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Climb on board for cancer benefit

Long gone are the days when snowboarders had to fight for acceptance on the slopes. This Saturday, boarders can sharpen their edges for a more selfless battle -- one against breast cancer.

Boarding for Breast Cancer, a youth-focused non-profit aiming to raise awareness and promote early detection, is hosting a board-a-thon Saturday at Holiday Valley in Ellicottville. The event features a women-only terrain park clinic, demos, a rail jam and an after party. For $40, women of any age can register for the clinic, which runs from 10:30 a.m. to noon and will be hosted by female instructors.

"A lot of times in the park, it's intimidating for girls because it's all guys, high-energy and aggressive, so it's not a conducive learning environment for them," said Pat Morgan, the youth connections specialist for Holiday Valley.

From 1 to 3:30 p.m., there will be a rail jam contest open to all snowboarders and skiers, with separate divisions for pros, amateurs and kids. Contest entry is $40 for those not registered for the clinic.

"Many of our competitors are males, but this gives another opportunity for women to come out and be involved," said Blair Young, outreach coordinator for Boarding for Breast Cancer. "Even if you don't want to compete, you can just come out and ride and fund-raise."

Burton will have demo boards available all day.

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While Forbes Magazine listed Buffalo's large snowfall as one of the reasons the Queen City made the list of 10 most miserable places to live, the vast amounts of powder have made life quite enjoyable in ski country.

"Snowfall has been tremendous this year," said Rachel Fanelli, an assistant marketing director at Kissing Bridge. "And the snowmaking conditions have been absolutely outstanding, too."

Kissing Bridge, which opened Nov. 28 and usually stays open for 100 days during a season, hopes to keep the lifts running into late March, if not longer.

"For us, that would be a great season," Fanelli said.

Holiday Valley is on pace to have its best season in terms of snowfall in recent memory.

"I always think I'm going to jinx something if I say it's been a great season," said Jane Eshbaugh, Holiday Valley's director of marketing, "but I can't remember a year that has been this good. We've received 211 inches so far this year [as of Wednesday]."

In 1995-1996, Holiday Valley saw 260 inches of snow fall on its slopes, Eshbaugh said. This November, Holiday Valley had 71 inches of snowfall, followed by 64 more in December and 73 more in January.

Eshbaugh said the vast amounts of snow that came early in the season put Holiday Valley on pace to have its best year in terms of sales, too.

"And it helps for the next season's sales, too," she said.

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