KEYSTONE GAMES WINTER FESTIVAL ACTION READY TO HEAT UP

By GEORGE SMITH; Times Leader Outdoors Editor

Monday, February 03, 1997     Page: 1B

You can scream down the slopes on skis, bonk off obstacles while riding a snowboard, and pirouette around a rink on figure skates.
And if you’re good, you can win gold, silver and bronze medals.
You can compete with others of similar abilities in your age group and have wintry fun at Pennsylvania’s Olympic-style amateur multisport program.
The 10th annual Keystone State Games Winter Sports Festival will start Thursday and run through Feb. 16. About 700 athletes will participate.
The Winter Sports Festival is the winter segment of the Keystone State Games.
Headquartered in Wilkes-Barre, the Keystone State Winter Games are open to all amateur athletes. Only state residents are able to receive medals.
Alpine skiing~ competition will be held Thursday through Sunday at Montage Ski Area in Scranton. U.S. Figure Skating Association and Ice Skating Institute of America events will be held at the Ice-A-Rama at Coal Street Park in Wilkes-Barre Feb. 14-16.
At Montage, skiers will compete in a~ downhill, giant slalom~, modified giant slalom, dual slalom, a first timer’s race, a freestyle moguls event and a cross-country ski clinic. Snowboarders will have an event all their own.
The festival will kick off with opening ceremonies at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Montage.
“It will be a traditional opening ceremonies in that the Montage staff will perform a serpentine torchlight parade down the mountain. After that, there will be a fireworks display lighting up the ski area,” said Dave Farrand, the Games’ deputy director.
The skiing competition will begin Thursday at Montage, with the most dangerous event in alpine racing — the high-speed downhill. The race is restricted to advanced or elite skiers at least 16 years old.
A giant slalom is set for Friday and is restricted to advanced or elite skiers at least 13 years old. Helmets are required for the downhill and giant slalom.
A modified GS and dual slalom for skiers of all abilities will be held Saturday and Sunday.
The freestyle moguls event also will be held Saturday and judging will be based on ~the quality of turns, aerial maneuvers, speed of run, and overall performance.
Besides the alpine racing competitions, cross-country skiing instruction in both diagonal stride and skating and a fun race will be held on a 2K course on Saturday. Equipment is available free of charge from Bear Creek Ski Shack on Montage Mountain Road. No entry fee is required for the clinic, but registration is required.
“This is a great opportunity for families to get out and try cross-country skiing,” Farrand said. “There is no charge, and you can borrow the equipment. It’s a sure thing. All you have to do is make the arrangements.”
Serious cross-country ski races are scheduled for Feb. 15 at Wilkes-Barre Municipal Golf Course. The 5K and 10K events are set to begin at 10 a.m.
“The cross-country races are a go. We have been pushing the applications out the door because of last year’s successful event.
“We don’t have sufficient snow (to hold the event) right now, but there is time. We’re hoping for snow,” Farrand said.
A “first-time race” for alpine skiers of all ages will be held Sunday on a beginner slope at Montage. The clinic will focus on racing basics such as starting and maneuvering through the gates while maintaining speed and technique.
The snowboard competition will be held Saturday, and snowboarders will receive special attention with a new event called a snowboard park jam.
The jam will involve two rides scored by two sets of three judges. Judging will be based on style, hits and difficulty. A minimum of three separate hits off the jumps/obstacles will be required to score.
“Snowboarding has become so popular and interest is so great that we wanted to hold an event specially geared to the sport. We are excited about that and are excited about the course created by the snowboarders on the Montage staff,” Farrand said.
Ski hard. Pursue the gold. Ride that snowboard. Become elegance personified on the ice rink.
All at the Keystone State Games Winter Sports Festival.
Call the Games’ office at 823-3164 for information.

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