The Best of Winter is Yet to Come

By Eva Potter

March may signal the official beginning of warmer weather trends, but everyone knows that spring conditions on the slopes offer some of the best skiing and boarding of the season. It’s time to say goodbye to February with two fabulous events this weekend. Then check out the full schedule of on- and off-slope adventures that keep March in Ellicottville invigorating.

Head for the Slopes

Feb. 27 – Telestock

Freeheelers gather to share their passion for telemark skiing at Holiday Valley. The event is sponsored by the City Garage and takes place at the upper level Champagne Deck at the base of Yodeler Lodge. The event features discounted lift tickets, demo equipment, tele rentals, a cookout, T-shirts, prizes from Scarpa and 22 Designs, and more. It’s also a great opportunity to talk with other free-spirited tele fans.

Feb. 28 – Play It Forward Vertical Challenge

Holiday Valley is hosting its newest event, Play It Forward (formerly Boarding for Breast Cancer) this Saturday. Check out outdoor and indoor family fun, on-mountain challenges, prizes, a vendor village, product sampling, auctions and a great après ski party. Proceeds from this skiing and snowboarding event benefit charities in the local Western New York area. More at www.holidayvalley.com/playitforward.

March 4 

Lounsbury Veteran’s Day

Holiday Valley’s Lounsbury Adaptive Ski Program, a not-for-profit organization, is preparing for its 27th annual Veteran’s Day outing, when veterans who mostly served in Vietnam, enjoy a day on the slopes complete with expert volunteer instructors and loads of camaraderie. LASP works with veterans and people with a variety of disabilities like MS, traumatic brain injury, developmental delays, visual impairment, cerebral palsy, autism and other cognitive challenges. The event annually attracts veterans from Buffalo, Cleveland and the local area. For more information, contact Mary Ellen Racich at laspski@hotmail.com.

March 5

Ski Day for United Way 

This United Way of Cattaraugus County’s annual fundraiser is a blast for all who participate. HoliMont is hosting it again this year. Make it an annual tradition and grab your friends and family for a bluebird day on the slopes. The event runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $60 and preregistration is required — and it’s worth every penny. You receive a ski pass, event T-shirt, continental breakfast, lunch, poker run, after-ski party, plus raffles and prizes. A second option costs only $45 and includes everything but the lunch and shirt. To register, call (716) 372-3620. Registration forms are online at www.uwcattco.org.

March 6 

Free Heel Fling

Find your inner peace at HoliMont during its annual telemark skiing event for freeheelers of all ages and abilities. This fun telefest is brimming with friendship and fun, and attracts telemark skiers from afar, including Ohio, Pennsylvania and Ontario. Take advantage of clinics taught by PSIA-certified Nordic instructors, equipment demos, a tele race, raffles, shirts and more. Bring a dish to pass for the potluck lunch. The event is open to the public. Registration is $100 ($50 for HoliMont passholders) and half price for kids ages 11 and under. Limited telemark package rentals are available. Register by March 1 by calling (716) 699-8159 or email snowsports@holimont.com.

March 12-13

War Fighters Sports

HoliMont will be hosting this special Wounded Warrior event to be held in conjunction with The Adaptive Adventures Sport Coalition. The two-day training session for Wounded Warriors from the Northeast gives them an opportunity to learn to ski. Call HoliMont Snowsports at (716) 699-8159 for details.

March 14-15 Winter Carnival & Mardi Gras

This action-packed weekend at Holiday Valley includes the infamous Dummy Downhill, a costume parade down Mardi Gras, colorful snow sculptures at the base of lifts and lodges, a pancake breakfast and the infamous giant Snow Bar serving up your frostiest drinks. In the village, a lively evening parade down Washington Street, complete with marchers, floats and loads of beads, is a don’t-miss event. Grab your craziest costume and come for a weekend of fabulous fun. It’s a great time for the whole family!

March 22 

Northwind Super-G

Reach speeds in excess of 50 mph when you race the heart-pounding Northwind Super-G at Holiday Valley. The cost is $5 per racer and you can register at the Training Center that day. Get psyched with a few training runs from 9:30–10:30 a.m. The Rangers children’s group races at 11 a.m., and everyone else races at 12:30 p.m.

March 28

Pond Skimming

Take a chance on making it across an icy water-filled pond. It’s exhilarating! Sign up outside Yodeler Lodge at 11 a.m. Entry fee is $5. Too chicken? Then just come to watch the skimming antics starting around 1 p.m. with Best Skimmer, Best Costume, Best Kid and Best Splash prize categories. Kids under 18 must have a parent signature. Stick around for the after-party with music, food and the famous Cardboard Box Race. Entry details at www.holidayvalley.com.

March 28

Spring Open Slalom

This USSA-sanctioned slalom race, for U16, U18 and U21 racers, attracts racers from all over the East coast, who compete to better their standings in USSA competition. Come watch from the base of Edelweiss slope.

Alternative Outings

The whole family can enjoy Ellicottville in the wintertime with terrific options like tubing, riding the mountain coaster, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

The Holiday Valley Tubing Park offers two handle tows and 22 lanes of fun down a swift 900-foot drop. For the little ones, there’s even a Little Tubers area with a gentler slope. A warming hut, snack bar, restrooms and bonfire pit make for a relaxing time. The park is open Thursday, through Sunday, with special rates for teens on Thursday and Friday. Grab a free shuttle ride from Holiday Valley’s Resort Services Center every two hours. Hours and pricing at www.holidayvalley.com/tubing.

For a frosty adrenaline rush, head to Holiday Valley for a twisty thrill ride for one or two on the Sky High Mountain Coaster. As you barrel through the snowy woods near Tannenbaum Lodge, the 4,805-foot, gravity-defying thrill ride with 15 curves, 12 waves, a jump, plus a huge circle/spiral will leave you begging for a replay. Ride it Thursday and Friday 2–8 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays 1–8 p.m. Pricing at www.holidayvalley.com (search mountain coaster).

Take advantage of the best snowshoeing and cross-country skiing along packed trails on the golf course or along the ridgeline at Spruce Lake at Holiday Valley. A $12 lift ticket gets you two rides up Cindy’s, Mardi Gras or Tannenbaum lifts.