By Eva Potter

It’s time to get out your winter calendar, because you are about to get very busy. With tens of thousands of people doing daily snow dances, crossing their fingers for luck and willing the snow to fall, despite the forecast, winter is hopefully here to stay. And with all this wishing and willing comes a list of winter activities so long, that you’ll be whipping that calendar out before you finish reading.

Happy Trails to You

Yes, folks, you’ve probably heard the talk about town and have seen the photo of the generous donation of $5,000 by Holiday Valley to kick start the Ellicottville–Great Valley Recreation Trail building project and to help fund a comprehensive study that will be used to develop a multi-use recreational and bike trail in the area. It’s really happening!

On Aug. 7, 2012, a small group of area leaders and businesspeople formed the Ellicottville – Great Valley Trail Organizational Committee to discuss the possibility of building a multi-use recreation trail. As soon as word hit the streets, the grapevine began buzzing with excitement about a traffic-free, handicap-accessible recreation trail for jogging, bicycling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, family walks and more.

Fast forward to the meeting on Jan. 8, 2013, when the committee began discussing the first phase of the building project, beginning with a possible trailhead near the Ellicottville Community Park, with the hope of breaking ground sometime in 2013 and “a half dozen contractors ready to volunteer.” Currently, the group is setting up meetings with our town engineer, a trail designer, county planner and others who will help create a development, construction and maintenance plan for the new trail, along with dedicated local experts and committee members who are generously volunteering their time and resources. (See information on the inside gatefold to see how you can help.)

On the Slopes

There’s always something going on at Holiday Valley and January offers many ways to enjoy the slopes. January is National Learn a Snowsport Month, so check out the discounted adult Learn-to-Ski or Learn-to-Ride packages (for ages 12 and up) that include equipment rentals, lift tickets and group lessons for all ability levels. Hit the HoliMont slopes with half-price specials all month long.

On Jan. 17 at 9 a.m., the Inspired Media Concepts Demo Tour, conceived by Eric Iberg, filmmaker and founder of Armada skis, and Tanner Hall, Winter X-Games Champion, will hit the slopes. The tour features star athletes Phil “B-Dog” Casabon, Henrik “E-Dollo” Harlaut and Paul “B-Paul” Bergeron of Quebec, who are on their first first-ever road tour of 50 ski areas in 66 days from Maine to South Dakota – all the spread the stoke of skiing. The event is free and no registration is required. Just show up and see how the pros shred.

If you’re a boarder and love a competitive challenge, then the Eastern Snowboard League (ESL) is for you. Since 2010, ESL has organized a series of three boarding events with the overall winner in the Destroyer division receiving the coveted, all-expenses-paid trip to Superpark 17 at Mt. Bachelor, Ore. This year, events will be held at Seven Springs, Mountain Creek and the finals in February at Holiday Valley for the first time. Prizes will be awarded in cash, semi-precious metals and gemstones, dates with the 42/78 Park Crew (no, really) and products from brand sponsors. Dates will be announced soon.

In the Park

Allegany State Park, the third largest state park in the nation, is filled with wintertime spectator and active sporting events. Jan. 26 – 27 brings the Trappers Special Dog Sled Races to the park, where you can watch sled dog teams from all over the country compete on the park’s snow-covered trails. The races begin and end at Camp Turner in the Quaker Area of the park, with the longest race covering about 30 miles of terrain. Teams will start at two-minute intervals beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 26, with the Sprint starting at noon.

Make it a winter camping weekend and rent one of 128 winterized cabins complete with modern conveniences – like heat! Make it your home base for backcountry snowshoeing around the park or cross-country skiing at the Art Roscoe trails. For current conditions, call (716) 945-0523. On Feb. 3, the park will host the Art Roscoe Loppet Classic XC Ski Race at the Trailhead Summit with 6K, 13K and 22K distances.

Bring your winter reels and enjoy a day of ice fishing on Red House and Quaker Lake, or compete in Franklinville’s Ice Fishing Derby Feb. 16–17. Prefer the engine power of a snowmobile? Enjoy over 350 miles of state-funded snowmobile trails and over 91 miles of in-park trails. Call 1-800-331-0543 for a free trail map.

Around the Area

The exciting AMSOIL Championship Snocross Series is coming to Salamanca Feb. 22–24, when crews will turn one million gallons of water into snow over a football-field-sized plot of land near Seneca Allegany Casino & Hotel in Salamanca, N.Y., to create snowmobile tracks with wicked twists, turns and ramps. Over 200 of the top snowmobile racers from North America and worldwide will face off in an action-packed series of competitive racing to be televised nationally by CBS Sports. Weekend events are designed for the whole family.

Watch the highly competitive Traditional Snowsnake Game in Salamanca on Jan. 26–27, when competitors will throw a snowsnake (a 6-foot-long specially prepared wooden stick) as far as they can along a quarter-mile snow track. The event is free to the public and runs each day 11 a.m. to dusk at the Erie Rail Yard on North Main Street across from the Salamanca Rail Museum.

Sporting enthusiasts won’t want to miss the fourth annual Outdoor & Rec Sports Show Jan. 26–27 at the Daniel Carter Events Center, 2383 West Five Mile Rd. Extension in Allegany, N.Y. Show times are 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Sunday. At least 60 of the region’s leading businesses are expected to exhibit their wares and services. Enter the GOACC raffle for a chance to win one of three huge prizes with a combined value of over $2,000.

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