As countless Italians are doing in Italy's first good ski season in three years, Pope John Paul II slipped away to the slopes during the holidays for a few runs.

Italian state television reported Saturday that the pope spent five hours Friday on a slope rated medium in difficulty at Campo Felice, a popular ski area in the Abruzzo region, about a 90-minute drive from Rome. The 70-year-old pontiff was an avid skier and mountain hiker in his younger days in southern Poland.His first known ski trip as pope, in the mid-1980s, drew lots of media attention, but his latest surprise outing drew little notice.