Ski season is just around the corner: Soon, weather forecasters will be warning of snow in the greater Capital Region.
Ahead of the curve is the Northeast Ski & Craft Beer Showcase, which runs Friday to Sunday at the Albany Capital Center. For many of the 8,000 people expected to make their way there this weekend, the event marks the kickoff of the season.
“It’s become a reunion for a lot of people,” said organizer Mark Bardack.
In its 57th year, the Northeast Ski & Craft Beer Showcase is one of the longest running winter sports expos in the country. This will be its second year at the Capital Center, which has invigorated the showcase, said Bardack. While it’s changed a bit over the years—most recently adding new craft beer options to the show—the founding premise hasn’t changed.
This year, there will be lift-ticket deals, more beer options, entertainment and plenty of shopping options for snow and ski gear.
Alpin Haus, which sponsors the showcase, has three truckloads of gear coming into the Capital Center, filled with everything from skis to goggles to active-wear for the slopes.
Alpin Haus owner Andy Heck said people are looking for clothing that's warm, but not bulky. That way they can wear it on and off the mountain. On the slopes, people want goggles that adapt to the conditions and that make them stand out. According to Heck, some skiers will dress conservatively when it comes to the color of their gear, but will branch out when it comes to their goggles, choosing brighter hues.
People are also gravitating toward goggles with magnetic lenses, which wearers can swap out depending on conditions.
Skis themselves have evolved over the years, becoming lighter and more stable.
“It’s easier to get into the sport now,” Heck said.
He’s noticed more and more families getting into skiing together. Parents who may have skied at one time are getting their kids into the sport at a young age.
“Our youth business is really exploding,” Heck said.
The showcase makes it easy to hunt for gear and good deals, according to Heck, because so many retailers are there. Besides Alpin Haus, there will also be representatives and gear from Potter Brothers and Steiner’s Sports.
The showcase has also become a place for people to simply meet and grab a beer. This year, Saratoga Eagle is presenting the craft beer garden, which will include a mix of wine and spirits from local and regional breweries, wineries and distilleries. The craft beer garden will be open from 4 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, noon to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and noon to 3:30 p.m. Sunday.
There will also be mimosa specials from 10 a.m. to noon on Sunday.
As for entertainment, Capital Disc Jockeys will play from the event's open to close. There will also be a freestyle aerial show with semi-pro athletes performing on an indoor rail slope. For kids and families, there will be face painting and a balloon artist.
On Friday, the first 500 attendees will receive two-for-one lift tickets to select Vermont mountain resorts. Then on Saturday and Sunday, the first 500 attendees will receive free lift tickets to participating New York mountains, courtesy of I SKI NY. Representatives from several mountain resorts across the country will be on hand to offer their own lift-ticket deals, including Bolton Valley Resort, Bromley Mountain, Catamount Mountain, Gore Mountain, Jackson Hole, Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort, Mount Snow Mountain Resort, Oak Mountain, Smuggler’s Notch Resort, Stratton Mountain Resort, Sugarbush Resort, West Mountain, Whiteface Mountain and Windham Mountain.
The showcase’s schedule is packed. Each year, it seems to attract more people.
“People will line up hours before the show,” Bardack said. In previous years, there have been roughly 400 people waiting to get in. But from the moment the doors open, organizers are usually able to get everyone inside within half an hour.
Bardack is anticipating around 8,000 attendees this year, if not more.
“People remember last year and the strong winter [we had],” Bardack said.
Tickets are $10 per day if purchased ahead of time and $12 at the door. Three-day value passes are available for $25 at northeastskishow.com. Attendees purchasing tickets at the door can save $2 if they bring a new, unwrapped toy to the show, which goes to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots holiday toy campaign. Children 10 and under can attend for free.
Guests are also encouraged to attend the Albany Auto Show at the Times Union Center Nov. 2-4. Those who are interested will receive a $2 discount voucher for the auto show by visiting the Northeast Ski & Craft Beer Showcase.
Northeast Ski & Craft Beer Showcase
WHEN: 4-9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Albany Captial Center, 55 Eagle St.
TICKETS: $10 in advance, $12 day of
PARKING: Free at Times Union Center
MORE INFO: northeastskishow.com