Area resorts set to give skiers a seasonal lift Downhill all the way

November 13, 1994|By JoAnne C. Broadwater | JoAnne C. Broadwater,Special to The Sun

As jubilant Maryland skiers listen to predictions of another snowy winter, local ski resorts are putting the finishing touches on new terrain and services they hope will keep cold-weather enthusiasts skiing close to home this season.

Anxious to welcome newcomers to the sport, a number of resorts near the Baltimore area have built new slopes, lifts and learn-to-ski areas and developed lesson programs and ski packages to meet the needs of growing numbers of beginners and to ensure that their first ski experiences are hassle-free.

Whitetail, Ski Liberty, Ski Roundtop and Wisp are extending the same welcome to snowboarders, whose avocation is the fastest-growing portion of the ski industry. Snowboarders, also called "riders" or "shredders," are invited to check out any slope, trail or bowl-shaped half-pipe or try their wildest moves at one of the new snowboard parks.

And in case reports of woolly-bear caterpillars foretelling heavy snowfall are mistaken, all the areas have upgraded their snowmaking capabilities to offset Mother's Nature's shortcomings. Depending on the whims of the weather, skiing could start as early as this month, with full operations expected by the Christmas holidays.

Ski Roundtop, Ski Liberty

For the past 30 years, Ski Roundtop has been teaching Baltimore area residents how to ski, helping them test their equipment and getting them in shape for bigger challenges at distant mountain resorts.

It's a tradition Irvin Naylor, chairman of the board at Ski Roundtop, says he hopes to continue in Lewisberry, Pa., for 30 more years.

"Three generations of my family have learned to ski there," says Mr. Naylor. "I taught my son, Scott, to ski there. Now he and I are teaching his son, Chet, and daughter, Leah. I know of many other families who are in the same third generation of skiing at Roundtop. It's really gratifying because I've always considered it a family ski area."

Ski Roundtop has renewed its commitment to teaching by enlarging its beginner area and adding a new quad (four-person) chairlift that is slow-moving and low to the ground, so first-time skiers can learn how to load and unload more easily.

The same commitment to beginners is evident at Ski Liberty, another area owned by Mr. Naylor's Snow Time Inc. The Carroll Valley, Pa., resort will be introducing a 15-acre area for first-time skiers that features a wide, lighted trail and a quad chairlift.

Michael Cobb, marketing director for the two resorts, says Roundtop and Liberty last year introduced nearly 25,000 people to skiing through packages that include a lesson, equipment rental and limited access to lifts.

Both areas will begin a First Class Skier program to identify first-timers with a pin so staff members can offer them extra assistance with equipment rental, at the lifts and on the slopes. And both areas offer a money-back guarantee if a skier does not successfully master basic skills after a beginner lesson.

The two areas also have snowboard parks set to open this winter, where riders will have specially designed terrain.

Filled with chair rails, telephone poles and picnic tables to jump and slide on, boxes, barrels and graded areas to skip and bounce off, the "snowboarders only" parks will be "a place for them to do all of their wild things," Mr. Cobb says.

To reach Ski Liberty, take Interstate 695 to Interstate 795, continuing on Route 140, then north on Route 16 and east on Route 116 to the entrance. To reach Ski Roundtop, travel north on Interstate 83 to Exit 13, and follow signs to the entrance.

Whitetail

The Whitetail Ski Resort is getting ready for its fourth season with more terrain for beginners, an enlarged snowboard park and a new retail shop for snowboard riders.

There will be a new Northern Lights beginners' trail at the Mercersburg, Pa., ski area, as well as a larger teaching area and an additional quad chairlift for novices.

"We introduce a lot of people to skiing," says Lisa Wolfe, communications manager for the resort. "There's also a growing interest in snowboarding. Some of the first-timers have already tried skiing and others are making what they see as a logical transition from skateboarding or surfing to snowboarding."

The resort will offer a six-session program for snowboarders with lift tickets, lessons and equipment rentals.

But before hitting the slopes, they may want to stop by the "The Underground," a shop just for riders filled with specialty clothing, hats, boots and boards.

Whitetail's recreational racing area has been enlarged and lengthened. Lighting has been upgraded for better night skiing, and child care is available for $5 with the purchase of a night pass.

Children ages 6 to 12 may sign up for six Saturdays of supervised skiing in the Whitetrailers program. For adults, there's the Whitetail Academy.

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