For skiers and snowboarders alike, there’s no better place to live than the Capital Region for easy and quick access to some of the country’s top snow sports resorts.
The annual Albany Ski and Snowboard Expo at the Empire State Plaza is well-attended by patrons and resorts alike. These resorts know the benefits of putting their facility before avid skiers and riders in this market. This year’s show is November 7-9. (www.albanyskiandsnowboardexpo.com)
In New York, we have more snow-covered facilities than any single state in the nation. It’s ironic that other states might come to mind first when most people think of these sports. But with over 50 sites in New York—many of them within a two- to three-hour drive from Albany—the choices are grand.
They range from an Olympic Mountain, at Whiteface, near Lake Placid; to a more mom and pop operation, such as Maple Ski Ridge in Schenectady; to the big mountain feel of Gore in between.
Drive two hours to the south and you’ll find iconic resorts, such as Hunter and Windham, with a reorganized Belleayre nearby.
If you cross the border into New England, choices include Mount Snow, Stratton Mountain, Okemo Mountain Resort, Pico and Killington, all in Vermont. Less than an hour from the state capital in Massachusetts, have a look at Jiminy Peak.
Many of the sites have undertaken extensive upgrades off-season. Gore Mountain in North Creek is in the process of adding the Adirondack Express II, set to open in December. The detachable, high-speed quad chair replaces the Adirondack Express, but continues to serve the same long, rolling and exuberant terrain as the original lift.
Jibbers and free-riders will note the terrain park improvements at Okemo, along with better snowmaking (if that’s possible at Okemo), and more partnership benefits with Killington and Pico.
But the mother of all new installations is Okemo’s brand new high-speed, six-passenger bubble chair, known as the Sunburst Six. Its seats are heated and the 113 chairs are accompanied by a retractable, tinted dome—the first of its kind in North America.
This is just a sampling of the improvements at our snow sports resorts, but the reason for funding Okemo’s projects could be carried to other areas.
"We are always trying to look ahead and do more here at Okemo,” said Mountain Resort VP and General Manager Bruce Schmidt. “We asked ourselves what improvements would have the biggest impact on our guests’ skiing and riding experience and I think we came up with some good solutions."
Safety on the slopes
Finally, as we get ready for the first runs of the season, we have two key recommendations to ensure safety on the slopes.
First, spend some time getting your ski and board muscles accustomed to what’s ahead. Check with your physician or a professionally certified trainer before undertaking any kind of exercise regimen. When done properly in advance of the season, you’ll find that your aerobic and anaerobic capacities are ready for the task ahead.
Secondly, take your gear to a shop with certified mechanics and make sure the bindings are set for your ability, weight and the kind of terrain you prefer. Too many seasons have ended on the first day for people who overlooked this step. Also, have the bases flat filed and the edges prepped according to the conditions.
Take care of these items and as soon as Mother Nature cooperates, you’ll be ready for an epic season.
Next month we’ll learn to ski. Between instruction and equipment, it’s never been easier.