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Illustration: Jo Rivers

Winter Guide 2003

Stickhandling With Mother Nature

We began the game by tossing our sticks into a pile near the center of the makeshift rink. Skaters traced laps around the boundaries, acclimating themselves to the uneven surface of the frozen reservoir and clapping their hands together to keep warm. A friend’s father drifted over to the jumble of sticks and began wordlessly tossing them to one side or the other.

A neighbor explained to me that this was a tradition for hockey games played on that alcove—the oldest player would always divide the pile in half, creating two teams from the group. Years later I would relate this tradition to one of that neighbor’s sons, on the same makeshift hockey rink. That was the way it was done on our alcove, ever since the first time I bundled up and trudged to the game, a pair of borrowed ice skates dangling from my shoulder and some secondhand gloves draped around an old Sherwood hockey stick.

Since that first game, for me, pond hockey has been synonymous with winter. In the years since, I’ve witnessed countless variations on the traditions those impromptu games introduced. In their most fundamental sense though, pond-hockey games have always remained the same, year after year. And the comfort found in that repetition is, in a sense, why I’ve found myself sharpening up my skates whenever winter draws near.

There is always a routine in pond hockey. The time-consuming preparation necessary to create a makeshift rink is as much a part of the game as the contest itself. The four corners of the playing area must be marked off first, and then the boundaries drawn between them. Depending upon the size of the rink, shoveling off the excess snow can be as long a process as the game itself—more so when shovels are left at home. And only after all of this is done—trudging through the snow, preparing the playing area, and strapping on equipment with fingers numbed by exposure—can the game officially begin.

For some, there is a certain stoic beauty in the game. The hard work that precedes the contest, the crisp silence of a winter day broken by the rhythmic sound of an ice skate’s blade as it etches a record of your motion—these are some of the most fundamental elements of the brand of hockey played upon frozen neighborhood watering holes each winter. Pond hockey is a reminder of what the game was like before it became a business, and a nostalgia trip to the sport’s earliest days.

When informal groups of skaters gather on frozen ponds, it is as much an act of rebellion as it is athletic—a stubborn refusal to let nature push us indoors. In hauling heavy bags of equipment through snowdrifts and forest paths, we consciously seek out a cold environment and turn it into our playground. Simply finding the time and energy to trek out to that lonely pond is an achievement, and it is one that can be shared by everyone who makes the journey, from rugged old-timers to pink-faced children and pampered suburbanites.

The inherent level of disorganization in pond hockey gives the entire affair a particularly Norman Rockwell flavor. Games are played until the rosters dwindle past the point of sustaining a worthwhile competition, often leaving the last few skaters runny-nosed, red-cheeked and reluctant to call the game to a close. There are few satisfactions in the world comparable to a warm room after a day spent on the ice—and in this case, the comfort becomes something earned, and as such, appreciated all the more.

Without a doubt, I’ll be plodding through the snow again this winter, a bulky equipment bag slung over one shoulder, and my trusty Sherwood propped on the other. Certain aspects of the game may have changed through the years—the empty cardboard-box goals have been replaced by expensive, regulation-sized hockey nets—but in its most important elements, it is still the same game I played more than a decade ago. Like a sting in the wind that signals the beginning of a new pond-hockey season, that familiar pile of hockey sticks begins every game. And I’m quite certain that it always will.

—Rick Marshall

Freeze Tag

I’ve been aware of that curious sport of cold-water swimming for some time. My thoughts on the subject have changed as have my experiences, but my first encounter with winter bathers is burned in my memory.

It was my first time traveling across the Atlantic, and I spent three wonderful January weeks traversing Ireland. An evening in a crowded disco the size of a Las Vegas casino gave me my first peek into the inevitable cultural differences I would encounter. As I was there in 1989, it was far too soon for this ill-fated genre to make a popular comeback (as it since has—appropriately timed), so what goes on in Tralee, I wondered, that would render disco desirable?

I took an early walk along a (I’m guessing here) Galway beach mulling it over when I came upon my second doe-eyed-vacationer moment. The beach was filled with swimmers, on the sand and in the sea. They were all in bathing suits, splashing and lolling around like it was a dog-day afternoon. Oh, the things I have yet to discover about the Irish are many, I mused.

I have since learned that this was not an Irish Wonder of the World, nor only an ancient Finnish tradition that followed a sauna (my brother lived in Helsinki and spun yarns of the butt-naked ice-swimming that was prevalent there), but paddling around in water a third one’s body temperature is popular wherever water freezes—and most common on New Year’s Day. (Some metric-system citizens joyously report that by beginning the new year at zero—degrees Celsius—there’s nowhere to go but up. Others claim that the cold-water shock repels evil spirits that would otherwise wreak future havoc.)

Others claim that a heart-stoppingly cold dip is healthy—and proponents of this theory brag that they’re rarely, if ever, sick. Many overseas organizations (based mainly in Russia or Finland) conduct ice-bathing research to discover its possible health benefits, as well as to provide training and emergency tactics for people who are liable to accidentally end up in frigid waters—or help those who do. “Our results will help to save the lives of thousands and thousands of people,” claims the Web site for the Moscow Regional Centre of Human Adaptation in Extremal Conditions of Water Immersion (a roughly translated site, it seems).

So while many blue-lipped backstrokers form clubs such as the Polar Bear Club, and others form research communities, no one, it seems, goes it alone.

“You gotta make a whole day of it,” onetime ice-swimmer Kyle Chick says, voicing a unanimous sentiment among those who live to tell the tale. Without the enthusiastic spectators and the celebratory atmosphere, the adrenaline rush—a universal motivation—similarly experienced during skydiving and bungee jumping, just ain’t worth it. “You can’t just go by yourself and jump into a lake,” Chick emphasizes.

Two years ago, Chick decided to brave the icy waters of Lake George for a New Year’s Day swim. He did so out of peer pressure mostly—“so many people talk about doing it,” he admits—and to put an end to one friend’s constant yammering about Chick’s compromised manhood so long as he remained plungeless. “It’s a rite of passage,” Chick says.

Steering clear of the manhood principle, Chick has warm feelings about his chilling experience. “Before jumping in you’re thinking, ‘I hope I don’t lose my breath and drown,’ he admits. “But once you hit the water your instincts take over and you head for the shore.”

Chick recommends a bit of training prior to the swim, though he had none. “Running around outside in your underwear” will acclimate one to colder temperatures and remove the dread of becoming a human Popsicle once you hit the water—which Chick admits he feared.

“It’s one of those things that makes you feel human, feel alive,” Chick says about the experience. (His chest must have heaved along with his heartbeat in a unique manner). Along those lines, participants feel as though they’re cheating death in some way—having momentary power over that which cannot be controlled. It’s like eating puffer fish in a sushi place: It may kill you if it’s cut wrong. Who doesn’t know that hypothermia can kill you? Stay in a few seconds too long, and you’ve crossed that line between clever and stupid.

Stay alive and you win. Your prize: feeling alive. It’s all relative.

I have a distinct feeling that Chick tempts fate daily—“I’m into electrocution,” he reveals, and his job as an electrician offers him myriad opportunities for such—but he still gained some thank-God-I’m-alive-and-speaking-of-God-he’s-a- mysterious-and-wonderful-force perspective on that winter’s day of 2000. But the outcome wasn’t completely rosy, Chick says. “I look back on it and get really upset that I didn’t get a T-shirt.”

—Kate Sipher

Ski/Snowboard Centers

Alpine

Massachusetts

Brodie Mountain, New Ashford. (413) 738-5500. There is no skiing or snowboarding for the 2003-2004 season. There will only be snowtubing. Snow phone (413) 443-4751. www.skibrodie.com.

Bousquet Ski Area, Pittsfield. (413) 442-8316. Vertical drop 750 ft. 21 trails, 5 lifts, snowboard park. Ski/snowboard/snowblade rentals available. Adult lift ticket: $25 weekday and weekends. Snow phone (413) 442-2436. www.bousquets.com.

Jiminy Peak, Hancock. (413) 738-5500. Vertical drop 1,150 ft. 40 trails, 8 lifts, snowboard terrain park with half-pipe. Ski/snowboard rentals available. Adult lift ticket: $39 midweek, $52 weekend/ holiday. Snow phone 888-4-JIMINY (454-6469). www.jiminypeak.com.

Ski Butternut, Great Barrington. (413) 528-2000. Vertical drop 1,000 ft. 22 trails, 10 lifts. Ski/snowboard/ski-board/snowblade rentals available. Adult lift ticket: $32 midweek, $45 weekend/holiday. Snow report (800) 438-SNOW. www.skibutternut.com.

New York

Belleayre Mountain, Highmount. (845) 254-5600. Vertical drop 1,404 ft. 38 trails, 8 lifts, snowboard park. Ski/snowboard rentals available. Adult lift ticket: $33 midweek, $42 weekend/holiday. Snow phone (800) 942-6904. www.belleayre.com.

Catamount, Hillsdale, 325-3200. Vertical drop 1,000 ft. 29 trails, 8 lifts, snowboard park. Ski/snowboard/snowblade rentals available. Adult lift ticket: $30 midweek, $45 weekend/holiday. Snow conditions (800) 342-1840. www.catamountski.com.

Gore Mountain, North Creek. 251-2411. Vertical drop 2,100 ft. 79 trails, 11 lifts, snowboard park, half-pipe. Ski/snowboard/snowblade/snowshoe rentals available. Adult lift ticket: $47 midweek, $56 weekends. Snow conditions (800) 342-1234. www.goremountain.com.

Hunter Mountain, Hunter. 263-4223. Vertical drop 1,600 ft. 53 trails, 11 lifts, terrain park. Ski/snowboard/helmet rentals available. Adult lift ticket: $41 midweek, $51 weekend/holiday. Snow conditions (800) HunterMtn. www.huntermtn.com.

West Mountain, Glens Falls. 793-6606. Vertical drop 1,010 ft. 22 trails, 6 lifts. Ski/snowboard rentals available. Adult lift ticket: $30 midweek, $40 weekend/holiday. www.skiwestmountain.com.

Whiteface Mountain, Wilmington. 946-2223. Vertical drop 3,430 ft. 72 trails, 11 lifts, snowboard park, half-pipe. Ski rentals/snowboard rentals available. Lift ticket prices not available at press time. Snow conditions (800) 462-6236. www.whiteface.com.

Willard Mountain, Greenwich. 692-7337. Vertical drop 505 ft. 14 trails, 5 lifts. Ski/snowboard rentals available. Adult lift ticket: $20 midweek, $27 weekend. Snow conditions (800) 457-SNOW. www.willardmountain.com.

Windham Mountain, Windham. 734-4300. Vertical drop 1,600 ft. 39 trails, 7 lifts, snowboard park, tubing park and terrain trails. Ski/snowboard/snowshoe rentals available. Adult lift ticket: $40 midweek, $50 weekend/holiday. Snow info (800) SAY-4SNO. www.skiwindham.com.

Vermont

Bromley, Peru. (802) 824-5522. Vertical drop 1,334 ft. 43 trails, 10 lifts, snowboard parks, half-pipe. Ski/snowboard rentals available. Adult lift ticket: $46 midweek, $54 weekend. Snow report (802) 824-5522.

Haystack Mountain, Wilmington. (800) 245-SNOW (7669). Vertical drop 1,400 ft. 44 trails, 7 lifts. Ski/snowboard rentals available. Adult lift ticket: $45. Snow report (802) 464-2151.

Killington Ski Area, Killington. (800) 621-MTNS or (802) 422-6200. Vertical drop 3,050 ft. 200 trails, 32 lifts, snowboard park, half-pipe. Ski/snowboard/ski-board rentals available. Lift ticket prices not available at press time. Snow report (802) 422-3261. www.killington.com.

Mount Snow, West Dover. (800) 245-SNOW (7669). Vertical drop 1,700 ft. 130 trails, 23 lifts, snowboard park and 2 half-pipes. Ski/snowboard rentals available. Adult lift ticket: $57 midweek, $64 weekend/holiday. Snow report (802) 464-2151. www.mountsnow.com.

Okemo, Ludlow. (802) 228-4041. Vertical drop 2,200 ft. 113 trails, 18 lifts, 5 terrain parks, 2 half-pipes. Ski/snowboard/snowblade/snowshoe/helmet rentals available. Lift ticket rates change daily. Snow phone (802) 228-5222. www.okemo.com.

Stratton, Bondville. (800) STRATTON (787-2886). Vertical drop 2,003 ft. 90 trails, 16 lifts, snowboard parks, half-pipe. Ski/snowboard/snowblade/helmet rentals available. Adult lift ticket: $59 midweek, $72 weekend/holiday. Snow report (802) 297-4211. www.stratton.com.

Sugarbush, Warren. (800) 53-SUGAR (537-8427). Vertical drop 2,650 ft. 115 trails, 18 lifts, snowboard park, half-pipe. Ski/snowboard/snowblade rentals available. Adult lift ticket: $48 midweek; $59 weekend, $61 holiday. Snow phone (802) 583-SNOW. www.sugarbush.com.

Cross-Country

All are located in New York state; telephone area codes 518 unless otherwise noted.

Adirondack Park Visitors Center, Paul Smith’s. 327-3000. 17 km. No trail fee; no rentals. (Snowshoe trails also). Building open 9 AM-5 PM daily except Christmas and Thanksgiving; trails accessible anytime.

Adirondack Loj, Lake Placid. 523-3441. More than 20 km of wilderness trails (not groomed). Rentals available at the High Peaks Information Center. No trail fee. (Snowshoe trails also; snowshoe rentals available.) Open daily. $9 parking for nonmembers for full day; $3.50 after 1 PM.

Cascade Ski Touring Center, Lake Placid. 523-9605. 20 km tracked. Rentals available. Trail fee $8, $4 children, $6 evenings. Lessons available. Open daily. Full-moon parties. Ski shop, Bar and restaurant. (Snowshoe trails also; snowshoe rentals available.)

Cunningham’s Ski Barn, North Creek. 251-3215. 40 km (25 km tracked; 15 km wilderness) Rentals available. Trail fee $14, 18 and under $12. (Snowshoe trails also, snowshoe rentals available.) Open daily 8 AM-6 PM.

Friends Lake Inn, Chestertown. 494-4751. 20 km groomed wilderness trails (snowshoe trails also), Tubbs demo rentals available. Trail fee $10. Open Sat-Sun, and special holiday weeks.

Five Rivers Environmental Center, Game Farm Road, Delmar. 475-0291. 10 km. No trail fee. No ski rentals. (Snowshoeing areas also; snowshoe rentals available afternoons and weekends). Trails open daily, visitors center open Mon-Sat 9 AM-4:30 PM, Sun 1:30-4:30 PM, closed holidays.

Garnet Hill, North River. 251-2821. 55 km groomed and tracked trails. Rentals available. (Snowshoe trails also; snowshoe rentals available.) Trail fee $14. Lessons available. Retail shop. Open daily, 8 AM till dusk. Lodge open till 9 PM. www.garnet-hill.com.

Gore Mountain, North Creek. 251-2411. 24 km tracked. (Snowshoe trails also.) Rentals available. Trail fee $8. Lessons available with reservations. Open daily.

Lapland Lake Cross-Country Ski Center, Benson. 863-4974. 50 km (38 km track set and skating lanes, 12 km dedicated to snowshoeing). Rentals available. (Snowshoe rentals also.) Trail fee $11 weekdays; $14 weekends/holidays; junior/senior discounts available. Lessons daily. Open Sun-Fri 9 AM-4:30 PM; open 9 AM-9 PM Sat evenings.

McCauley Mountain, Old Forge. (315) 369-3225. 10 km groomed/tracked, 10 km back-country. Rentals available in town. Lessons available. (Snowshoe trails also, snowshoe rentals available in town.) Trail fee $6. Closed Tuesdays, except holiday during holiday weeks. 369-6983.

Mount Van Hovenberg, Lake Placid. 523-2811. 50 km tracked. Rentals available. (Snowshoe trails also; snowshoe rentals available.) Trail fee $12, half-day and children’s discounts. Lessons available. Open daily.

The New Course at Albany, 56 O’Neil Road, Albany, 438-2208. No trail fee. No rentals. Open daily.

Oak Hill Farms, Esperance. 875-6700. 30 km groomed. Rentals available. Trail fee $9 weekends, $7 weekdays; junior discounts available. Lessons available on weekends by appointment. Open daily.

Pineridge, East Poestenkill. 283-3652. 35 km groomed/tracked, 15 km ungroomed for snowshoeing and skiing. Rentals available. (Snowshoe trails also, snowshoe rentals available.) Trail fee $12. Open daily; night skiing available by prior arrangement, when a group is scheduled to ski, or in the case of really good snow. Call ahead to find out if night skiing will be available on a particular night.

Saratoga Spa State Park, off Route 9, Saratoga Springs. 584-2535. 7 km No trail fee. Open daily dawn to dusk. (Snowshoe trails also.) No rentals.

Tree Haven Trails, West Galway. 882-9455. 43 km. groomed/tracked. Rentals available. Trail fee $4 weekdays, $5 nights, $8 weekends/holidays, $5 for kids. Open daily (open at noon Mon-Fri; open 9-5 weekends; night skiing 5:30-9:30 PM Tue, Thu-Sat).

Ice Skating

Indoor Rinks

Note: At some rinks, public skating occasionally is preempted by special events. Rinks typically post schedule changes monthly.

Albany County Hockey Facility, 830 Albany Shaker Road, Colonie. 452-7396. Public skating Mon-Fri noon-2 PM; Sat-Sun 2-3:45 PM. Adult skate Tue, Thu 11-noon. Open hockey Wed, Fri 10-11:30 AM. Admission $3; seniors $2; children under 5 $1. Rentals $3.

The B.I.G. Arena, 900 Delaware Ave., Delmar, 439-2211. Public skating Mon noon-3:50; Tue 3-4:20; Wed noon-2:50; Fri 1-3:50, 7:30-9:20; Sat 1-3:50, 8:9:20; Sun 3:30-5:20 PM. $4; $3 ages 6-12; $2 age 5 and under/seniors. Rentals $3.

Boys & Girls Club of Pittsfield, 16 Melville St., Pittsfield, Mass. (413) 448-8258. Public skating Sat-Sun 2-3:45 PM. Admission adults $4 nonmembers, $3 nonmember kids, $1 members. Rentals $2.

Clifton Park Arena, 16 Clifton Commons Blvd., Clifton Park. 383-5440. Public skating Mon-Fri, noon-2 PM; Sat 1:30-3:30, Sun 2-4 PM. Admission $3 during week; $4 weekend, $3 kids. Open hockey Sat $10. Rentals $2.

Frear Park, 2701 Lavin Court, Troy, 266-0023. Public skating Tue, Wed and Fri 2-3:20 PM. Free. No skate rental.

Houston Field House, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1900 Peoples Ave., Troy. 276-6262. Public skating Mon-Wed 11:30 AM-1 PM. Admission $3 adults, $2 children/seniors. RPI students free with ID. No rentals.

Knickerbacker Ice Facility, 183 Eighth Ave., North Troy. 235-7761. Public skating schedule is subject to change and posted weekly, call for times. Admission $3 adults ($2 lunch hour), $2 children, $1 seniors. Rentals $3.

Robert M. Conway Jr. Ice Arena, Hudson Valley Community College, 80 Vandenburgh Ave., Troy. 629-4829. Public skating Mon-Fri noon-2 PM; Sat-Sun 4-6:15 PM. Call for additional hours during holidays. Admission: $3 adults, $2 children/seniors/alumni. Students with current ID free. Group discounts available. Rentals $3.

Weibel Avenue Ice Rink, Weibel Avenue, Saratoga Springs. 583-3462. Public skating hours vary throughout the season; please call for times. Admission $4 adults, $3 seniors/children 13 and under; $3 member adults, $2 member seniors/children 13 and under. Rentals $4.

Outdoor Ice

Ann Lee Pond, Adjacent to the Albany County Airport, Colonie. 783-2760

Beldon’s Pond, Near the junction of routes 2 and 66, Troy.

Bethlehem rinks, 261 Elm Ave. 439-4131.

Buckingham (“Rafts”) Pond, Berkshire Boulevard between Western and New Scotland avenues, Albany.

Central Park, off State street, Schenectady. 382-5152. Skating when Iroquois Lake is frozen to a depth of 12 inches. Call for times. Free.

Collins Park, Schenectady. 382-5152.

Colonie rinks, 783-2760. 12 tennis-court rinks, call for location nearest you.

East Greenbush rinks, 477-4194.

Empire State Plaza, Albany, 474-8860. Free public skating on the plaza rink beginning December; schedule to be announced. No skate rental.

Lapland Lake, Northville. 863-4974. Admission to the 280-acre winter-sports facility is $14 adults ($11 non-holiday midweek); $7 juniors, $9 seniors (non-holiday midweek). Kids under 6 free. Age 75 and up are free on Mon-Fri (non-holiday). Ice skating rentals $5. Snowshoe rentals available.

Rotterdam rink, Fort Hunter Park. Free. 355-7450.

Saratoga Spa State Park, off Route 9, Saratoga Springs. 584-2000. Two rinks. Free. Open 8 AM-midnight.

Swinburne Skating Rink Clinton Avenue (next to Bleeker Stadium), Albany. Call for skating prices, times and hours. $1 adults, 50 cents under 18, 25 cents seniors. $2 skate rental. 438-2406

Washington Park Lake, Washington Park, Albany. Skating daily when lake is frozen to a safe depth. Free.

Winter Events

Please note: This is not a complete listing of all winter events. Check Metroland’s calendar of events for weekly updates and be sure to check with your favorite mountain for an updated list.

Nov. 15-Dec. 31: 19th Annual Festival of Trees. The Berkshire Museum, 39 South St., Pittsfield, Mass. A forest of beautifully decorated trees and arrangements set amid the art of the museum’s galleries. Open Mon-Sat 10 AM-5 PM; Sun noon-5 PM. (413) 443-7171.

Nov. 15-Dec. 21: Annual Holiday Craft Sale. Spencertown Academy, Route 203, Spencertown. Opening reception, Nov. 15, 4-6 PM. 392-3693.

Nov. 21-23: Annual Ski and Snowboard Swap and Sale. Okemo, Ludlow, Vt. Three-day sale featuring some incredible bargains on new and pre-owned ski and snowboard equipment, clothing and more. (802) 226-8092.

Nov. 22: 43rd Annual Winter Sports Sale. Burnt Hills United Methodist Church, 816 Saratoga Road, Burnt Hills. 9 AM-noon. 399-5144.

Nov. 22-Dec. 11: Festival of Trees. Bennington Museum, West Main Street, Bennington, Vt. Community celebration featuring more than 80 holiday trees, wreaths and other seasonal decorations. Daily 9 AM-5 PM. Free with museum admission. (802) 447-1571.

Nov. 22-Jan. 9: Holiday Shopping Showcase. LARAC, Lapham Gallery, 7 Lapham Place, Glens Falls. 50 artists and artisans offering unique, handcrafted items. 798-1144.

Nov. 23: Albany Berkshire Ballet presents The Nutcracker. Consolati Performing Arts Center, Mount Everett Street, Sheffield, Mass. 1:30 and 4:30 PM. Call for prices. (413) 445-5382.

Nov. 26-30: Annual Holiday Showcase. Proctor’s Theatre, 432 State St., Schenectady. Featuring more than 60 trees each decorated for the season, live music and refreshments available in the Holiday Café. Closed Thanksgiving. 346-6204.

Nov. 29: 33rd Annual Christmas Parade. Schenectady. www.schenectadychamber.org.

Nov. 28-30: Stratton Mountain School Ski Sale. Stratton Mountain, Bondville, Vt. Fri 6-9 PM, Sat 9 AM-4 PM, Sun 9 AM-3 PM. (800) STRATTON (787-2886).

Nov. 26-30: Festival of Trees 2003. Albany Institute of History and Art, 125 Washington Ave., Albany. The 20th year for the annual kick-off to the Capital Region’s holiday season. Wed 10 AM-5 PM; Fri-Sat, 10 AM-8 PM; Sun, noon-5 PM. 463-4478.

Nov. 24-Dec. 31: Sixth Annual Capital Holiday Lights in the Park. Washington Park, Albany. More than 50 illuminated displays and screens. Opens at 6 PM. Lakehouse open most evenings. $10 per car, $15 per limo or 15-passenger van, $50 per bus. Sun-Thu 6-9 PM; Fri-Sat, 6-10 PM. 446-4000.

Nov. 29: Holiday Jumbo Fireworks and Torchlight Extravaganza. Mount Snow, West Dover, Vt. Annual nighttime show which officially kicks off the Mount Snow Valley’s “Nights Before Christmas” celebration. (800) 245-SNOW (7669).

Nov. 29: Lapland Lake Cross Country Ski and Vacation Center Annual Open House. 139 Lapland Road, Northville. The new season opens with an open house featuring a pre-holiday sale of ski and snowshoe equipment, ski packages, clothing and winter accessories. 863-4974.

Nov. 29: Stars on Ice. Olympic Center, Lake Placid. Features Scott Hamilton, Oksana Baiul, and others. 8 PM. Tickets start at $25. 523-3330.

Dec. 1: Nebraska Theatre Caravan presents A Christmas Carol. Proctor’s Theatre, 432 State St., Schenectady. The musical version of Dickens’ classic. 7 PM. $29.50, $25.50, $19.50. 346-6204.

Dec. 1-5: The Jim Cardenali Ski Camp. Stratton Mountain, Bondville, Vt. Three- and five-day camps designed to develop and improve skiing and racing skills. $100 per day. (800) STRATTON (787-2886).

Dec. 2-4: Albany Berkshire Ballet presents The Nutcracker. Boland Theatre, Berkshire Community College, Pittsfield, Mass. Tue-Wed 7:30 PM, Wed also at 11 AM, Thu also at 4:30 PM. Call for prices. (413) 445-5382.

Dec. 4-7: 47th Annual Holiday Greens Show. Hart-Cluett House, Second Street, Troy. This year’s theme is Twas the Night Before Christmas, and the decorations will be inspired by Clement Clarke Moore’s story. Open noon until 5 PM daily; $5, $4 seniors and children 5 and older, children under 5 free. 272-7232.

Dec. 5: Candlelight House Tour. Saratoga Springs. Tour festively decorated private homes in the city of Saratoga Springs, followed by a reception at the Canfield Casino. Tour, 5:30-9 PM; reception, 7:30-10:30 PM. $40-$50; put on by members of Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation. 587-5030.

Dec. 5-7: 14th Annual Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas. Full range of activities including a holiday performances, exhibits and events. Commemorative button, $4; admission for different performances varies. (413) 298-5200 or www.stockbridgechamber.org/christmas.html

Dec. 5-19: Holiday Candlelight Tours. Clermont State Historic Site, 1 Clermont Ave., Germantown. The Livingston mansion will be decorated for the holidays. Admission charged. 537-4240.

Dec. 6: Winter Walk on Warren Street. Warren Street, Hudson. Performances in shops, strolling carolers and more. 5-8 PM. 822-1438.

Dec. 6: Norman Rockwell Museum Open House. Norman Rockwell Museum, Route 183, Stockbridge, Mass. Come celebrate the season with an evening of treats for all the senses., 4-7 PM. $4, free for children and members.

Dec. 7: Sugar Plum Day. Bennington Museum, W. Main Street, Bennington, Vt. Annual children’s holiday event. (802) 447-1571.

Dec. 6-7: Holiday Walk Weekend 2002. Downtown Williamstown, Mass. Two days of holiday events beginning with a parade on Spring Street at 3:30 PM. (413) 458-9077.

Dec. 6-7: Northeast Ballet’s The Nutcracker. Proctor’s Theatre, 432 State St., Schenectady. Sat 2 PM, 7 PM; Sun 2 PM. $27.50, $22.50. 346-6204.

Dec. 6: Ten Broeck Mansion Holiday House Viewing Days. See the mansion fully decorated for the holidays and an appearance by Santa Claus. 10 AM-4 PM. 436-9826.

Dec. 6-14: Festival of Trees. Old Stone Fort Museum, 145 Fort Road, Schoharie. 295-7192.

Dec. 6-14: Gallery of Wreaths and Holiday Craft Boutique. Columbia County Museum, 5 Albany Ave., Kinderhook. Silent auction of wreaths made by local artisans and civic organizations and hand-made crafts for the holidays. Mon-Sat 10 AM-4 PM; Sun noon-4 PM. 758-9265.

Dec. 7: 15th Annual Breakfast with Santa. Junior Museum, Eighth Street, Troy. A hands-on craft, musical entertainment and a Victorian display from the museum’s collection are highlights of this annual event which kicks off the Victorian Stroll. Santa Claus will be on hand for the buffet breakfast along with his live reindeer. $15, $10 children advance; $18, $13 door. 9-11:30 AM. 235-2120.

Dec. 7: 20th Annual Troy Victorian Stroll. Downtown Troy. Annual tradition which transforms the historic streets of downtown Troy into a magical stage of song, dance and family enjoyment with more than 100 attractions including musicians, dancers, magicians, storytellers, crafters, riders and refreshments. Noon-5 PM. www.troyvictorianstroll.com.

Dec. 11: Festival of Trees Grand Finale Gala. Bennington Museum, W. Main Street, Bennington, Vt. The conclusion of the festival featuring a silent auction of trees and wreaths, as well as the Ultimate Gift Givers silent auction with gift packages. Hors d’oeuvres and libations in a holiday wonderland setting. $25. 5-8:30 PM. (802) 447-1571

Dec. 12: Chicago City Limits in Revenge of the Reindeer. The Egg, Empire State Plaza, Albany. 8 PM. $24. 473-1061.

Dec. 12: Candlelight Night in the Village of Kinderhook. Kinderhook. Businesses open with refreshments, music, wagon rides and a visit from Santa. 6-8:30 PM. 758-9265.

Dec. 12-14: Greens Show at the James Vanderpoel House. Route 9, Kinderhook. View the house decorated for the holidays by local garden clubs. Fri noon-8:30 PM, Sat 10 AM-4 PM, Sun noon-4 PM. 758-9265.

Dec. 13: 26th Annual Reindeer Roundup Pursuit Race. Lapland Lake Cross Country Ski and Vacation Center, 139 Lapland Road, Northville. 10 AM: 5 km classic technique followed by a 5 km freestyle technique at 1 PM. The event is an Empire State Winter Games qualifier. 843-4974.

Dec. 11: Simply Christmas. Pepsi Arena, 51 S. Pearl St., Albany. Holiday spectacular with Amy Grant and Vince Gill. 7:30 PM. $76, $51, $41, $25.50. 476-1000.

Dec. 21: Poland Spring Winterfest. Hunter Mountain, Hunter. Product samplings, giveaways and interactive games. 263-4223.

Dec. 21: Albany Berkshire Ballet presents The Nutcracker. The Egg, Empire State Plaza, Albany. 4 and 7:30 PM. $17-$30. 473-1845 or 426-0660.

Dec. 22: Poland Springs Winterfest. Windham Mountain, Windham. Product samplings, giveaways and interactive games. (800) SKI-WINDHAM.

Dec. 24: Santa Is Coming to Valatie. Village Square, Valatie. A party and parade for Santa Claus. 2 PM. 758-1656.

Dec. 27: Holiday Jumbo Fireworks and Torchlight Extravaganza. Mount Snow, West Dover, Vt. (800) 245-SNOW (7669).

Dec. 28: Torchlight Parade and Fireworks Display. Okemo, Ludlow, Vt. A spectacular display of dancing lights and fireworks. 7:30 PM. (802) 228-4041.

Dec. 31: First Night Albany. Features performances in beautiful indoor venues in downtown Albany and the Last Run 5K Road Race. Events 3 PM-midnight. Buttons go on sale Dec. 1. 434-2032. www.albanyevents.org.

Dec. 31: First Night Saratoga. Features performances in indoor venues in downtown Saratoga and the annual First Night Saratoga 5K Run. Buttons go on sale Dec. 1; $10, $12 after Dec. 24. 594-8262. www.firstnightsaratoga.org.

Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve Gala Snowball. Hunter Mountain, Hunter. Torchlight parade and fireworks. 263-4223.

Jan. 10: BLADES Monster Park Battle. Hunter Mountain, Hunter. Annual snowboarding competition including halfpipe and big air contests. 263 4223.

Jan. 11: Poland Spring Winterfest 2003. Okemo, Ludlow, Vt. Product samplings, giveaways and interactive games. (802) 228-4041.

Jan. 17: Fireworks Display. Okemo, Ludlow, Vt. A spectacular display of dancing lights and fireworks. 7:30 PM. (802) 228-4041.

Feb. 8: Battle for the Berkshires—Boardercross and Skiercross. Ski Butternut, Route 23, State Road, Great Barrington, Mass. (413) 528-2000.

Feb. 14: February Festival. Bromley, Peru, Vt. A presidents’ weekend celebration featuring fireworks, torchlight parade, live music, dancing, dessert tasting and more. (802) 824-5522.

Feb. 14: Torchlight Parade and Fireworks. Hunter Mountain, Hunter. Featuring a nighttime big air contest and a Burton SnowSkate Jam. 263 4223.

Feb. 14-20: Snickers Snowfest Week. Okemo, Ludlow, Vt. Presidents’ week celebration featuring Snickers and M&M/Mars candy. (802) 228-4041.

Feb. 15: Torchlight Parade and Fireworks Display. Okemo, Ludlow, Vt. A spectacular display of dancing lights and fireworks. 7:30 PM. (802) 228-4041.

Feb. 15-16: Budweiser All-Star Aerial Show. Mount Snow, West Dover, Vt. Big air exhibitions featuring top pro ski and snowboard aerialists. Fireworks on Sat. (800) 245-SNOW (7669).

Feb. 21: Mega Mother Hucker. Mount Snow, West Dover, Vt. Big air competition featuring the top skiers and snowboarders on the East Coast. (800) 245-SNOW (7669).

March 6-7: Annual Anti-Gravity Grail. Mount Snow, West Dover, Vt. The first freeskiing event in the East features skiers and snowboarders competing in halfpipe, ridercross and big air competitions. (800) 245-SNOW (7669).

March 8-9: Budweiser All-Star Aerial Show. Killington Resort, 4763 Killington Road, Killington, Vt. (802) 422-1700.

March 10-16: US Open Snowboarding Championships. Stratton Mountain, Bondville, Vt. The sport’s oldest and biggest contest draws the world’s best athletes. (800) STRATTON (787-2886).

March 12: Stars on Ice. Pepsi Arena, 51 S. Pearl St., Albany. Features Olympic medallists Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, Kurt Browning, Todd Eldredge and others. 7 PM. $56, $46, $26. 476-1000.


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