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Holiday Valley moved up to second in the Eastern United States and third in the East overall this year in rankings by Ski Magazine.

The Ellicottville resort is placed in the readers' survey behind Mont Tremblant in Quebec and Stowe in Vermont, capping a rapid rise in the rankings. It went from 17 to nine to six from 1999 to 2001.

"It's outstanding, we couldn't be prouder," resort President Dennis Eshbaugh said.

Holiday Valley has overcome the limitations of the size of its mountain by improving things in its control. It scored well in grooming, lifts, service, on-mountain food and dining.

Last year, the resort changed its Tannenbaum lift to a high-speed quad, increasing the popularity of that area. This year, a big chunk of the $3.5 million Holiday Valley spent on improvements went to expand the Tannenbaum Lodge.

There were also improvements made to snowmaking and to glade skiing, with Devils Glen being expanded. The magic carpet was moved from the center to the side of its trail to increase the skiing area for beginners.

Bristol expanding

Bristol Mountain again added snowmaking but it also started putting down infrastructure -- it built its own water supply with its own water treatment plant -- for future expansion.

"We are in an expansion mode; we are in the beginning of another expansion," marketing director Ryan Robbins said.

Bristol added beginner trails and a new lift for the 2002-03 season.

Among the projects resort owner Dan Fuller has made a commitment to are:

more advanced terrain and glade skiing;

a Nordic training center and trails;

a Summit Day Lodge at the top of the hill;

more slope side rental units.

Fuller owns enough land around the resort to allow for substantial expansion, which would require adding lifts, Robbins said.

KB expands beginner area

Kissing Bridge has removed the J-bar on its beginners terrain at its Central area and replaced it with a handle tow that is easier for snowboarders.

The area for beginners has also been doubled, giving newcomers to the sport more room.

Also, two crossover trails have been cut between Mistletoe and Holly. They were designed to eliminate cross-country maneuvers from the bottom of those trails to either the Holly triple or quad chairs.

HV swaps land

Holiday Valley completed a land swap in August with the state. New York got 275 acres that gives it access to the state forest from Route 219 near the Ellicottville School. It is going to build a parking lot to increase recreation opportunities and it has named a road, Eshbaugh said.

The ski resort got two parcels of land totaling 140-plus acres, one near the Tannenbaum trail and another at the top of the Eagle trail. Eshbaugh said Holiday Valley is looking at two water reservoir designs that would create ponds for snowmaking that would be big enough for canoeing and other recreation.

Also under consideration is low density housing development, but that is not in the immediate plans.

Around the slopes

Byrncliff rerouted a couple of trails so they don't cross the golf course, so it had to cut some new trails. It also increased lighting. The cross-country resort will still have 20 kilometers of groomed trails, but will now have 8K of lighted trails, which gives it the most night skiing of any resort in the state. A skiers' open house will run from noon to 5 p.m. Nov. 27-28. Some skis, boots and poles will be sold out of its rental stock because new equipment has been purchased.

The annual Buffalo Nordic Ski Club Cross-Country workshop will be held Dec. 1 from 7:30-9:30 p.m. in the Wick Center at Daemen College on Main Street in Amherst. There will be a video for beginner to advanced skiers, waxing demos and equipment and clothing displays from area stores. The event is free and no reservations are required.

The club provides free lessons to members, conducts weekly ski tours and monthly trips to places such as Allegany State Park.

Cockaigne, in its 40th season, is upgrading its rails and putting out more toys for the kids.