Wax on, take offSki season is here with new and improved slopes at several resorts.
Snow boarders can head to Daemyung Vivaldi Park, Gangwon Province, for its new "X-Zone" stunt course. Skiers have can hit the 1997 Winter Universiade run that has just been renovated at Muju Resort, Jeolla Province.
Here is a rundown of this year's offerings:
Yongpyong, Gangwon Province
This resort is popular among skiers for its great runs and powder-filled bowls. The 18 slopes are often covered with natural snow, making it possible to ski from mid-November through early April. It's open to snowboarders and sliders.
Yongpyong claims to have the longest gondola lift in Asia; it takes about 17 minutes to reach the top.
The resort operates ski and snowboard schools. Private lessons are also available.
After a day of skiing, guests can choose from a variety of entertainment facilities, including a swimming pool, nightclub, gym and sauna. There is a nursery for kids.
Nearby accommodations include an upscale hotel, motels and condominiums.
Weekend lift tickets are 47,000 ($40) won a day. Season tickets are 750,000 won; 450,000 won if purchased using Internet discount sites.
To drive to Yongpyong, take the Yeongdong Highway to the Gangneung interchange. The drive from Seoul is roughly two hours.
Shuttle buses are available from Samseong Station, Jamsil Station and the Lotte Hotel, as well as Bundang, Ilsan, Pyeongchon and Sambon.
Skiers can also fly to Yongpyong via Gangneung airport, then take a free shuttle bus to the resort.
Seoul Resort, Gyeonggi Province
There are four slopes at Seoul Resort, just 30 minutes from the city; one run for beginners, another for intermediates and two for advanced skiers. There also is a sledding area.
At the base of the mountain are video arcades, gyms, aerobic halls and convenience stores. Those who don't ski can swim, bowl or go skating. For dining, there are Korean and Chinese restaurants, fast food and a cafe.
A condominium is located at the resort. There are two types of accommodations. The smaller rooms hold seven to 10 people and cost about 100,000 won a night. The larger rooms cost 150,000 won and sleep up to 15 people.
Frequent skiers can store their skis at the resort. There also are coin lockers for storing luggage. Rental skis and ski suits are available. Broken skis can be repaired at the resort.
The best ticket deal this year is the "Vanilla Sweet" season card with 10 day-lift and 10 night-lift tickets. Cardholders can cash in as many as four lift tickets a day, allowing them to share the savings with friends. The card costs 190,000 won if purchased by Saturday, and 210,000 won during December. January's price is undecided. Season card holders can get a 50 percent discount on ski rentals and 30 percent on snowboard rentals.
To drive to the Seoul Resort, head to Guri, and take Gyeongchun Expressway, National Road No. 48. The resort is about a kilometer from the Machi Tunnel.
Buses leave from in front of Lotte Department Store, Cheongnyangni. Express buses No. 765 and 330, and city buses No. 165 and 165-1 also stop at Seoul Resort.
Chonmasan Ski Resort, Gyeonggi Province
Chonmasan has four slopes -- two for advanced skiers, one for intermediates and one for beginners.
There are seven lifts -- more than other resorts -- affording skiers great views of Mount Cheonma. One of the best places to have a warm drink is the mountaintop cafe.
Its ski school offers three levels of classes. Tired skiers often rest at the Lodge Hotel inside the resort.
While Chonmasan has more lifts than most resorts, its weekend lines still can be long due to its close proximity to Seoul.
Chonmasan has special events on weekends, Christmas and New Year.
Day lift tickets are 31,000 won for adults and 19,000 won for children. Season tickets are 300,000 won for adults, 190,000 won for children.
To drive to Chonmasan, take Gyeongchun Expressway, National Road No. 48, and turn left after the Machi Tunnel. It takes about 40 minutes from Seoul.
By bus, take No. 1115-2 from Gangbyeon Station, No. 901 or 1115 from Jamsil Station or No. 330, 30, 765-1, 650 or 65 at Cheong-nyangni. Get off at the first stop after passing through Machi Tunnel. Walk about 15 minutes.
Daemyung Vivaldi Park, Gangwon Province
New this season for snow boarders is the "X-Zone." This special stunt course includes a multijump, quarter pipe and rail slide.
Night skiing also is new this year and is open Sundays to Thursdays until 10 p.m., and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
The park has 13 runs. But at the moment, only one intermediate-advanced slope and two advanced slopes are open. The remainder will open as snow permits.
Season lift tickets cost 600,000 won for adults. Weekdays-only season tickets are 420,000 won. A 20 percent discount is available by registering at the park's web site.
Season pass holders get discounts for the youth hostel, shuttle bus, sauna facilities and more.
To get to Daemyung Vivaldi, take the Jungbu Expressway to Yangpyeong. Turn left at the World Cup gas station and take the National Road No. 6 and drive about 25 kilometers. The drive takes one hour.
By bus, catch an express from Jamsil Station. Season passes for the bus cost 120,000 won.
Muju Resort, North Jeolla Province
Muju Resort has been renovated, and the new-and-improved sections are reopening tomorrow.
The run that was used for 1997 Winter Universiade will now be a cross country course. The Silk Road, at 6.2 kilometers, is one of the longest slopes in Korea.
In all, there are 30 runs. Snowboarding is allowed.
Night skiing starts on Dec. 14.
Season lift tickets are 670,000 won for adults, 470,000 won for kids.
For late-night revelers, a free shuttle bus runs from downtown Muju to the ski resort from 8 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and national holidays. On other days, the service begins at 9 p.m.
To get to Muju, take the Gyeongbu Expressway to the Daejin Expressway. Exit at the Muju interchange and turn left. Drive to the Riviera Motel and turn left. Pass the Chimok and Gucheondong tunnels and continue to Muju. The drive takes 2 1/2 hours.
The express bus leaves from either Euljiro, Banpo or Jamsil. Tickets are 12,000 won one way. The ride takes three hours. The bus is run by the Daewon travel agency, at (02) 575-7710.
Hongcheon Phoenix Park, Gangwon Province
Phoenix Park has 13 runs, including a stunt park for snowboarders. The park is open daily to 10 p.m. for night skiing. Eleven of the slopes are open.
From Dec. 6, two slopes ?the Penguin, a beginner's course, and the Hawk, an intermediate course ?will be open until 12:30 a.m. every Friday and Saturday.
Season lift tickets are 705,000 won for adults and 605,000 won for kids under 12. Season ticket holders get a 10 percent discount on the shuttle bus and a 50 percent discount on weekday accommodations.
To get to Hongcheon Phoenix Park, take the Jungbu Expressway to the Hobeop Interchange, then take the Yeongdong Expressway to Myeonon interchange. A shuttle bus takes motorists from the Myeonon Interchange to Phoenix Park Ski World.
By bus, catch a shuttle from the Glass Tower, Samseong-dong. One-way tickets cost 12,000 won. The trip takes two hours.
GETTING THE RIGHT GEAR
BOOTS AND BINDINGS -- You're on your feet all day, so comfort and support are your top priorities. Your boots should be well-insulated and support your ankles and heels. They must be waterproof and have an unbreakable covering. Bindings should be durable, with no-hassle strapping in and easy, one-handed releases.
SKIS AND SNOWBOARDS -- Consider your height, weight and skill level, then choose the length and strength of your skis, boards and bindings accordingly. First-time buyers should ask for assistance at a ski shop. A set of skis, poles, boots and bindings will cost at least 490,000 won ($410); a snowboard package costs 450,000 won and up. The off-season sales have ended, but you can still inquire about last year's models. Online shopping can save you money, but don't buy unless you know know exactly what sizes to get.
SNOWBOARDS, PART 2 -- Broader and softer boards, like the freestyle deck, are good for beginners because they are easier to control and maintain balance.
SAFETY GEAR -- First-time buyers often overlook safety gear because they spend so much for skis and boards. But helmets and knee and hip protectors can prevent injuries. Most resorts don't rent the gear, so it's a good idea to buy your own.
ACCESSORIES -- A warm wool hat to cover your head and ears is a must. A ski mask or a neck warmer is also a good idea. Gloves should be insulated and waterproof. Goggles must be compatible with your helmet and should provide full ultraviolet protection, be vented and possibly have double lenses so they don't fog up. Be sure to bring sun screen. By Son Hyo-won
Ski Resorts Opening Day Phone Website
Poenix Park Now open (033) 333-6000 www.phoenixpark.co.kr
Yongpyong Resort Now open (02) 3404-8000 www.yongpyong.co.kr
Muju Resort Now open (063) 322-9000 new.mujuresort.com
Hyundae Sungwoo Resort Now open (033) 340-3000 hdsungwooresort.co.kr
Daemyung Vivaldi Park Now open (033) 430-7507 www.daemyungcondo.com
Jisan Forest Now open (031) 638-8460 www.jisanresort.co.kr
Seoul Resort Dec. 7 (02) 3487-0764 www.seoulresort.co.kr
Alps Resort Now open (033) 681-5030 www.alpsresort.co.kr
Sajo Resort Dec. 7 (02) 3444-7500 www.sajoresort.co.kr
Chonmasan Resort Now open (02) 2233-5311 www.chonmaski.co.kr
Gangchon Resort Dec. 7 (033) 260-2100 www.gangchonresort.co.kr
Bears Town Now open (031) 540-5000 www.bearstown.com
by Son Hyo-won, Park Sung-ha