by Paul Maraschiello


I was amazed at what an easy drive I had from the Albany Airport to Lake Placid, New York. It only took me two hours and fifteen minuted to make the trip. Almost all of it was on the Interstate (RT 87) with only a half hour on secondary roads.

My room at the Mirror Lake Inn turned out to be one of the nicer places I have stayed in on my many ski trips. They have 100 rooms and suites. My was spacious and charming with two queen-size beds, sitting area and balcony. There was a wet bar and small fridge in the room and a marble and tile bathroom that was quite elegant. The decor of the Inn was very Adirondack with numerous fireplaces, hunting trophies (bear hears, moose heads, pheasants, etc.) Displayed on the walls which were beautifully paneled in dark wood. They served complementary coffee in the coffee shop every morning. They boast a 60 ft. indoor pool complete with a waterfall, sauna, whirlpool, and state-of-the-art fitness center. The prices begin at $270.00 per room per day during the peek season with elegant single-level and split-level suites going for $470-$495. I have to take a moment and talk about the restaurant. The main dining area is in the large, elegant Averil Cornwell Dining Room. The venison on the menu caught my eye immediately, so I ordered it, along with a salad. This was a delightful choice. The venison steak was the best I have ever had and the spinach and strawberry salad extremely tasty. The meal with wine and desert was somewhat pricey but well worth it. If you are interested in staying at an elegant spa in the Lake Placid area, I highly recommend the Mirror Lake Inn. For reservations call: (518) 523-2544.

The town of Lake Placid is about 15 minutes fro Whiteface Mountain. This mountain was the site for the 1980 Olympics and it is a great mountain. Although there hadn't been a lot of natural snow, There were enough trails open to give me a good workout. Whiteface has a 3,430' vertical, 75 trails on 220 skiable acres. The longest run is 3.5 miles of intermediate terrain and there are 18 miles of trails. 44% of their trails are rated expert, 36% intermediate and 20% novice trails. They have 10 lifts, including an 8-passenger gondola, one high-speed quad, one fixed quad, 5 doubles and one conveyor lift. They have snowmaking on 95% of the mountain to help out mother nature.

After I put on my ski boots in the base lodge, I went outside and was surprised to see a fire burning in an outdoor fireplace on the deck. I rode the gondola to the top and began to explore this mountain. Because I had not been there since I covered the Goodwill Games and my memory of the place was a little fuzzy. I took a warm-up run down Excelsior and it was a little scratchy but very skiable. I was disappointed to find that the Summit Chair wasn't open due to thin snow cover. After a few runs down Excelsior, I tried some of the other runs serviced by the gondola. Northway was in pretty good shape and so was River Run and Lower Gap.

I went in for lunch and enjoyed an interesting Mexican stir-fry that included tasty beef and past with a tomato sauce and sweet peppers.

All the people I met at Whiteface were very friendly. I skied most of the afternoon and bagged it when the light started to get flat and it began to snow. There were no lift lines at the chair lifts and only a modest wait on the gondola, especially if you used the "singles" line.

After a really great dinner, I spent a quiet evening watching TV in my room and resting. Skiing all day had tired me out and I wanted to get a good rest for the next day on the slopes.

They received about three inches of new snow and the trails were in a little better shape than they had been on Saturday. I was psyched and started to venture further afield. After a couple of warm-up runs, I rode up the Little Whiteface Chair and checked out the trails that lift services, I wasn't disappointed. There were some nice bumps and expert terrain there that was really fun. Mountain Run was in good shape and so was Upper and Lower Wilderness. Upper and Lower Mackenzie were challenging. I decided to eat at the restaurant located mid-mountain, Boule's Bistro where I dined on prime rib. It was a little pricey but good.

Skiing the rest of the afternoon, I had a really good time. It's easy to met a few interesting people on the chairlift and gondola rides. The skiers and snowboarders I met were friendly and I enjoyed their company.

On the ride back to the airport, I made a mental note to come back to Whiteface again. It is a really great mountain and easy to get to. The town of Lake Placid has plenty of nice restaurants, shopping and a lively nightlife. With it's close proximity to the Albany airport, I'll be skiing there a lot more.