The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Features

January 6, 2013

Downhill delights | Blue Knob, Hidden Valley groomed for skiing, tubing faithful

Snow lovers who relish downhill or cross-country skiing, snowboarding or tubing are fortunate to have several quality ski resorts in the area that provide mountains of fun.

Hidden Valley Four Seasons Resort, near Bakersville, has made improvements and added services to enhance guests’ experiences.

Seven Springs adds terrain park

The resort offers a multitude of activities and amenities, including overnight lodging, skiing, snowboarding and tubing slopes, skiing and snowboarding lessons, a sports club, retail facilities and a spa.

Notable improvements made this summer will enhance the experience of all Hidden Valley guests.

“Successful snowmaking efforts combined with several inches of natural snow have set us up for a great early season of skiing and boarding,” said Scott Bender, vice president of resort operations. “This season, we are bringing back our learn-to-ski incentive programs and very affordable stay-and-ski-free packages so that everyone can take full advantage of Hidden Valley’s winter programs and facilities.”

Hidden Valley’s automated, state-of-the-art snowmaking system, the largest such installation in the United States, has been improved with 20 percent more pumping capacity that will enhance snowmaking on all areas of the mountain. Snowmaking was added on Voyager, Cougar and Charger trails on the North Summit ski area. The Charger improvement allows for more consistently available advanced terrain.

“We increased pumping capacity to better service the entire mountain and to ensure a great experience for all skiers and boarders,” Bender said. “We have had over 2 feet of natural snow this season, but we are continually making snow.”

The snowmaking system ensures the slopes will have great snow cover.

Wintersports U, Hidden Valley’s ski and snowboard school, continues its Smart Start program, a three-step course designed to shorten the learning curve for first-time skiers.

“The Smart Start program and similar lessons will significantly improve anyone’s first experience on the ski slopes by providing innovative options to those just starting their skier lifestyle,” Bender said.

The graduated learning process is designed to take skiers from their first trip through the rental shop to the snow on the new teaching area, to their first chairlift ride and ending with making turns and exploring the mountain.

“We have added a line of high-performance ski rental equipment to the rental shop,” Bender said. “By adding the better quality rental equipment, the more experienced skiers appreciate the upgrade.”

More adult and junior snowboard boots and ski poles, junior snowboard bindings and junior skis and ski bindings have been purchased for the rental shop.

An all-day adult ticket good for skiing and riding from 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturdays is $55, while an adult night-session ticket, good from 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturdays, is $35.

Other tickets cost less.

The resort is 2,875 feet above sea level with a 470-foot vertical drop.

There are 28 trails ranging from 11 novice runs to two expert slopes. They are served by five chairlifts and four surface lifts.

Bender estimated the enthusiasts on the hill number 60 percent skiers and 40 percent snowboarders.

“Snowboarding is an ever-growing facet of the resort, and I see more people of a mature age giving it a try,” Bender said. “It’s like snow surfing and enjoyable to all ages.”

Voyager Trail received an extensive face-lift over the summer. Lights were installed and the trail was widened to double its original size to provide for an easier way down the North Summit.

“We also added more snowmaking pumping capacity to make our state-of-the-art system even more productive,” Bender said.

Skiers and snowboarders also will notice new seat pads on the Avalanche quad chairlift.

“Avalanche is one of our longest lifts, and it had hard plastic seats,” Bender said. “They were not very comfortable.

“I’m sure our guests will be appreciative of the added padding.”

To accommodate the growing popularity of snow tubing, the resort has added additional tubes, bringing the total to 280.

“Snow tubing is the perfect opportunity for everyone to enjoy winter fun with the entire family,” Bender said.

“There’s no skill required – just sit back and enjoy the ride down the

tubing chutes while our conveyor lift takes you back to the top in no time.”

The resort continues to improve its overnight guests’ experiences.

Various areas of the ski lodge and restrooms have been updated with new flooring and/or carpeting and fresh paint.

“Several rooms and suites in the Four Seasons Lodge have received bathroom updates and furnishing upgrades,” Bender said.

Information: 443-8000 or www.hiddenvalleyresort.com.

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