- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 8, 2002

The snowguns at three central Pennsylvania resorts blew nearly 'round the clock last week. As a result Liberty Mountain Resort (Carroll Valley), Ski Roundtop (Lewisberry) and Whitetail (Mercersburg) were able to beat their traditional mid- to late-December openings.
The three resorts are the closest to the District, with Liberty about an hour's drive, Whitetail an hour and a half and Roundtop almost two hours.
Advantage Cards and season passes are interchangeable at the three areas. The Advantage Card allows skiers and snowboarders to save 40 percent off every visit. Family cards also are available. Roundtop lift tickets are $15, as are learn-to-ski and snowboard packages. Information: Liberty, 717/642-8282, www.skiliberty.com; Ski Roundtop, 717/432-9631, www.skiroundtop.com; Whitetail, 717/328-9400, www.skiwhitetail.com.
Snow buries Snowshoe More than a yard of snow has fallen on Snowshoe Mountain Resort in West Virginia, giving the area tremendous conditions for this early in the season.
This abundance and massive snowmaking efforts allowed Snowshoe to open its 1.5-mile, 1,500-foot vertical expert trail, Cupp Run, on Friday. Usually, Cupp isn't skiable until Christmas or later.
The snowguns at Silver Creek were pressed into service, and plans are for that area to open Friday with a least four lifts and about 10 trails. The Tubing Hill at Silver Creek is already going strong, while the Spruce Glades terrain park was ready on opening day.
The annual On-the-Slope Demo/Winter Celebration Days of Saturday and next Sunday will be huge again. Manufacturer vans full of skis and snowboards line up bumper to bumper along Snowshoe's summit and have new gear to demo. All you need is a lift ticket and some sort of ID or credit card to try out the latest in skis and boards. Some snowboard manufacturers also have boots. Information: 877/441-4386; www.snowshoemtn.com.
Hidden Valley early
It had been 15 years since Hidden Valley Four Seasons Resort in Somerset, Pa., opened as early as Thanksgiving. But unusually cold weather and plenty of snow off the Great Lakes allowed the resort in Pennsylvania's Laurel Highlands to turn on its chairlifts the day after Thanksgiving.
Early season discounts are in effect on skiing and snowboarding with $15 lift passes. Hidden Valley's cross-country ski center and the snowtubing chutes also are open. Information: 800/443-7544; www.hiddenvalleyresort.com.
Free lift tickets at Wintergreen
Until Dec.22, lodging is $69 a person per night at Wintergreen Resort in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. Each person receives a free lift ticket for each night of stay and a free ticket for the day of arrival. The deal is based on double occupancy and is not valid with other discounts, and lift tickets must be used during that stay.
Wintergreen boasts 20 slopes and trails, more than 1,000 feet of vertical drop, Virginia's only halfpipe and two tubing parks. In addition, Wintergreen has year-round golf, tennis and a spa. Information: 800/266-2444; www.wintergreenresort.com.
Grab a Blue Knob six-pack
Blue Knob in Claysburg, Pa., has a deal on six-packs for Christmas. No, not that kind of six-pack; Blue Knob's deal is a package of six lift tickets for $150. The tickets can be used for any session during the season. Season passes are also on sale at Blue Knob until Christmas.
Blue Knob is looking to open Saturday after a summer of upgrading its snowmaking system. New pumps, bigger pipes and more snowguns mean an increase in snowmaking efficiency and capacity this winter. Information: 814/239-5111; www.blueknob.com.
Massanutten's Intergalactic Competition
Massanutten Resort in Harrisonburg, Va., is probably the only ski/snowboard resort in the universe that has truly open snowboard competition. The five-event series, the Massanutten Intergalactic Race of Champions (MIROC), is for riders of all ability levels and apparently will accept competitors from earth and other planets. The entry regulations are simple and understandable: "Any man, woman, vegetable or mineral who can strap on a snowboard can qualify."
The race format will vary for each competition, and all races and registration are in the snowboard park at Massanutten. The schedule is available at the resort. In fairness, riders will compete in divisions men's beginner, men's expert, rockstar and women's open.
There's more at Massanutten than intergalactic tricks in the terrain park. All slopes are lit for night skiing. There's snow tubing, Virginia's first quad chairlift, 1,100 feet of vertical and 14 slopes/trails. Information: 800/207-6277, 540/289-9441; www.massresort.com.
Good grades mean free skiing at Wisp
Wisp at Deep Creek Mountain Resort in McHenry, Md., has found a way to encourage youngsters to maintain good grades. This season any fourth-grader can ski or snowboard free at Wisp if they have a B average or better.
"Last season we awarded 43 season passes to Garrett County fourth-graders," said Jerry Geisler, a vice president at Wisp. "We've expanded the 'Ski Free with a B' program to all B average fourth-graders from our neighboring states and counties to promote the importance of education and reward students for their efforts."
Students need to bring a current report card to Wisp's guest services department to pick up a season pass.
Wisp opened its snow tubing park Thursday. It has added two lanes to the park and has a package of 10 weekday passes (each good for a two-hour session) for $100. Information: 301/387-4911; www.skiwisp.com.

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