Whiteface, N.Y.: Rank 7 East, 1998

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If a buffet is your favorite kind of meal, then Whiteface is your ski destination. The former Olympic hill and its Lake Placid hub have a smorgasbord of winter activities. In fact, some people spend an entire winter week at Lake Placid without making alpine skiing the centerpiece. Hundreds of miles of cross-country skiing trails cut through the scenic Adirondack Mountains. Dogsleds mush tourists across Mirror Lake. Skaters glide on the oval where Eric Heiden won five gold medals in 1980. There's even a toboggan chute, while the more daring can pilot their own bobsled on a mile-long track. "An excellent family vacation spot," one reader concludes. There's a good amount of terrain, but the state-owned area suffers from tight budgets. While the hulking mountain has the highest vertical rise in the East, it's the only 3,000-foot resort in the country without a high-speed lift. It also needs better snowmaking and grooming. But there are trails to humble the cockiest of skiers. And the views of Lake Champlain and Mt. Marcy, the state's highest peak, are priceless. Plus Stenmark did win gold here. That's worth something itself.

What's New Halfpipe at Bear; two grooming machines; trail widening on Excelsior, Northway, Paron's Run, Parkway and Connector.
A Good DealThe Gold Medal Winter Experience: a $39 ticket includes a bobsled or luge run, cross-country ski pass, three skating passes and admissions to the Olympic ski jumping complex and Winter Olympic Museum.
Medals Gold Terrain, Challenge, Off-Hill Activities; Silver Value, Dining, Après-Ski, Family, Scenery.
High/Low Rank Off-Hill Activities (1); Grooming (73).
Don't Miss The Winter Olympic Museum, where the legacy of the two Lake Placid Games is nicely captured.
Reader Remarks "Plenty to do. Great entertainment." "Windy, cold, icy. Needs better lifts."