Meet the Faces of Ski Season

Behind the ADK Ski Scene

For those who love winter sports, this "snow drought" is starting to make us a little antsy. I feel like a child waiting for Santa, counting down the days until Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, it isn't as easy as simply pinpointing a date and time — but wouldn't that be nice if it was?!

As we continue to gear up for Mother Nature to deliver the snowfall that the Adirondacks are so well known for, I thought I would take a moment to check in with some of our ski season friends. These are the folks behind the scenes at our favorite ski destinations. The ones who have skiing on the brain year-round as they work to make sure when the first big dumping of snow comes the lifts, trails and lodges are primed and ready for us to get out and enjoy some powder days!

Q & A with our ski season friends

If you've spent some time skiing, riding or even snowshoeing in the Southern Adirondacks, odds are you have probably hit the trails of some of these ski centers, and maybe even met some of these friendly faces.

Fern Park Recreation Area

Located within the Town of Inlet, NY, is Fern Park Recreation Area. In the winter Fern Park boasts everything from a skating rink and sledding hill to a robust network of groomed cross-country and snowshoe trails for everyone from beginners to well-seasoned adventure junkies. As we get closer to the start of ski season, who better to start my check-in with than Mitch Lee, Director of Parks and the guy in charge of helping maintain these awesome (and did I say free?) trails. 

Mitch Lee, Town of Inlet Director of Parks

Mitch Lee, Director of Parks - Town of Inlet, NY (photo provided)
Mitch Lee, Director of Parks - Town of Inlet, NY (photo provided)

Q: As winter approaches, what are you most looking forward to?"

A: First and foremost, the first good groomable snow. There is nothing like getting to set the first track with our grooming machine and watching that first flat ribbon of snow pop out behind you.

Q: Is there anything new that skiers (or snowshoers) should expect to find at Fern Park this winter?

A: A lot of work has been done on brushing back the edges of some of our outer loops. We also added some new signage to make it easy for new users this winter as our, (free) trail system is so vast.

Q: What trail or loop are you most looking forward to spending some time on this winter?

A: I ski the Lighted Loop when I am not working, so I guess those nights when I have the park to myself, listening to the owls and the swish of my skis on the crisp nighttime set tracks.

Q: Is there a better section just for snowshoe users?

A: I like to put my shoes on and head straight to Hidden Peak. The view from there is amazing , looking right down the Fulton Chain of Lakes. It makes you feel like you are an eagle, which you could spot regularly from that location.

Oak Mountain Ski Center

As one of the Adirondack's best kept secrets, Oak Mountain Ski Center in Speculator, NY, is home to some awesome alpine action. With 22 trails, a terrain park, tubing hill, full-service rental shop, awesome restaurant and more, Oak is definitely a hometown slope that offers more than you would expect to find, especially after you see how low their rates are!


Owned and operated by the O'Brien family, one thing I've learned over the past season is when you 're skiing or riding at Oak the O'Briens want to make sure you feel like part of this extended ski family. So here's what Matt and Laura — two members of the O'Brien team — have to say as we lean toward winter.

Meet the O'Brien Family
Meet the O'Brien Family

Q: As the 2015-16 season approaches, what are you most looking forward to?

A: We are looking forward to the smiling faces as they load the first chairs of the season. Watching the seasonal kids progress is pretty amazing! And as always, we are excited to see all your familiar faces once again this winter.

Q: Is there anything new that skiers and riders will find this year?

A: First off, we are excited to say that lift tickets on Fridays this year will be only $20. We have also added more seating in the main lodge, and for those who rent we have once again added to our new fleet of Rossignol rental skies and snowboards.

Q: I know you and your team are always up to something when it comes to trail/mountain upgrades. Is there anything new on the slopes?

A: We are excited to say that we have added 4,000 feet of snow-making pipe to Kunjumuck and have done a little TLC to the glades trails again this year.

Chef Lou
Chef Lou

Q: While I have you, I have to ask about your house chef, Lou Petroza. I recall how excited he was this time last year to experience his first ski season in the Adirondacks. So now that he has survived his first real winter, what is he up to as his second ski season approaches?

A: Lou loves to get creative, so he is enjoying the change of the season as he preps the new menu winter menu for both the cafeteria and the Acorn Pub & Eatery, but in addition to his new creations we will still have the favorites such as Thursday Mexican night with $1.29 tacos, Fish Camp Friday, and Saturday's Chinese Specials!

Lapland Lake Nordic Vacation Center

Just about an hour north of Albany, NY, Lapland Lake Nordic Vacation Center has welcomed cross-country skiers for nearly 4 decades.  Boasting a 50 km trail network (38 km of groomed trails for both classic and skate technique and 12 km of ungroomed trails for snowshoeing and backcountry skiing), Lapland Lake is a sweet location for everyone from the beginner to the advanced skier. In addition to the trails, Lapland Lake also has trailside accommodations, dining, a rental shop, lessons and more. What better place to end my pre-season check-in than with Kathy and Paul as they enter their first complete season as owners of Lapland Lake Nordic Vacation Center.

Kathy & Paul Zahray
Kathy & Paul Zahray

Kathy & Paul Zahray

Q: What are you most looking forward to as ski season approaches?" 

A:  Snow! Spending quality time with our extended winter family of loyal customers and staff, and adding some new members to this family. But really, as we move into our first full season as owners and operators of Lapland Lake we are feeling so many emotions — busy, happy, excited, and even a little scared, which is good, I think. Keeps us on our toes! So really we are looking forward to every aspect of this season. It really is exciting!

Q: Is there anything new that skiers will find this year?

A: Yes! Expanded food service menu and hours in the main lodge building, offering light breakfast, soup, and sandwiches seven days a week. In addition, we have added a Kids Skate Club  for ages 8 through 14 to our schedule of kids activities, as well as a new "young adult" season pass to make skiing more affordable for the 18 to 24 age group. There is also lots of new ski and snowshoe equipment for rent.


Viima grazing as she waits patiently for her winter friends
Viima grazing as she waits patiently for her winter friends

While I'm at Lapland Lake, I can't help but check in with Viima, the resident reindeer.

Q: As the resident reindeer, and I guess you could say mascott of Lapland Lake, what are you most excited about?

A: Seeing the action! During the off season I moved to a new home with a red barn near the practice field and main lodge building. While the view out near the lake was nice, I am really excited that I will finally be able to watch all the skiers taking lessons, kids playing broomball in the Reindeer Rally program, and seeing both the start and finish of high school ski races. It's going to be a fun year, that's for sure!

Come Meet Them Yourself!

After checking in with our winter friends, it's good to know that everyone is geared up and ready to fire up the lifts and groomers so the trails are ready for us (not that I ever doubted it!). There is something else I am pretty sure of — this "snow drought" won't last forever! I have a feeling that once the snow starts, we will have a winter forecast full of killer powder days. So whether it is Alpine or Nordic that calls your name, know that if you book a winter ski getaway in the Adirondacks, you will find some friendly faces happily working behind the scenes to make sure it's a ski trip to remember! 

- See you on the trails! 

This week in related Adirondack skiing news:

Take the time to discover Titus. 

Ski or snowshoe right out the door at Dewey.

Apres-ski on the Ausable.

Cross-country along the Coast.

Take to the trails in Tupper.

Snowshoe & ski the slopes in Schroon.

Backcountry in the ‘dacks.