WinterFest, an annual celebration of on- and off-snow activities, began Friday at Seven Springs and continues through Jan. 25.
And the snow conditions are the “best of the season,” said ski patrol director Dick Barron.
He said the snowmaking system has been “running to the max” and snowgrooming machines have been leveling it off and rolling it to leave a corduroy finish that makes it easy to carve turn after turn.
It’s only going to get better, Barron said.
“There’s snow in the forecast and great snowmaking temperatures, too,” he added.
The festival, now in its 27th year, is co-hosted by the resort and WTAE.
The station will broadcast its weather forecasts and on-site interviews live from the Bavarian Deck of the Main Lodge at 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. today and Sunday and from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Jan. 25
The highlight of today’s events will be the TransWorld SNOWboarding TransAM Contest beginning at 8 a.m. at The Spot.
“As always, we’ll be progressing, trying new things and having fun,” TransWorld SNOWboarding magazine reminded the participants.
“That’s what this contest has always been about. We declare winners and it’s a good way to get your name out there, but it’s really about the camaraderie [of] just snowboarding together and having a good time.
“We give away sweet prizes, play music and build weird stuff that you might only ride one day in your entire life.”
There will be free movies throughout the festival, including “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” at 2 p.m. today and “Freedom Force” at 7 p.m.; “Snow Queen” at 2 p.m. Sunday and “Fast & Furious 6” at 7 p.m., all in the Dogwood Forum.
There will be daily specials at the Grille at Sporting Clays to entice visitors to take a short bus ride to that impressive venue, disc jockeys galore and live entertainment.
Snowshoe tours will be held Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. There will be a 15 percent discount on “universal facials,” hydrotherapy and sports massages Tuesday through Thursday at the Trillium Spa.
Learn to Ski Day will be held at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Wednesday and includes rental equipment, a lesson and lift ticket for $65. A $65 package for first-time snowboarders will be offered at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Thursday.
Eyes on the snow
One of the easiest ways to view the amount of natural snow in the Laurel Highlands is to visit www.paccsa.org, the website of the Pennsylvania Cross Country Skiers Association, and click on its Laurel Ridge and Laurel Mountain webcams.
The association is trying to raise $3,000 to replace its “aging” webcams and pay for the Internet service.
Those who join the association or renew their membership before March 26 will be entered into a weekly drawing for an oil change at any of the #1 Cochran locations and a gift from REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.).
PACCSA is a 501 [c] non-profit organization and donations are tax-deductible.
The dues are $6 per person, and $9 for a family.
Larger donations also are welcome.
Checks should be made out to PACCSA and mailed to Rick Garstka, Treasurer, 309 W. Marion St., Munhall, PA, 15120.
Boyce Park is in good shape for skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing this weekend, thanks to extensive snowmaking and some natural snow.
The five open slopes and trails, served by the chairlift and surface lift, have an 18-inch to 36-inch base. The terrain park is open. The six snow tubing lanes, served by a handle tow, have a 20-inch to 40-inch base.
Information: www.alleghenycounty.us/winterfun; 724-733-4656; 724-733-4665.
Larry Walsh writes about recreational snow sports for the Post-Gazette.