Spring Break Guide: Hills, chills and thrills beat fun in the sun for break

For those looking to avoid sunburn, crowded beaches and the dreaded Spring Break at home or school this March, a little trip to a cold, snowy paradise for skiing, snowboarding or other winter sports of choice may be just the ticket (or lift ticket) to a great week away. This March 19-23, pack some warm clothes and head west or north, and leave the winter-baggage baring bikini at home.

While your friends are lifting weights and Ab-Sliding in preparation to bare all on the beach, spend some time researching a great trip. While winter sports may be pricey, deals are out there. With the advent of Web sites such as CheapestDeals.com and CheapTraveling.com, low-cost airfares are available to build your own itinerary. Travel agents also are always there to find the best package deals out there. Some even include lift tickets, an added bonus if you are planning to shred the snow in big-name places like Aspen or Vail.

The first step is selecting a destination. With a veritable a la carte menu of great places, the U.S. snow scene offers yet another Spring Break convenience – no passport needed. The cheapest, easiest way to get out of the city for the week is to hit up any of the mediocre mountains within three hours of D.C. in Pennsylvania or Virginia. Ski Liberty, in the southern part of the Keystone State, is only about two hours away, and WISP resort, in Maryland, is about a three to four hour drive. Paired with low-budget local lodgings, either of these resorts would offer a quick fix for those who are clueless about finding the right mountain.

But spring skiing is best out West. Those who wish to find slopes that actually have natural snow in late March should check out resorts in Colorado or Utah, which can boast as much as a 200-inch base after Easter. Try sister mountains Alta, Brighton and Snowbird, all near 2002 Winter Olympic site Park City, Utah, if you crave fresh powder and challenging terrain.

Different packages are available to ski or ride for multiple days at one or more resorts in the area. Or go for a really swank ski scene at Aspen or Vail, with nearby University of Colorado assuring a good party atmosphere off the slopes. With breathtaking mountain views, fresh air and plenty of adrenaline to go around, these places offer a break from the routine and an alternative to your run-of-the-mill college scenes on Spring Break.

If you’re looking to turn alternative into extreme, head to the Utah Olympic Park and train like an Olympian for rush-inducing sports like bobsled, skeleton and aerial freestyle ski jumping. Whether it’s breath-sucking speeds or dizzying heights you seek, this is the place to find them with the proper guidance of professional trainers. And who knows, you may be the next Jonny Mosely, but never would have known had you not ventured into the thrill-seeking side of Spring Break.

Whatever your mountain or sport of choice, skip the beach this Spring Break and experience more than saving a little on pi?a coladas. And if you feel like you’re missing out on the notorious Spring Break feeding frenzy of all the hot spots (think drunken co-eds going crazy in Cancun), just remember what they say about how Eskimos keep warm amid all that snow.

After a week ensconced in fresh powder and big air, mountain vistas and natural beauty, you’re guaranteed to have the best – whether heroic or injurious – Spring Break tales to tell.

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