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Welcome to New York Welcome to New York Welcome to New York Welcome to New York; With better runs than Broadway and more high-fliers than Wall Street, Upstate New York is an undiscovered ski gem, says PETE THOMPSON.

Byline: PETE THOMPSON

HURTLING down Broadway at a rate of knots, there's not a soul in sight as I marvel at the New York skyline. It's rush hour, but there are no swarms of yellow taxis or sidewalks packed full of theatre-goers, and the only rush I'm experiencing is a surge of adrenaline as I pick up the pace.

Not for a minute had I envisaged combining the buzz of New York with peace and tranquillity, but I'm revelling in the best of both worlds on a glorious Friday afternoon.

I glance over my shoulder to check for traffic, and a figure flies through the air and lands in front of me like a bolt from the blue.

Fortunately, he isn't the victim of a major accident. He's a freestyle skier who's just performed a double back flip and taken centre stage, as I play a supporting role careering down the pulsating Broadway black run at Whiteface resort. I'm on a road trip, skiing in Upstate New York, where I discover there's no shortage of drama on my tour of six ski resorts in this Empire State, nicknamed due to its vast wealth and variety of resources.

I had never associated New York with skiing, but I find myself tearing down a bobsleigh track, meandering around moguls and taking on the run used for the downhill in the 1980 Olympics.

As I look up at the bottom of that particular run, the scoreboard used for those Lake Placid Games fails to display my time, but I convince myself it was a personal, best before heading back to the summit of Whiteface.

The clear blue sky is deceptive as the temperature has plummeted to -20degC, but I brave the cold and pause to take in magnificent panoramic views of the Adirondack Mountains, and catch sight of the sun reflecting off Lake Placid.

At 3,430 feet, Whiteface has the biggest vertical drop in the east of the United States and a variety of runs for skiers of all abilities.

Much is made of the importance of leaving a lasting legacy after hosting an Olympics, and you only have to stroll down the main street to see the influence the 1980 Games has had on Lake Placid.

Speed skaters glide elegantly around the ice rink outside the impressive Olympic Center, which is packed with children ice hockey training as I peruse the Hall of Fame.

I later pop in to the aptly named Zig Zags Pub on the main street, where co-owner David Sheffield reminisces about reaching speeds of up to 90mph and fracturing his back on more than one occasion, during his time as a bobsleigh pilot in the United States World Cup team.

Thankfully, I hadn't boasted about my 55mph speed as we bolted down Lake Placid's Olympic track in just 48 seconds earlier in the day.

Still on a high from my bobsled experience, but relieved that David was now pulling pints rather than piloting my run, I head back to Whiteface Lodge - a luxury resort nestled in the woodlands, which is a haven for relaxation.

Resisting the temptation to stay put in my plush three-bedroom suite, I'm rewarded with a succulent, locally sourced steak, followed by whiskey tasting in the Lodge's KANU restaurant, and cannot help but be impressed by the professional, friendly service.

Lake Placid and Whiteface serve up a treat on the final leg of a road trip that has already whet my appetite for another visit to what is unchartered territory for so many skiers and snowboarders.

Located in the western Catskill region and just under a three-hour drive from New York City, Plattekill Mountain has 38 trails and is very much a family resort billed as a big mountain terrain with a small mountain charm.

I mark the start of my whistle-stop tour with a cocktail prior to dinner at the Catamount Restaurant in the grounds of the Emerson Resort - a classy hotel and spa where I later sink into a huge four-poster bed.

The following morning, I have a close shave on Mohawk Top, a black diamond run at Belleayre Ski Center, which has the hairs on the back of my neck standing up. But I face the challenge head on and reward myself with a few thirst-quenching steam beers by a huge roaring fire in the Overlook Lodge.

Just a short drive from Plattekill, Belleayre is another resort that's great for families, and I can see why German tourists apparently liken the scenery to the Black Forest. It's then on to Hunter Mountain, another hidden gem with a single diamond run, christened Hellgate.

If I had visited Hunter on January 28, I would have witnessed five teams of firefighters racing down the slopes in uniform, carrying 50-foot hoses as part of an unusual annual ski race to raise funds for New York's Firefighter's Burn Center Foundation, which assisted many victims of 9/11.

But instead, I admire a huge winner's trophy taking pride of place in the bar.

After a welcome two-night stop at the Kaatskill Mountain Club, a convenient short stroll from Hunter, I'm in for a surprise at Windham Mountain. I take in a pleasant blue run through the trees and discover why it was named Windfall, as I pass expensive houses largely owned by wealthy city workers.

Huge snow drifts, iced-over rivers and signs stating 'Beware Bears' keep me awake as I peer out of the window, en route to Gore Mountain early the following morning.

Gore provides spectacular scenery not too dissimilar to The Alps and a great variety of terrain. There are no queues for the ski lifts and I count a handful of skiers on several runs.

At the cosy Alpine Lodge in the quaint hamlet of North Creek, I peer out of my window at the icy Hudson River, before heading for more culinary delights at the atmospheric Trappers Tavern in the Copperfield Inn.

Three days later, I look down on the Hudson, the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero and other iconic New York City landmarks in a trance, during a sightseeing helicopter ride of the Big Apple.

Less than 24 hours after being on the slopes of Whiteface, my pulse is racing again as I'm mesmerised by one of my favourite cities in the world. And I now know it's not only the Broadway in Manhattan that is a hard act to follow.

NEED TO KNOW PETE THOMPSON | was a guest of New York State Tourism - go to - go to T visitnewyorkstate.net | American Airlines flies from |London Heathrow to New York JFK, from PS515 return. See aa.com Kaatskill Mountain Club, kaat-|skillmtnclub.com, offers rooms from PS130 per night; Winwood Inn & Condos, windhammountain.com from PS80 per night; the Copperfield Inn, copperfieldinn.net, PS175 per night; and Whiteface Lodge, thewhitefacelodge.com, PS200 per night.

CAPTION(S):

A bobsled competition at the Olympic |Sports Complex at Mt. Van Hoevenberg

Hitting |the slopes at Whiteface

Writer Pete |Thompson takes in the view at Whiteface

Stunning scenery as |a gondola goes down Whiteface Mountain
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Jan 31, 2015
Words:1179
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