Mad River Mountain in Zanesfield

Columbus Parent asked Mitch Wagner, 14, of Powell, for his expert advice on how to make the most of a day trip to Mad River Mountain (MRM), Central Ohio's snow-sport destination:

INTRO TO MAD RIVER MOUNTAIN:
MRM has three parts: The Terrain is for the ski slopes (24 trails in all), which are used by skiers and snowboarders. Capital Park has a "terrain park" with the boxes, rails and jumps that snowboarders need for doing tricks, and Momentum Park is a beginner-level terrain park. Avalanche Tubing Park is for snow tubing. Capital Park is by far my favorite part of Mad River Mountain. It's insane and was voted riders' favorite park in the Midwest on the website OnTheSnow.com. They have a wide variety of features that change just about every Friday, with jumps and rails for just about any skill level. The lines to get on the lifts get pretty long when it's really busy. I've seen parents with leashes attached to their kids, going down the difficult hills. What happens if they fall? I don't know. I wouldn't say age is as important as personality: How long can your kid stand the cold? Can they stand falling a little bit? What's their interest level? They do have an adventure club group where beginner kids can learn to ski or snowboard with kids their age and abilities. So the parents could ski the difficult hills while their kids hang with the group. GETTING THERE:
Take Rt. 33. Don't try getting fancy driving there - it will just take you longer.
FOOD ACQUISITION:
There is a cafeteria with two seating areas and a wide variety of things: burgers, hotdogs, chicken sandwiches, soups, Hostess products, cold drinks, hot drinks and energy drinks. Prices are decent; for example, a cheeseburger costs $3.50. You can also bring your own food, which I recommend and often do. I usually take a sack lunch with a sandwich, pop and some snacks. But I suggest keeping it in your car so it's not lost or taken.
CROWD STRATEGY:
Crowds are heaviest usually on Fridays starting around 3 p.m., all day Saturday, and also on days of contests and "Rail Jam" events. And they're occasionally busy on Sundays. The lightest times are weekdays during the day and at night, Monday through Thursday. Most of the time, not all lifts are open on weekdays. The main ones are always open, but the others depend on the amount of people there.
TAKE A BREAK:
You can take breaks just about anywhere in the lodge. I like the main sitting room in the cafeteria, which has a fireplace. There is also a store that some people visit while they're taking breaks. They also have a loft that is mainly for adults, because they do serve alcoholic beverages. Some parents will bring their kids to Mad River to ski or snowboard, and the parents will sit in the lodge to read and relax.

EQUIPMENT ACQUISITION:
They have a store where they sell clothing, along with screws and bolts for boards and helmets. They do not sell snowboards or skis, but they do rent them (see the information box). There is a shop called Adams that is right off the same exit and beside Mad River that does sell snowboards and ski gear. Also, a store called Black Sheep skate shop opened up nearby, and they also sell snowboards.