THE BEST cross-country skiing of the year is to be had this weekend at the resorts in West Virginia.
"Everything's open, everything's skiable," says Chip Chase of White Grass Touring Center in Canaan Valley, West Virginia.
The cross-country resorts, unable to make snow on their many kilometers of trails, suffered from the mild temperatures and rains this winter. But recent snow and frigid weather have combined to create the best cross-country conditions of the season.
Hidden Valley's Winterfest '88 continues this weekend with ski races, ice sculpture contests, a rock 'n' roll dance and a torch-light parade Saturday night.
Hidden Valley will slash its lift-ticket prices by half in March. Day and night lift tickets will be $4.75, weekend tickets will be $8.75 and junior tickets will be $6.50.
Here's a look at ski resorts within a six-hour drive of Washington:
BIG BOULDER, 225 miles.
LAKE HARMONY, PA. 717/722-0101.
Base of 28 to 46 inches, with a surface of machine-made and natural packed powder. Eleven runs open and seven lifts operating. Reciprocal lift tickets with Jack Frost Mountain, 6 miles away. Snow report: 717/722-0104. BLACKWATER NORDIC CENTER, 180 miles.
DAVIS, W. VA. 304/259-5511.
Twenty-five kilometers of trails open, with 10 kilometers of trails machine groomed. Base of 3 to 4 inches, with a powder surface of 3 to 4 inches. BLUE KNOB, 150 miles.
CLAYSBURG, PA. 814/239-5111.
Base up to 38 inches, with a surface of packed powder. Nineteen to 21 runs open and seven lifts operating. Racing Saturday. BRYCE MOUNTAIN, 120 miles.
BASYE, VA. 703/856-2121.
Base of 5 to 40 inches, with a granular surface. Three slopes and three beginner areas open, four lifts operating. Snow report: 703/856-2151. CAMELBACK, 230 miles.
TANNERSVILLE, PA. 717/629-1661.
Base of 24 to 60 inches, with a machine-groomed granular surface. Twenty-five trails open and five lifts operating. Snow report: 800/233-8100. CRANBERRY NORDIC CENTER, 225 miles.
MARLINTON, W.VA. 304/572-3771.
Forty-five kilometers of trails open. Base of 4 to 8 inches, with a surface of packed powder. Back country trips scheduled this weekend. Snow report: 800/225-5982. ELK MOUNTAIN, 260 miles.
UNIONDALE, PA. 717/679-2611
Base of 18 to 42 inches, surface of packed powder. Fourteen trails open and four lifts operating. Keystone Cup Slalom Saturday. Snow report, 800/233-4131. ELK RIVER TOURING CENTER, 225 miles.
SLATYFORK, W.VA. 304/572-3771.
Thirty kilometers of trails open, with 20 kilometers machine groomed. The base is 5 to 9 inches, with a powder surface. Night skiing and skating clinics scheduled this weekend. Snow report: 800/225-5982. HIDDEN VALLEY, 191 miles.
SOMERSET, PA. 814/443-6454 or 800/458-0175.
Base of 10 to 40 inches, with 10 runs and 4 lifts operating. Winterfest '88 continues through the weekend, with races, ice sculpture contests, and a torch light parade at 10 p.m. Saturday. Lift-ticket prices will be reduced 50 percent in March. Other ski discount packages available. THE HOMESTEAD, 200 miles.
HOT SPRINGS, VA. 703/839-5079.
Base of 20 to 60 inches, with a machine-made powder surface. Seven slopes open and four lifts operating. Night skiing, ice skating daily. JACK FROST MOUNTAIN, 225 miles.
WHITE HAVEN, PA. 717/443-8425.
Base of 30 to 70 inches, with machine-made and natural surface. Nineteen trails open and seven lifts operating. Reciprocal lift tickets with Big Boulder, 6 miles away. LAUREL MOUNTAIN, 190 miles.
BOSWELL, PA. 412/238-6688.
Base of 10 to 40 inches, with a powder surface. Fifteen runs open and two lifts operating. Reduced rate skiing from 4:30 to 9 Sunday for $7. Snow report: 412/238-4460. MASSANUTTEN, 125 miles.
HARRISONBURG, VA. 703/289-9441.
Base of 23 to 69 inches, with machine-worked granular surface. Nine trails open and three lifts operating. NASTAR races at 2 Saturday and Sunday. MONTAGE, 210 miles.
SCRANTON, PA. 717/969-7669.
Base of 12 to 40 inches, with packed-powder and granular surface. Seventeen trails open and five lifts operating. Keystone State Games, open to residents of Pennsylvania, will be held this weekend. The alpine giant slalom is at 10 Saturday, the dual slalom at 10 Sunday. SEVEN SPRINGS, 190 miles.
CHAMPION, PA. 814/352-7777 or 800/458-2313.
Base of 10 to 38 inches, with a surface of packed powder. Twenty-eight trails open and 14 lifts operating. SHAWNEE MOUNTAIN, 210 miles.
SHAWNEE ON DELAWARE, PA. 717/421-7231.
Base of 25 to 65 inches, with a granular surface. Twenty-two runs open and five to six lifts operating. Snowboarding from 5 to 10 Saturday night. Snow report: 800/742-9633. SKI LIBERTY, 65 miles.
FAIRFIELD, PA. 717/642-8282.
Base of 29 to 41 inches, with surface of loose granular. Fourteen runs open and five lifts operating. The February Fun Finale ski race open to all will be held Sunday at 11 on White Lightning. A pair of K2 skis will go to the winner. Snow report: 800/233-1134. SKI ROUNDTOP, 121 miles.
LEWISBERRY, PA. 717/432-9631.
Base of 46 to 56 inches, with a machine-groomed granular surface. Thirteen runs open and eight lifts operating. Snow report: 800/233-1134. WHITE GRASS TOURING CENTER, 188 miles.
CANAAN VALLEY, W.VA. 304/866-4114.
Fifty kilometers of trails open, with 20 kilometers machine groomed. Base of 1 to 4 inches, with a powder surface of 2 to 3 inches. WINTERGREEN, 168 miles.
WINTERGREEN, VA. 800/325-2200.
Base of 28 to 76 inches, with a powder surface. Twelve runs open and five lifts operating. WISP RESORT, 185 miles.
OAKLAND, Md. 301/387-5503.
Base of 8 to 26 inches, with a granular surface. Eight trails open and seven lifts operating. Governor's Cup Races Saturday and Sunday.