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Officials: Banner year for winter sports tourism

There's still plenty of winter left to go, but officials say it's already been a banner year.

Great snowfall and ideal weather have Whiteface Mountain leading the About.com 2011 Reader's Choice Awards for the favorite ski resort in the eastern United States.

Voting is currently open until March 8 and officials say the winner will be announced March 15.

Other finalists include four Vermont ski resorts - Killington, Mount Snow, Stratton and Stowe.

In December of last year, About.com called Whiteface one of the nation's top family ski destinations - one of just three resorts in the east to make the cut.

Jon Lundin is spokesman for the state Olympic Regional Development Authority. He says all of the venues in the region are benefiting from ideal skiing conditions - that includes Big Tupper, Gore Mountain, Mt. Pisgah and cross-country facilities like Cascade, Mt. Van Hoevenberg and Dewey Mountain.

Lundin says the bad economy last year led to a pent up desire to go on vacation - and drive-to destinations like the Adirondacks benefited.

"The idea was, 'let's spend some money and enjoy ourselves,' because people hadn't done it in the last several years," he said. "The success from the summer certainly carried over to winter - we had fantastic weather over the summer and we've had a fantastic weather for winter. If it's snowing in New Jersey, Philadelphia or Boston, they tend to believe it's snowing up here - so they packed up and came."

When it comes to the accolades being heaped upon Whiteface Mountain, Lundin says it's a tribute to everyone involved, including ski patrol, the people at the ticket counter, the groomers, and more.

"Not only ORDA, but the staff, the volunteers - everyone who comes and enjoys Whiteface Mountain," he said. "We have so much to offer."

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