One man who sees a bright future in the local ski industry is Connecticut Avenue lawyer Barry Maloney, who for the past two years has been scouting out acreage for a major new downhill ski resort in Maryland.

"I prefer not to tell the location. I haven't nailed down all the property yet," says Maloney, 39, who in his Georgetown University and George Washington University Law School years operated popular bus trips to Pennsylvania's resorts. "But I'm optimistic it will be done."

It has been several years since a new resort opened in the Washington area, though a number have undergone substantial expansion. To finance the project, he is heading up a group of Washington investors. There are 8 million people in the Washington-Baltimore region, he points out, many of them affluent. "It's a terrific market."

Maloney is aiming at a 200-acre spread and expects the land negotiations may be completed by April. Depending on a number of circumstances, the mountain could be ready for skiers within a year or two, he says.

He anticipates the slopes will have a vertical drop approaching 1,000 feet, equal to many of the larger resorts within a five- to six-hour drive of Washington. The mountain will be geared primarily to intermediate skiers, who he says make up 70 percent of the skiing population, but he wants "at least one advanced novice run from the top." The mountain will rely on snow-making equipment, as do the region's other resorts.

"It's something I always wanted to do," he says. With his long background in the sport, "I think I have a superior knowledge of skiing and what the consumer wants."