By Alicia Dziak

With many inches of the fluffy white stuff arriving over the past week, Ellicottville is ready to welcome skiers and snowboarders to the slopes of Holiday Valley and HoliMont.

Holiday Valley opened four lifts (Creekside, Cindy’s, Mardi Gras and Yodeler quad chairs) last weekend, and opened three more (Tannenbaum, Morning Star and Sunrise) over the course of the week, giving visitors access to 36 slopes and trails.

Heading to HV for the first time this season, guests will notice some changes. “The drop off area and parking by the main lodge is new,” said marketing director Jane Eshbaugh. “We also added about 40 parking spaces.” Other differences include the new Rental Management and Realty Building that’s right at the base of the access road for easy access and lots more parking.

Another big difference? “More snow than last year!” Eshbaugh joked.

Take advantage of lodging specials through Christmas Eve. From now until Dec. 24 when you stay at the Inn, you get two free lift tickets per room night.

Over on the other hill, HoliMont is scheduled to open on Saturday, Dec. 17. HoliMont is open to members only on weekends and open to the public on weekdays.

There were many off the radar enhancements at HoliMont made this year, including new snow making pipelines, lift parts and maintenance and slope regrading.  The Cross Country Trail rebuild took quite a bit of muscle and machine. The new XC Trail is much wider and smoother, which will allow them to groom and pack the trail for more users. Toward the top of the trail is a new lean-to for warm-ups and club adventurers. Late season trail work was completed on the single track that connects the XC trail with the KC Trail and Mutton Hollow Road. This access opens up a whole new realm for skiers, snowshoers and hikers alike. For more info, visit www.holimont.com.

The Holiday Valley Tubing Company, located on the corner of Rt. 242 and Bryant Hill Road, is scheduled to open on Thursday, Dec. 22. Tubing is fun for everyone— all you have to do is sit down, hang on and experience the exhilaration of pure winter fun! The Tubing Park has up to 22 lanes including that are 900 feet long and drop 100 vertical feet, plus two handle tows to pull you back up the hill. A cozy warming hut is at the base of the hill with a snack bar, fireplace and restrooms. Or you can warm up and rest outside at the giant bonfire pit. A free shuttle service to and from Holiday Valley is available every two hours during operating hours. Regular Tubing Park hours (weather permitting) are as follows: Thursdays and Fridays from 4:30 to 9 p.m., Saturdays 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.   Visit www.holidayvalley.com for info, rates and schedule. Before heading out, check the snow report for any updates, or call 716-699-TUBE.

The Sky Flyer Mountain Coaster opens for the winter season on Friday, Dec. 23. Visit this thrilling attraction near the Tannenbaum Lodge and get ready for a thrilling ride down through the snowy woods! The Mountain Coaster is similar to a roller coaster but it is low to the ground and follows the contours of the terrain. You ride alone or with a friend in a “car” attached to rails that pulls you up the hill, then it follows a zig zagging spiraling path down the mountain. You can control the speed of your car with levers on the sides of the car. The Coaster operates during the winter season from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday, plus holidays, weather permitting. Tickets may be purchased at any ticket window or at lodging properties. Purchase your mountain coaster ticket with your lift ticket and save.