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LET IT SNOW

It's time to hit the slopes.

Snowboarders and skiers agree they can't wait to get out and start tearing up the hills.

Many high schools have ski clubs. The cost is around $200, and one out of five ski club members I spoke to had to pay the $200 herself. The price includes a lift ticket, lessons and a bus ride there.

Most clubs go on Friday nights, but not all do. "I'm in Clarence's Ski Club, we go on Saturday nights," said Christine Streich, a Clarence sophomore.

It's great skiing at Holiday Valley on Fridays because everyone seems to go there. I always see friends from my crew team hanging out in the lodge or waiting in line at the lifts. The trouble with going on a busy night is waiting for a chair lift.

"At first it's annoying waiting in the lift lines, but then you get used to it," said Andrea Gioia, a Buffalo Seminary sophomore. The Mardi Gras lift is always the most crowded at Holiday Valley, but once you get away from that, it's fine. At Kissing Bridge, the Holly lift is always packed, but there are plenty of other hills.

For inexperienced skiers, Kissing Bridge is a better bet, but for boarders and bold skiers, Holiday Valley is surely the best place to chill. The wall at Holiday is the steepest hill; it's not even open at night because it's too dangerous.

If you find yourself rolling in the snow a lot, dressing warm is certainly going to be an important factor to consider. Even the best skiers are faced with that stubborn wind chill factor.

"I wear like 40 different layers; wool, sweaters, long underwear, but my friend Lizzy can wear only regular clothes and she's fine for some reason!" said Christine Streich.

Layers are definitely key. Neck warmers and turtlenecks are also good. "My Northface ski suit, hat and gloves prepare me for the elements," said Andrew Childs, a Nichols sophomore.

Three out of 10 polled high school students said they wear mittens rather than gloves when they ski. Hand warmers work well; you can buy them at pretty much any ski store or ski area.

Why do some people choose boarding over skiing?

All skiers I spoke to who have never snowboarded said they'd like to try it sometime, whereas all the snowboarders polled, said that they have skied and won't go back to it anytime soon. "I ski and board and snowboarding is hard to learn and you fall a lot more than you do skiing, but both are a lot of fun," said Andrea Gioia.

"I got bored with skiing and I wanted to try something new. My friend and I both tried snowboarding and the first few times we were very cold from falling," said Melissa Rumschik, a sophomore at Williamsville East.

Snowboarders agree that it's much harder than skiing. "It's difficult at first but if you tough it out it'll get easier," said Alex Bavifard, a Clarence junior.

Then there's skiboarding, a combination of ski and snowboard. Skiboards hook on like skis but are short and wide. "I've been skiing since I was six, and ski boarding looked like a blast so I thought I'd give it a whirl," said Jim Dann, a senior at St. Joe's Collegiate Institute.

For info on ski boarding, check out www.skiboards.com. For all you online junkies, here are some other cool sites: www.skimarket.com, www.burton.com and www.quiksilver.com. The Quiksilver Web site has advice on snowboarding moves including a video with step-by-step instructions.

For all you daredevils, there's something to keep in mind: safety.

Dr. Douglas Armstrong, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, advises skiers to stay on the trails. "The injuries that I see are usually from people who were doing things they shouldn't be," said Armstrong. He says shoulder and knee injuries are the most common injuries for skiers as well as broken thumbs.

With every snowstorm that hits this season you can be assured that many people will be happy about it. "I'm hopeful that it will be the same as last year, if not better," said Alex Bavifard.

Just remember to dress warm, ski safely and have a blast. "I am very stoked for this year's ski season. I can't wait to get out there!" said Jim Dann.

Katie Baynes is a sophomore at Williamsville East High School.