ELLICOTTVILLE, N.Y. (WKBW) — As a fairly new Western New Yorker, 7 News’ Pheben Kassahun has had her fair share of “firsts” like visiting one of the best places to eat wings in the the region to even attending her first NFL game to watch the Buffalo Bills take on the New England Patriots in December.
No first year in this area is complete without taking on the cultural marvel of skiing.
“This season has been interesting. The weather has panned out to be a great season for snow. We’ve had some great conditions lately. We’re looking forward to continuing that all the way through April,” Holiday Valley ski instructor Bryan Geehrer said.
Geehrer has been a ski instructor for two years. Growing up, he was a ski racer.
He said ski visits have increased during the pandemic, at Holiday Valley. Ski resorts across the state have also seen a 25% increase in new skiers within the last year, according to I Ski NY.
"With COVID happening, all these new skiers are coming out here having fun. We've had a great experience with people and everything. So, business has been well,” he explained.
Elicottville’s Holiday Valley is ranked number two in the East Coast, in Ski Mag’s Ski Resort Guide 2022, mostly due to its ski lifts and dining. With more than 60 trails across 290 acres, the mountain sits at about 750 feet height, which is fairly small compared to other ski resorts.
Wednesday, Kassahun decided to take on the snow sport and channel her inner Shaun White with ski instructor, Bryan.
"Today, what we're going to do is we're going to take you onto our magic carpet. We're going to do a learn to ski lesson. It's a lesson that we do with anyone who is a first-time skier. From there, we'll hopefully get you on the lift and maybe eventually on the bigger hill by the end of the day."
Others were also on their first runs like 4-year-old Noah, who came with his family from Pittsburgh.
"Fun, skiing with Mommy,” Noah exclaimed.
The next thing on his to-do list was warm up with a cup of hot chocolate.
"It's the best feeling seeing the smile on his face and being able to share it with him. I think back to my own first days of skiing and I look forward to sharing it for many years to come,” Noah’s dad, Craig Alpert said.
This was also a major first for Jacky Skubic.
“The last 7 and a half were spent between surgery and recovery and physical therapy and gym time, and surgery and just repeat the cycle,” National ski patroller, Jacky Skubic said. “I took an adaptive lesson and I used outriggers a couple of times during the beginner slope so that I would have additional balance and stability.”
While this was not her first day skiing, it was her first day on the slopes after loser her left leg (below the knee) in a car accident.
"I feel normal. For the first time in 7 and a half years, I'm back on snow. I just feel like myself again because patrolling was a huge part of my life. A huge, worthwhile part of my life,” Skubic said. “After the journey I’ve been on, many things I thought were possible, it was just a way of adapting and trying to find what’s the new thing that’s going to work or how I can go about something differently that enables me to complete a same goal or way that an able bodied person may not think of doing something.”
Holiday Valley’s closing day is set for early April, weather permitting.
Those who are brave are highly encouraged to try out the sport but now without proper lessons before their first go around.
Tips for first time skiers can be found here.