, or ice fishing.
For families, Gunny's GorgeTubingPark offers 750 feet of kid-friendly fun. Slide down one of six chutes and then get towed back to the top.
Swain offers its own lodging, with an indoor pool, hot tub, and other amenities. The Comfort Inn and Econo Lodge are also only about 20-30 minutes from the resort.
Every Saturday: Music on The Mountain Series: Live music from local musicians in the Shawmut Pub.
6677 Holiday Valley Road, Ellicottville
Distance: Approximately 2 hours from downtown Rochester
Hours of Operation: Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday 9 a.m.-10:30 p.m.; Saturday, 8:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m.; Sunday, 8:30-10 p.m.
Tickets: $32-$42/weekday one-day; $36-$85/weekend one-day; $635-$835/season pass
Amenities: 53 trails, half-pipe, 4 terrain parks, 12 lifts
From the increasingly difficult terrain of Moonshadow (home to slope style contests and the most advanced jumps and rails on the mountain) to the entry-level rail garden, HolidayValley's terrain offers a wide variety of skiing experiences. And of the 53 trails, 37 are also available for night skiing. For a more leisurely pastime, check out the cross-country skiing trails.
Riders who want to see how they "measure up" can take part in NASTAR racing, which leads ski and snowboard racers through a handicap system that enables them to compare themselves with one another and the national champion.
As for lodging, The Inn at HolidayValley is located at the base of the Sunrise lift for ski-in, ski-out convenience. If you'd rather enjoy the luxuries of a home, Holiday Valley Rental Management handles more than 240 private properties, including condominiums and townhouses located at the slopes and in the village of Ellicottville.
1/14: Racer X Series: Fun race at Cindy's Run for young skiers up to age 12.
1/20: USASA Boardercross: Competitors race down a course with jumps, S curves, rollers and berms.
1/21: USASA Slopestyle Event: Ski and snowboard competitors ride down the Moonshadow slope doing their best tricks over jumps and rails.
1/28: Next Snow Search: Kids' competition for skiers and riders from ages 9-12 in pipe, rails, racing and moguls. Winner competes in the nationally televised finals, with a chance to be named to the Next Snow Team.
Greek Peak Mountain Resort
2000 Route 392, Cortland
Distance: Approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes from downtown Rochester
Hours of operation:Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday, 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Saturday, 8:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Tickets:$15-$54/one-day; $249-$429/season pass
Amenities: 32 trails, half-pipe, 3 terrain parks, cross-country/Nordic center, tubing center, 8 lifts
With minimal crowds and beginners on weekends, GreekPeak appeals to the more advanced skiers/snowboarders. These riders have several hot spots to use, including a recently modified terrain park, which now features three new boxes and six rail jams. Beginners needn't worry; the progression terrain park was made to help build skills.
GreekPeak also offers an ice-skating rink and a cross-country/Nordic center, which features 22-25 kilometers of Nordic trails, adjacent to two state forests with approximately 30-plus kilometers of non-maintained trails. The Nordic Center also offers snowshoeing and gliding. Within walking distance of the resort is a tubing center, complete with six tube chutes.
GreekPeak offers several lodging options, including rustic cabins and fully furnished private residences that can be rented by the night. Nearby hotels include the Country Inn and Suites, Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn, and SUNY Cortland Alumni House. The HopeLake Lodge --- a hotel with indoor water park --- is scheduled to open in December 2007.
1/19: Rail Jam: Competition in freestyle maneuvers and riding rails.
1/28-2/1: Winter Challenge Week:Instruction geared toward adaptive skiing and snowboarding for the disabled.
2/4: Masters Race USSA sanctioned event featuring downhill racing for riders over 18.
Route 91, Truxton
Distance: Approximately 2 hours from downtown Rochester
Hours of operation: Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Tickets:$20-$35/one-day; $185-$351/season pass
Amenities: 23 trails, half-pipe, terrain park, 6 lifts
Renowned for its challenging 3,000-foot snowboard park and awe-inspiring boarding competitions, LabradorMountain is home to numerous snowboard enthusiasts, who now have several improvements to enjoy. These include a widened top of the cutthroat race trail, a newly built 2,500-square-foot building for the race team, and more snowmaking guns to ensure high-quality terrain.
The mountain's terrain is somewhat intimidating, with several steep, narrow passes; however, there is still sufficient terrain for beginner's progression, including a NASTAR course. The three different peaks are home to an intricate network of trails that should suit all abilities.
A wide variety of lodging is available within minutes of the mountain in CortlandCounty, including historic inns, motels, town houses, and bed and breakfasts.
1/20: Lab Fest: Live DJ, kids activities, games, races, prizes.
1/27: Carnival Race: USSA members giant slalom race.
KissingBridge Ski and Snowboard Resort
Route 240, Glenwood
Distance: Approximately 1 hour, 45 minutes from downtown Rochester
Hours of operation: Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m.
Tickets: $14-$46/one-day; $125-$425/season pass
Amenities: 36 trails, terrain park, tubing park, 9 lifts
Kissing Bridge features 700 acres of terrain with 36 trails, including a 600-foot run. The resort makes up for a somewhat short vertical with an elaborate terrain park featuring a progressive flow of increasingly difficult features, including 25 rail features and an intimidating triple jump line. However, an emphasis on aiding with the transition from beginner to intermediate ability has made way for a new mini park to help new beginners work on their skills.
The Colden Tubing Co offers a 10-story ride from the summit to its base, and 14 to 16 chutes to slide down.
Lodging options include the Oasis Bed and Breakfast, about six miles south of KissingBridge. The 1890s Victorian farmhouse includes theme rooms, veranda, and two outdoor hot tubs. Several other bed and breakfasts are within 10 miles of KissingBridge, and chain hotels including the Holiday and Hampton inns are also within an hour of the resort.
1/18: 2 4 5 Snowboard Co. Rail Jam: Taking place at the TerrainPark.
1/27: Beach Party: Beach-themed party at the Lake Effect Saloon (beach attire suggested).
3/10: Spring Fling Deck Party: Outside event for KissingBridge patrons, including wine tasting, homemade beer, chili, free prizes, scavenger hunts and more.