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Ski and Snowboard a Variety of Areas Within a Few Hours of Wheeling

By JANET METZNER

Staff Writer

Each ski area, like each winter sports enthusiast, has its own personality.

There are plenty of ski areas located within only a few hours’ drive of Wheeling: enough to match skiers’ and snowboarders’ preferences, including family trips, traditional alpine skiing, terrain-skiers and snowboarders, beginners, and those who enjoy snow tubing, and even live music and entertainment. And all are within only a few hours’ drive of Wheeling — both east and west along Interstate 70.

∫ Seven Springs Laurel Mountain is 82.8 miles away, at 770 Ligonier Road, Rector, Pa. It’s a two-hour drive from Wheeling, with an iconic skiers’ mountain that originally opened in the 1930s, and features one of the steepest slopes in Pennsylvania: The Lowerwildcat.

∫ Seven Springs Mountain Resort, at 75.7 miles away, at 777 Water Wheel Drive, Champion, PaA. It’s a one-hour, 46 minute drive from Wheeling, the center of ski activity in the area, with a nationally ranked terrain park for flips and tricks.

∫ Hidden Valley Resort, 96.5 miles away, at 1 Craighead Road, Hidden Valley, Pa. It’s a one-hour, 41-minute drive from Wheeling, and features a lot of beginner terrain and classes.

∫ Oglebay Resort ski slopes, at 432 Oglebay Drive in Wheeling. It features short slopes that are perfect for a daily workout, for honing terrain skills such as jumps or tricks, and for taking beginner classes in skiing and snowboarding.

∫ Mad River Mountain, 179.8 miles away, and a 2-hour, 47-minute drive, with its popular Avalanche Tubing Park, three terrain parks, 20 trails and 144 acres of skiable areas, and a large Adventure Place program for kids.

∫ Laurel Mountain to open after 11 years

Traditional, alpine skiers will be enthusiastic about the re-opening this year of Laurel Mountain in Rector, Pa., a ski area that boasts one of the steepest slopes in the state of Pennsylvania: The Lower Wildcat. It’s within Laurel Mountain State Park, and has been closed for 11 years, but that changes this season when Seven Springs operates the slopes and lodge, said Katie Buchan, communications manager for Seven Springs Mountain Resort.

“It’s an iconic skiers’ mountain, with very challenging terrain,” Buchan said, noting that its grade averages 60 percent, but is as high as 72 percent, and that the ski area originally opened in the 1930s. Because it’s a state park, there’s no lodging there, but there are hotels and restaurants in nearby Ligonier, Pa., a 15-minute drive. Or, visitors to Laurel Mountain can stay at the nearby Seven Springs Mountain Resort, as part of a lodging package.

Seven Springs offers variety, lodging packages

Seven Springs is the center activity for its three ski areas. Its Hidden Valley Resort and Laurel Mountain are all within a 15- to 40-minute drive of each other, Buchan explained.

But it’s Seven Springs that has the most lodging and varied activities, including competitions, lots of opportunity for freestyle skiing and snowboarding, and nationally ranked terrain parks for doing flips, tricks, and giant jumps and a snowtubing park, she said.

Also at Seven Springs, there’s a new holiday event “Holidays in the Highlands,” leading into Christmas, Buchan said. That event, set for Nov. 25-27, features 30 regional arts and craft vendors, a four-mile lights display, holiday foods, Santa Express holiday train. Admission to the event is free. It’s held from 5-9 p.m. Friday, 3-9 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

There’s a lodging package starting at $213 per person, for two nights of lodging, snow tubing, foods, miniature golf and bowling, swimming and more. For more info, visit 7springs.com, or call 866-437-1300.

Hidden Valley Resort

focuses on families,

beginners

“Hidden Valley has some of the best beginner terrain on the East Coast,” Buchan said. “It’s a great place for little ones to learn to ski or snowboard, in a very family-friendly atmosphere.”

At Hidden Valley, there are 26 slopes and trails, two terrain parks, and snow tubing, as well.

A snow tubing package starts at $95 per person, per night, and is available Thursday through Sunday, from Jan. 5 to March 6, according to the resort website.

For info on this snow tubing package, or for information on the Highlands Ski Package, that includes activities at the three resorts of Hidden Valley, Seven Springs and Laurel Mountain, call 866-437-1300.

Hidden Valley Resort is only a 25-mile drive to Laurel Mountain, or a 15-mile drive to Seven Springs, Buchan said.

For more info on the resort, visit hiddenvalleyresort.com, or call 814-443-8000.

Oglebay slopes convenient

for locals

At Oglebay Resort in Wheeling, there are opportunities for beginners to learn to ski, and for locals to get in a good workout and to hone their skiing skills, said Rico Coville, director of golf, skiing and tennis.

“It’s a convenient place to drop off the kids, and a good place for adults to come and get a good cardio workout,” he said. There’s now a three-chair lift, ski and snowboarding lessons and clinics, and a terrain park, as well. “We have a small terrain park for kids to jump, or advanced skiers to slide across, to do some jumps and tricks.”

Once the conditions are good — hopefully by mid-December — then it will be the easiest place for Ohio Valley residents get their winter sports fix. The slopes will be open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only, with the exception of some special events planned for some Thursdays, Coville said.

There are season passes to purchase, as well as daily lift tickets. For example, daily lift tickets cost $22-$26 per adult and $16-$21 for children, depending on the day of the week, all plus tax.

And there are groups 5 or 10 visits to purchase. For five visits, adults will pay $89 plus tax, and a child under ages 17 and under, $69 plus tax, Coville said. For 10 visits, it costs $99 per child, and $129 per adult, plus tax.

Rental equipment costs an additional $22-$28 for adults, depending on the day of the week, but rentals are at no cost for children, he said. Oglebay is known for its hour-long ski and snowboard clinics for kids, held at 9:30 a.m. (ski) and 10 a.m. (snowboard), on Saturdays, Coville said.

For more info, visit ski.oglebay-resort.com, or call 800-624-6988.

Mad River rises from

ashes renewed

After a fire burned down its lodge last year, Mad River Mountain in Zanesville, Ohio, is making a comeback and is bigger than ever, in this, its 55th season, including a new, $6.5 million lodge with a loft bar-and-dining area seating 300, where there will be live music on Saturday nights, and a disc jockey on Fridays, said Mike Mihnovets, marketing and events manager. Another dining area seats 800, he said.

While there’s no lodging at Mad River, visitors can find plenty in nearby Belle Fountain and Marysville, he said.

The resort will be open for skiing from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; From 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays; from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturdays, and 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sundays.

Continuing this year is the resort’s Adventure Place, with four different programs for children, including programs in the weekend Discovery Ski and Board, ski lessons session for kids, available for either a half-day or full-day. Parents can drop off the kids from 10 a.m. to noon, or 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The cost, for example, $70 for a half-day, includes lift tickets and ski rentals, Mihnovets said.

Mad River’s separate entity, Avalanche Tubing Park, boasts 10 tubing lanes, or trails, and will be open Thursday through Sunday, as well as some holidays, Mihnovets said.

For more info, call Mad River Mountain at 800-231-7669, or visit skimadriver.com.

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