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COMINGANDGOING

Sunday, December 19, 2004; Page P01

ski report

Slippery Local Slopes

To all regional skiers trapped indoors due to unseasonably warm weather: The cold snap has freed you.

• In Virginia: Wintergreen Resort and Massanutten spent the colder days of last week blowing snow for their openings this weekend. Homestead and Bryce, for families and beginners, planned to open yesterday.

• In Maryland: Natural snow began falling at Wisp last weekend, supplementing man-made snow for yesterday's scheduled opening of six to eight of the resort's 22 slopes.

• In West Virginia: The year's first big storm recently hit Snowshoe Mountain, dumping 15 inches. Snowshoe beat all the other regional ski resorts by opening Dec. 3 and currently boasts the most ski-worthy terrain: 35 of 57 trails were slated to be open this weekend. CanaanValley, Timberline and Winterplace were all slated to open by this weekend.

• In Pennsylvania: The five closest resorts -- Whitetail, Liberty Mountain, Ski Roundtop, Blue Knob and Seven Springs -- either opened late last week or were hoping to do so this weekend. New skiers: Mark your calendar for Jan. 6, when many Pennsylvania resorts offer $10 packages for a lesson and two hours of practice.

For the latest in trail conditions, deals and links to regional resorts, check DCSki, www.dcski.com, or Ski Southeast, www.skisoutheast.com.

UPRIGHT AND LOCKED

Murky Skies

Congress brought relief to worried travelers recently by reinstating a rule that requires air carriers to accommodate passengers with tickets on defunct airlines. But how it applies to frequent-flier tickets remains murky.

The loosely worded rule has been a work in progress since it was first passed in the aftermath of 9/11. Its requirement that airlines transport stranded passengers "to the extent practicable" created considerable confusion when two small airlines, Vanguard and National, went belly-up in 2002. Some carriers assessed a $100 administrative fee. Some refused to permit standby travel. The U.S. Department of Transportation tried to clear up the uncertainty by issuing clarifications:


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