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Winterfest returns to Seven Springs

| Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, 9:03 p.m.
Jeff Boliba, Burton Snowboard's vice president of global resorts, aids Chloe Elder of Boston, Mass., at the opening of Pirates Riglet Park at Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Somerset County on Friday, Feb. 8, 2013. More photographs of from the event appear on Page 4. Submitted

Iwan Fuchs says most people can only grasp what kinds of skills are required to ski and snowboard with speed and success at Seven Springs Mountain Resort after standing atop Stowe Slope for the very first time.

“To be able to learn, everybody needs to be able to get out of their comfort zone,” said Fuchs, a world-renowned professional skier and director of the Snowsports School at the Somerset County site.

All veteran skiers and snowboarders, as well as any first-timers, will have a reason to attend the 26th annual Winterfest which kicks off Friday and runs through Feb. 23 at the resort in the heart of the Laurel Highlands.

“Winterfest is an annual event celebrating all things snow, and we got 21 inches the last five days,” said Anna Weltz, the resort's spokeswoman. “We want everyone who can to get out into the snow and to participate in a winter sport.”

The event's first weekend figures to be a busy one, Weltz said.

“It's a great weekend for families to get away and ski, snowboard and tube,” she said.

On Friday, visitors can also take part in a two-hour group sporting clays session in a heated, lighted five-stand facility starting at 7 p.m.

All day Saturday and Sunday, the Arbor Face/Off Amatuer Open and Rail Jam will be held at the resort's Terrain Parks area.

The event is highlighted this year by the “Winterfest Learn to Ski or Snowboard Day” from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Snowsports School. Participants will receive a half-off discount to take part in a first-time, all-inclusive, level one ski and snowboard group lesson led by Fuchs.

“As a beginner who has never skied or snowboarded before, we first go over the equipment itself, because it's important for us that the equipment suits the learner and that it's set up right,” Fuchs said. “You wouldn't believe the amount of people who come here with wrong size of boots.”

Every lesson is taught by a professional instructor, many of whom are members of the Professional Ski Instructors of America or the American Association of Snowboard Instructors, according to the resort's website at

After participants are set up, Fuchs said the lessons will be focused on four concepts — balance, edging, rotary skill and pressure.

“We want to make sure the learning environment is equipped for them and that we set them up for the right lesson,” Fuchs said.

Reservations are required to take part in the event.

On Tuesday, visitors can take part in “Tube-A-Palooza!” a four-hour snowtubing session scheduled to start at 6 p.m.

From Tuesday through Feb. 21, the resort will also mark the event by offering the “Winterfest Snowshoeing Adventure,” which offers participants the chance to see the more resort's more scenic spots on foot, Weltz said.

Reservations are also required to take part in the snowshoeing event.

Musical entertainment will be provided during the festival by Chuck Cantalamessa on Friday, Switch on Friday through Sunday, Elyse Branam on Saturday and Feb. 22, the Michael Christopher Band on Feb. 22 and DJ AJ on Feb. 23.

The Torchlight Parade — an annual tradition during Winterfest — will take place beginning at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 22 at Stowe Slope.

During the event, Fuchs will lead approximately 40 instructors from the resort's Snowsports School down the slope while each carries a torch. Under darkened skies, the group of skiers will proceed a choreographed pattern resembling of a slithering serpent before its members morph into the shape of the numeral “7” at the event's finish.

“It's always a spectacular event,” Fuchs said.

For more information or to make reservations, call 800-452-2223.

A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or