We found winter

Chad Douglas showing off his skiing skills

With above average temperatures and little snow, many are wondering where's winter?

KHQA's Chad Douglas thinks he found it, and it's only a short drive from home.

This Points of Interest report takes us just under three hours away from Quincy to Andalusia, Illinois. It's about 15 minutes away from the Quad Cities. In the middle of what seems to be flat farm fields down a gravel road, a winter wonderland pops up and is ready for you to play.

Welcome to Ski Snowstar Winter Sports Park. A small ski resort that promises a lot of fun.

Skier Craig Schaer says, "The hills ain't that big, not that it's a bad place, but it's very easy to get here. It's close. If you're rusty, like me that used to ski, it's a good place to come back to and get in tune."

Skier Erick Look says, "Compared to some other parks, it's a little bit smaller but you really get a personalized experience here. Not very many people here."

That's on a weekday. When the weekends roll around, the crowds get bigger. However this winter, the warm weather has kept people off the slopes, but there's really no need to stay away.

When there's no real snow, Ski Snowstar can make its own snow. There are 33 guns around the 20 acre park. In a 24 to 48 hour period, crews can blow six to eight inches of snow all over the grounds.

Mark McGough says, "Real snow is a little more natural. It has a little different feeling. It's less icy and it's a little slower. You can feel it on your skis a little more. It's a little more comfortable."

You can also snowboard and tube here too. The resort caters a lot to groups, but welcome anyone. The park has been in Andalusia since 1981 and has grown from two runs to 12 and now has four lifts and two magic carpet rides so you don't have to walk back up the hills.

As for the runs,
McGough says, "We have one that would be basically classified as a black diamond. That is the Comet right over there between the lifts. Every place is different. Our resort is really good for beginner skiers and intermediate skiers."

There are jumps and rails though for you more experienced skiers.

What if you are a first timer like me? No worries, there's qualified ski instructors here who will send you through a ski school. It lasts about an hour, then you can hit the slopes.

David Southard is from Peoria and is a first timer who didn't take the one hour ski school.

Southard says, "I went a lot faster than I thought I was going to go. Wow. I don't know if I can stop."

He also fell down several times.

At least I didn't fall down. One thing that was nice about the ski school, it's away from the slopes, so if you don't want a bunch of people watching you learn, it's a pretty comfortable place to look like Bambi on ice.

You can find more information about Ski Snowstar Winter Park, including prices and times by clicking here.