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Skiing in Schenectady: How Maple Ski Ridge Came to Be

When you think of ski towns, you probably think of high-in-elevation, mountainous areas, like Vail, Park City or Boulder.  You probably don’t think of Schenectady, but, as of 1963, the Electric City is, indeed, a ski town.

 

In the 1950s, farmer and mechanic William Mulyca and his family of six enjoyed skiing at Delaware County ski area Scotch Valley, but wanted a more affordable option closer to home.  The family lived on 280 acres of farmland just west of Downtown Schenectady—a property that contained a steep hill which the Mulyca children had to traverse to get to their one-room schoolhouse.  “When we’d get snow or sleet,” son Vince Mulyca told The Daily Gazette in 2013, “we’d take a sled and slide home.”

 

So, in the winter of 1963, Vince and his siblings devised a plan, and convinced their father to bulldoze a trail up the ridge that they could ski down.  In the early years, there was no lift to bring skiers up the hill, so they walked.  A few years later, though, William built the slope’s first rope tow, utilizing parts from a 1955 Mercury.  Local ski instructor (and current Kingsway resident!)  Freddie Woodall Anderson caught wind of the improvements, and encouraged the Mulycas to open a ski area.  Maple Ski Ridge opened to the public in 1966, and Freddie taught ski lessons there for the next half century.  The local legend, who will turn 101 this February, continued skiing well into her 90s and in 2006 was named one of the “10 great instructors to bring out your best” by SKI Magazine.

 

Today, Maple Ski Ridge has grown to four lifts—two rope tows and two chairlifts—and eight trails.  It consists of 60 skiable acres and 270 feet of vertical.  The lodge at the bottom of the ridge has rental equipment, and a ski school gives lessons to locals learning to ski.  All lift tickets cost less than $40 (very cheap by today’s standards!), and seniors 70 and up ski free.  And, it’s still family-run, with Vince’s nieces serving as mountain manager and general manager, and his daughter serving as marketing manager.  Their children, what would be the fourth generation, are engaged in the area as well.  So, will Maple Ski Ridge be around for another 50-plus years? Schenectady skiers can only hope.