Buried under nearly 13 inches of snow, Madison attracted winter enthusiasts for frosty outdoor recreation all this week.

Madison residents took advantage of the record-breaking snow accumulation, conducive to activities such as cross-country skiing, ice fishing and sledding.

?Because of all of the accumulation of snow, the cross-county skiing has been great,? said Laura Witmore, community relations coordinator for the Madison parks. ?The more snow, the more people.?

She said Madison parks already sold 1,300 annual ski passes this winter, compared to the 900 ski passes sold in the entire 2006-07 winter season.

Witmore said snowy winters are especially great for the cross-county ski clubs that utilize the trails in Madison parks, but that colder winters make for great ice-skating.

In addition to the parks, people take to the frozen lakes with their skis, snowmobiles and fishing poles.

Before heading out on one of Madison?s lakes, D&S Bait, Tackle & Archery, LLC offers the Fishing Hot Line, giving fishing aficionados advice on lake surface conditions and which areas are best for casting lines.

Keith Brassington, a Madison native and D&S employee, said the snow has not been hard on the fish, but rather the fishermen. When the ice turns slushy, traveling conditions on the lakes become difficult. For convenience, some use four-wheelers to speed up the trip to their fishing hole, or shacks to block the harsh winds.

Although this winter has not been a particularly fruitful fishing season, Brassington still said he thinks Madison is a rich site for the sport.

?[Madison is] probably one of the best around,? Brassington added. ?There is a good quality fishery around here. The quality of the fish is better and healthier than most other places.?

Some students, however, decide to head straight to Observatory Hill, adjacent to Elizabeth Waters Residence Hall, for sledding after the heavy snowfall. Thrifty individuals without sleds often use cafeteria trays to slide down the slick, steep hill, an activity fondly known by Madison students as ?tray-ing.?

?More trays disappear the more snow that there is,? said Brian Burke, Elizabeth Waters food manager of 20 years. ?There may be an isolated shortage, but we expect it to a certain extent, so it?s generally not an issue.?

Burke said he does not think anyone gets really angry about the abandoned trays but mentioned recovery can be an annoyance for custodial and food service staff who have to retrieve weather-beaten trays when the snow melts.

University of Wisconsin senior Karen Backes had her first tray sledding experience after last week?s blizzard. She said she and her sledding posse snagged their trays from another group leaving and by scrounging abandoned trays on the hill.

Backes said other students started showing up, some bringing their own sleds, snowboards and even one person on a skateboard. She said she was quite tired by the time they left from trekking up the hill countless times. When asked if she would ever go down on a skateboard, she said she?s ?not that brave.?

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