- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 16, 2003

Riding an upsurge in participation, Washington Ski International will launch its 27th season of recreational racing in January, bringing its brand of friendly competition to the Middle Atlantic, a region where skiing’s popularity is rising.

Last season, thanks to great snow conditions and good weather throughout the region, the number of racers in WSI’s Mid-Atlantic Ski Championship series increased sharply.

“We were getting something like 60 to 80 racers at every race last season,” WSI founder and director Sam Mantis said. “In previous years, we’d be happy with 40 to 50 racers. The whole idea of the races is still to go out and have some fun.”

Mantis credits the participation increase to the 15 or so clubs that compete in the series, ranging from traditional ski clubs to community organizations to groups of co-workers. A few years ago, embassies put together teams and brought an international flavor to the series.

“[The clubs] got into the spirit of competition, and they talk it up and bring more people out,” Mantis said. “Some of the clubs have been bringing in 18-year-olds, bringing younger skiers into racing.”

The races, usually in modified giant slalom format, are open to all recreational skiers. Racing skis and boots are not needed. Professionals, or anyone who is compensated for skiing, cannot compete, although they sometimes run the course for fun. There are individual and team awards, and competition is broken down into gender and age categories.

The entry fee is $10 for each race, and registration begins the morning of the event. Racers are eligible for discounted lift tickets at the resorts on race days.

The seven weekend series begins Jan.3-4 at Whitetail Resort in Mercersburg, Pa., and will visit seven other ski areas before ending Feb.14-15.

For more information, contact Mantis at 301/946-0190.

Thanksgiving at Wintergreen — Wintergreen Resort in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains will celebrate the holiday with Thanksgiving dinners at the resort’s three restaurants. The next day, Nov.28 from 10a.m. to 4p.m., Wintergreen will have its annual Ski Swap to benefit the resort’s ski patrol. Items for sale will be accepted after 9a.m. Contact: 434/325-8060.

The weekend also features events, workshops for children and adults and a number of parties. Wintergreen anticipates opening for skiing Nov.29. Contact: 434/325-8180; wintergreenresort.com.

Learn to ski for under $20 — Whitetail Resort in Mercersburg, Pa., has a special learn-to-ski or -snowboard package for $19 from opening day through Dec.23. The offer includes lift ticket (for beginner terrain only), lesson and rental.

The Whitetail Race Team, for junior racers, is preparing for the upcoming season. The team competes in regional and club races. Contact: 717/328-9400; skiwhitetail.com.

Snowmaking at Snowshoe — Cold temperatures last weekend allowed Snowshoe Resort’s snowmakers to get in 24 hours of snowmaking in preparation for opening day Friday. Snowshoe will make snow at every opportunity.

Some of the best deals of the year are available now for regular-season lodging and skiing at Snowshoe. Midweek packages can save as much as 40 percent on lodging and as much as 20 percent on lift tickets. One of the best deals is a $99 midweek package that includes two nights lodging and two lift tickets. Contact: 877/441-4386; snowshoemtn.com.

Snow Sports appears on Sundays in The Washington Times during the winter. Contact: bclapper@washingtontimes.com.

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