"This is a perfect place for families," said Graham Turnbull of Mt. Lebanon as he watched Lilah, 6, and Rainiah, 4, descend the Bobcat beginner's slope. They preferred coming straight down instead of doing the giant slalom turns their dad encouraged them to try.
"The kids love the freedom and independence of skiing here," he said, referring to the girls coming toward him and two older children -- Theron, 11, and Marian, 9 -- who were in school. Nine-month-old Reed was at home with his mother, Mandy.
"We're a skiing family," Turnbull said. "With the exception of Reed, we all have season passes here."
He praised the work of sports shop manager Mike Demao and rental shop manager Tom Duman for having his daughters' skis and boots ready for them before the lifts started running at 10 a.m.
And he appreciated the encouragement they received from Jim Blough and Darlene Heitchew, who operate the Bobcat conveyor lift. They've operated the slow-moving, easy-on, easy-off lift the past 14 years.
"We both love children and we love what we do," Heitchew said.
"It's fun to watch the kids get the hang of it," Blough said. "You see the light come on in their eyes and away they go."
The resort had three slopes open -- Continental, Rambler and Bobcat -- and the Learn-to-Ski/Snowboard area. Lift tickets for adults and children are $25 today and tomorrow. It also is offering discounted rental equipment and group lessons.
Hidden Valley is holding a Job Fair from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the base lodge, and its race club is playing host to a ski/snowboard swap from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., also in the lodge. Its kickoff party starts at noon in Glaciers Pub.
"Mandy and I love what the Buncher Company has done since it bought the resort [Aug. 31, 2007]," Turnbull said. "It has made a number of improvements, especially in the quality of the snowmaking."
Snowmaking also was a topic of conversation at Seven Springs, where the average base depth was 16 inches and skiers and snowboarders had their choice of eight slopes and trails and one terrain park.
Kathy and Keith Sekera of Level Green enjoyed a day on the snow while sons Kurtis, 12, and Kristopher, 10, "both big skiers" were in school.
Lift tickets are $45 for adults and $35 for children 6 to 11. The resort will provide $10 discount on Sunday lift tickets for those who bring a new unwrapped toy for the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program.
The Pittsburgh Ski Club will celebrate its 75th anniversary Friday with dinner and dancing at the Embassy Suites, 550 Cherrington Parkway in Moon.
The $45 cost for members, $50 for non-members, includes complimentary cocktails and appetizers and a four-course sit-down dinner -- chicken, salmon or vegan. The cost for dancing only is $10 for members, $12 for non-members. The deadline is today.
Checks payable to the club should be sent to Bettie Ann Stephenson, c/o Stitch Wizards, 1009 4th Ave., Coraopolis, Pa., 15108.
Include your address, phone number, email address and dinner selection. Information: www.pittsburghskiclub.org.
Larry Walsh writes about recreational snow sports for the Post-Gazette.