I wrote a feature story on local ski resorts for Point Park students and other Pittsburghers to visit over Christmas break. It was published online by the Point Park News Service on December 2, 2013.

Point Park News Service – Ski Resorts Feature Range of Options

Western Pennsylvania’s ski resorts are offering a range of activities and special prices — including college student discounts — for the upcoming season.

At Hidden Valley Resort in Somerset County, skiers can enjoy the thrill of the mountain while also relaxing at the lodge. The resort, a one-hour drive from Pittsburgh, is one of the more popular ski resorts for beginners with 11 lifts, and 31 trails and slopes. The resort features skiing, snowboarding, tubing and a mountain spa. Ticket rates on weekends are $37, ski rentals are $22 and board rentals are $25. Group discounts are available.

“I like Hidden Valley for snowboarding, because as a beginner, it’s a lot easier to ride their slopes,” said Noelle Barnhart, a freshman Point Park University student majoring in broadcasting and recording. “There’s also a lot less people, and the trails aren’t as intense.”

A half-pipe competitor soars high above Seven Springs Mountain Resort. Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review

Seven Springs Resort, in Champion, Somerset County, features a regular ski and snowboard ticket for $69 Friday-Sunday from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. Weekday tickets are $52. Ski and snowboard rentals are $40 for one day. Weekend snowtubing is $27.

Anna Weltz, communications manager for Seven Springs, said that now because the company also owns nearby Hidden Valley, “both resorts offer college student discounts on season passes and discounted lift tickets for students as well.”

Point Park student Christopher Squier, a junior photojournalism major from Connecticut, said he’s excited to hop back on his snowboard.

“I usually go out West for the best snow and mountains, but I already bought my Seven Springs season pass, because it’s only 45 minutes away,” he said. “I grew up with snowboarding. I’ve worked at the resort back home and watched it all my life. I’m always looking forward to snowboarding as soon as summer is over.”

Boyce Park, spanning Plum and Monroeville in Allegheny County, provides a close, relatively inexpensive option for winter sports enthusiasts.

“It’s mostly a beginner area for skiing, snowboarding and tubing. There is Port Authority transportation available, but buses don’t drop off exactly at the area,” said Rick McIntyre, a park information representative.

The park, which features a ski lodge, one lift and five trails, offers lift tickets for $14 and rentals for $10.

Nemacolin Woodlands Resort’s Mystic Mountain features a small skiing and snowboarding area with three lifts and six slopes.

The resort, in Farmington, Fayette County, offers $43 lift tickets daily except Saturday. A night pass (3 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday) is $25. Rentals are $35 and snowtubing is $15 daily. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are both $20 daily.

“Opening day is always Dec. 24, but it’s open until the end of February,” said Michelle Lacek, the resort’s information operator. “The slopes and trails are mostly beginner and intermediate.”

Blue Knob in Claysburg, Bedford County, has four lifts and the steepest vertical drops in the state for skiing, snowboarding and snowtubing. The resort has a flat $38 lift ticket price Sunday after 2 p.m. to Friday at 4 p.m., a $60 lift ticket from 4 p.m. Friday to 2 p.m., $30 ski rentals and $42 board rentals. To snow tube on the weekends, it’s $20.

A skier makes his way down Stowe slope at Seven Springs Mountain Resort. Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review

“The locals in Claysburg love it because it’s not advertised very much, so a lot of people don’t know about it,” said Aaron Zaverl, a Pittsburgh snowboarder who visits Blue Knob frequently. “The slopes are a pretty intermediate difficulty.”

Outside Pennsylvania, Wisp, in McHenry, Md., offers not only a Nordic center and snowmobiling, but also a mountain coaster, and 10 lifts and 32 trails.

The Bear Claw Adventure Combo packages snowtubing, a mountain coaster ride and an ice-skating session with the rental for $45. The lift ticket is $59 on Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. and 9 p.m., and snow tubing is $35 on Saturday and Sunday starting at 10 a.m.

Cecalie Georg, the resort’s general information representative, said, “The slopes range from beginner to advanced, and we’re adding some new features to the beginners side of the resort.”