Celebrate the return of skiing and skating

On those rare, oh so rare, occasions that locals get ornery about winter weather, usually there's someone in the crowd that pipes in with a piping hot cup of sarcasm and says "You know you live in New England."

And then perhaps, good old Yankee sensibility kicks in.

Yes, around here we tend to light a wood stove instead of cursing the winter darkness.

Partly, that's because here across the region there's plenty of fun be had before the robins return and the grass gets green yet again.

And true to form, some of the best wintertime gaiety comes from two classic activities skiing and ice skating.

For starters, Powder Ridge is back.

From when it opened in 1959, Powder Ridge Ski Area in Middlefield was where plenty of Nutmeggers first learned to snowplow and shoosh on skis.

Sadly, the slope, located on Besek Mountain, closed in 2007. Powder Ridge was eventually purchased by the town of Middlefield in 2008 who tried for four years to find a buyer.

In February 2012, Brownstone Exploration and Discovery Park of Portland bought the ski area and have been renovating it for in preparation for a mid-December opening. So keep your eyes peeled to the website for that.

In addition to skiing, there are areas for snowboarding and tubing among the 24 trails.

According to group sales director Kristen Griffith, Powder Ridge will officially "turn its lights" on Nov. 29 with a public celebration.

Griffith said Powder Ridge will be a destination even after the snow melts, as they are building a new restaurant on the mountain, the cafeteria is open for apres ski refreshment and even a glass of beer or wine.

On Nov. 22, Washington Trust Company Skating Rink at 61 Main St. in Westerly will once again be open for some slippery business.

Rink director Tanner Evak said the 100' x 120' ice surface will be host to the usual activities which in addition to skating include hockey practices and broomball games.

There are public sessions seven days a week in the mornings and then again in the late afternoon and evenings. The rink stays open until 9 p.m on Friday and Saturday.

Daily rates range from $5 to $7 and season passes range from $60 to $100. A household pass is $200. There are

discounts available for YMCA members. Rentals and sharpening are available for additional fees.

The Norwich Municipal Ice Rink at 641 New London Turnpike, Norwich has public skating at various times during the week.

Because of the rink's busy slate of hockey in the winter, it's best to check the calendar on its website for the best times. (www.norwichrink.com)

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