Amid the threat of a warming planet, Central New York experienced consistently cold temperatures and regular snowfall during the 2014-2015 winter, a perfect scenario for Nordic and alpine skiers alike. Although seasonal weather predictions are basically guesswork, winter sports enthusiasts are nonetheless hopeful that the 2015-2016 season will provide plenty of opportunities as well.
Forever optimistic but weather dependent, the local alpine ski centers — namely Toggenburg, Song Mountain, Labrador, Greek Peak, Snow Ridge and Four Seasons — are busy preparing for the coming season, and consolidation is the buzzword.
Reflecting the economic realities of the risky ski business, Toggenburg, located on Route 80 in Fabius, has been acquired by Greek Peak, the resort in Virgil, near Cortland. This union will offer season-pass holders at Toggenburg (520-foot vertical drop, 21 trails, two terrain parks), the option of skiing at the larger Greek Peak (952-foot vertical drop, 38 trails, three terrain parks) and vice versa for the price of one season pass. This is a windfall especially for Toggenburg skiers, since season passes there start at $370 (prior to Dec. 1), where at Greek Peak the price is $649.
In addition, Toggenburg offers free season passes to anyone age 70 and over. And Greek Peak has a Nordic Center for skiers, snowshoers and fat bikes. Complete information on these deals is available at skitog.com or greekpeakmtnresort.com.
Not to be left out, Song Mountain (songmountain.com), off Interstate 81’s Exit 14 in Tully, and Labrador Mountain (labradormtn.com) on Route 91 in Truxton have combined to offer an “Intermountain Passport,” good at either site. Season passes at Song (700-foot vertical drop, 24 trails, five lifts, no terrain park) begin at $406 prior to Dec. 1, as they are at Labrador (700-foot vertical drop, 22 trails, six lifts, no terrain park). In addition, the “Intermountain Passport” is good for two complimentary lift tickets at Okemo Mountain (okemo.com), the much larger resort (2,200-foot vertical drop, 121 trails, 20 lifts, eight terrain parks) in Ludlow, Vt.
Heading north into the notorious Tug Hill lake effect snow belt, the aptly named Snow Ridge (snowridge.com) in Turin is in the right place at the right time. A modestly sized hill (500-foot vertical drop, 22 trails, six lifts, terrain park), Snow Ridge boasts an average snowfall of 230-plus inches and is usually open by Thanksgiving. Season passes start at $395 prior to Dec. 1.
Closer to home, Four Seasons Golf and Ski (fourseasonsgolfandski.com) on Route 5 east of Fayetteville offers a “great place to learn to ski and have some fun,” according to owner John Goodfellow. With an imposing vertical drop of 100 feet, the area offers new snowmaking capabilities, a chairlift and a conveyor (a.k.a. “magic carpet”), rails for snowboard tricksters, snow tubing and six trails. Once dubbed “the smallest ski area in America,” a title it has apparently ceded to another area in the Catskills, Four Seasons offers a season pass for a mere $165.
For Nordic skiers, the weather is more of a factor, since snowmaking is not an option. Local opportunities abound, however, when conditions permit. Local parks, including Green Lakes State Park (Route 5, Fayetteville, nysparks.com), offer trails for skiing and snowshoeing.
Onondaga County parks (onondagacountyparks.com) including Beaver Lake Nature Center in Baldwinsville, Oneida Shores on Oneida Lake, and Highland Forest in Fabius also offer similar options. Highland Forest, especially, is a premium winter destination, featuring 40 miles of trails, 20 of them groomed, as well as three loops for skating skiers. Admission and/or trail fees apply at most of these areas. Let it snow.
It’s Miller Time Again
A sure sign that winter is near: The annual cinematic ski spectacle from Warren Miller Entertainment has already been booked. Chasing Shadows, the 66th winter sports flick from the company, will play Wednesday, Nov. 25, 7:30 p.m., at the Landmark Theatre, 362 S. Salina St.
While auteur Miller has retired from the ski scene, Chasing Shadows will likely follow the similar template established by the previous 65 entries. So expect plenty of globetrotting gonzo thrills as skiers and snowboarders comb the planet in search of the perfect schussing experience, all accompanied by a throbbing rock soundtrack that won’t let audiences snooze. Alaska’s Chugach range and the Himalayas are some of the scenic stops for wax maniacs such as Caroline Gleich, Steven Nyman and J.T. Holmes.
Admission is $17. Call 475-7979 for information.