New on the Slopes Think Snow: As winter approaches, area resorts are eager to attract a new generation of skiers

November 12, 1995|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,SUN STAFF

Every winter, as the slopes are being blanketed with man-made powder, we load the kids in the Caravan and venture across the Pennsylvania line for a peek at Ski Liberty.

The lights are on. The lifts are running. And a few die-hard skiers are maneuvering down the north face of the mountain. "See that?" I ask the kids. "Doesn't that look like fun? Don't you wanna try that?" Inevitably, their response is no. No. NO.

Surely, the 600-foot vertical drop is intimidating. We point out the gentle beginner slopes: Sneaky Pete. Nova. Don't Worry. Still, their answer is an emphatic NO. Perhaps something else is at work here. Perhaps dear old Dad just doesn't cut it as a ski instructor.

Dad has had the kids on skis before. Cross-country skis. And he didn't succeed in teaching them to slide and glide across flat terrain (OK, there were a few hills) in Western Maryland. Dad lacked patience. Dad wanted to glide. Never mind that kid lying with his face in a snowbank.

Well, this is another winter, and Dad's not giving up. He doesn't have to. Not with area ski resorts making it easy to bring kids to the slopes for some fun.

In fact, what's new at nearby ski resorts this year is expanded facilities for children and larger snowboarding areas for teen-agers (and youthful adults).

At ski areas nationwide, the emphasis is on improving the skiing experience for everyone, from first-timers to seasoned skiers. It's part of a trend to lure baby boomers and their offspring to the slopes.

"We know that our industry is a family recreational sport," says Stacy Gardner, a spokeswoman for the National Ski Areas Association, based in Lakewood, Colo. "Once children are exposed to sports such as skiing or snowboarding, it tends to be a lifelong sport. That's why kids are so important to our market. There's a concerted effort to make it more effortless for parents and their children."

Here's a rundown of what's new at the four resorts most familiar to Baltimore skiers.

Liberty, Roundtop

These popular Pennsylvania ski areas -- among the most accessible to the Baltimore area -- have expanded their Children's Learning Centers to provide child care and ski instruction for youngsters.

At Ski Liberty, across the Pennsylvania line in Carroll Valley, the Children's Learning Center has been enlarged and relocated next to the resort's parking lot, making it convenient for parents to take care of the youngsters first. Like the children's center at Ski Roundtop, the facility is spacious and comfortable, and features indoor and outdoor play areas and child-size breakfast bars.

"We've really made it more user-friendly," said Michael D. Cobb, marketing director for the resorts. "Parents have expectations on how they want their kids handled from the time they pull in. We've removed as many obstacles as possible when it comes to family skiing."

The children's centers also contain their own ski lifts. Advance reservations are recommended at both resorts.

Snowboarding areas have been expanded at both facilities, too, to meet growing demand and to provide snowboarders with varied terrain so they can perform plenty of tricks.

And if skiing or snowboarding doesn't catch your fancy, there's always snow tubing. Ski Roundtop boasts the area's only tubing run. You can rent a tube for $5 an hour or $1 a run. A lift returns you to the top of the hill for more sliding and gliding.

To reach Ski Liberty, take Interstate 695 to Interstate 795, continuing on Route 140 into Pennsylvania. Turn right on Route 116 and follow to the entrance of Ski Liberty.

To reach Ski Roundtop, go north on Interstate 83 to Exit 13 and follow signs to the entrance.

Whitetail Ski Resort

Whitetail, the area's newest ski resort and now in its fifth season, also has relocated and expanded its snowboarding area and enlarged its children's center.

Snowboard Park, now located at Stalker Run, has plenty of room for snowboarders to turn tricks. The terrain is varied, allowing plenty of space for tricks such as tabletops, spines, quarter pipes and the mailbox slide.

Whitetail also has doubled its supply of rental snowboards, said Matt Sawyer, a resort spokesman.

Whitetail doubled its Children's Center. The facility offers child care for toddlers, non-ski programs for youngsters ages 1 to 12, and ski instruction for children ages 4 and up. A new Mountain Adventures program, for those ages 8 to 12, offers more time outdoors in the snow.

"Parents are exposing their children to the sport at a younger age," Mr. Sawyer said. "They want the child to learn safely. Our programs really allow kids and parents to enjoy the sport. Parents get to go out and ski and children are well cared for."

To reach Whitetail, follow Interstate 70 west to Clear Spring (west of Hagerstown). Take Exit 18. Turn right off the exit and follow into Clear Spring. Go through the traffic light and follow the signs to Whitetail.

Wisp Ski Area

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