To some skiers, it's the mountain. For others, it's a bigger picture: scenery, nightlife, shopping and dining. Whiteface has it all: the mountain (3,216 vertical feet), a village (Lake Placid, an oasis of civilization amid the wilds of the Adirondacks) and on top of it all, a rich Olympic heritage. No wonder Whiteface ranks No. 1 in North America for Off-Hill Activities. Even better, it's still relatively undiscovered. So while readers have named it No. 2 in the East for two years running, the place still counts fewer than 150,000 skier visits per year-less than one-fifth of Killington's biz. "I skied three days and only saw a handful of other skiers," notes one reader. Here's a tip: Get here soon. The state-owned resort is finally being updated. That started with the Cloudsplitter gondola and continues with a reconfiguring of lower lifts. The mountain itself is the same: "3,000-plus vertical of steep terrain," crows one reader, though there's variety, from the Bunny Hutch learner slopes to the fearsome Slides. And while other resorts scramble to build villages, Whiteface has the real deal in Lake Placid, which is packed with shoreline shops and restaurants. So the weather can be "very, very, very cold," but that helps explain why this is the only U.S. site to host the Winter Olympics twice. Be warned: The masses may soon rediscover this New York jewel. Hurry. -Joe Cutts
WHAT'S NEW Valley Triple and Shuttle doubles are replaced by a high-speed quad, opening up lower slopes and speeding summit access.
A GOOD DEAL Winter Passport: $39, for all Olympic venues (hockey rink, speed-skating oval, museum, cross-country trails, jumping complex), plus a gondola ride and $10 off a bobsled ride (800-462-6236).
MEDALS GOLD Terrain, Challenge, Value, Dining, Après, Off-Hill Activities; SILVER Lifts, Lodging, Family Programs, Scenery.
HIGH/LOW RANK Off-Hill Activities (1), Après (9), Challenge (9); Grooming (49), Weather (50), Snow (53).
DON'T MISS The World Bobsled Championships (Feb. 11-23); or a 60-mph ride on a bob (518-523-4436).
READER REMARKS (+) "No Vermont crowds." "A Western mountain in the East."
(-) "Out of the way and hard to get to." "Often icy."