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Ice Skating

The Blue Jay Ice Castle, at North Bay Road and Hwy. 189 (tel. 909/337-0802; www.icecastle.us), near Lake Arrowhead Village, was a training site for world champion Michelle Kwan and boasts former "Olympic Coach of the Year" Frank Carrollon on its staff. Several public sessions each day -- as well as hockey, broomball, group lessons, and private parties -- give nonpros a chance to enjoy this impeccably groomed "outdoor" rink, open on three sides to the scenery and fresh air.

Skiing & Snowboarding

When the L.A. basin gets wintertime rain, skiers rejoice, for they know snow is falling up in the mountains. The last few seasons have seen abundant natural snowfall at Big Bear, augmented by snowmaking equipment. While the slopes can't compare with those in Utah or Colorado, they do offer diversity, difficulty, and convenience.

Snow Summit, at Big Bear Lake (tel. 909/866-5766; www.bigbearmountainresorts.com), is the skiers' choice, especially because it installed its second high-speed quad express from the 7,000-foot base to the 8,200-foot summit. There are also green (easy) runs, even from the summit, so beginners can enjoy the Summit Haus lodge and breathtaking lake views from the top. Advanced risk-takers will appreciate three double-black-diamond runs. The resort offers midweek, beginner, half-day, night, and family specials, as well as ski and snowboard instruction. Other helpful Snow Summit phone numbers include advance lift-ticket sales (tel. 909/866-5841) and a snow report (tel. 800/BEAR-MTN [232-7686]).

The Bear Mountain Resort, at Big Bear Lake (tel. 909/866-5766; www.bigbearmountainresorts.com), has the largest beginner area, but experts flock to the double-black-diamond Geronimo run from the 8,805-foot Bear Peak. Natural-terrain skiers and snowboarders will enjoy legal access to off-trail canyons, but the limited beginner slopes and kids' areas get pretty crowded in season. One of two high-speed quad expresses rises from the 7,140-foot base to 8,440-foot Goldmine Mountain; most runs from here are intermediate. Bear Mountain has a ski-and-snowboard school, abundant dining facilities, and a well-stocked ski shop.

The Snow Valley Ski Resort, in Arrowbear, midway between Arrowhead and Big Bear (tel. 909/867-2751; www.snow-valley.com), has improved its snowmaking and facilities to compete with the other two major ski areas, and it's the primary choice of skiers staying at Arrowhead.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.