Ski areas pump up for the season

VERMONT - Whether it's by several days or only a few, many of the local ski resorts will be - if they haven't already - opening the slopes earlier than in past years.

The colder than normal temperatures throughout the month of November provided optimal snowmaking conditions for several of the mountains with some of them beginning to make snow in early November.

Director of Marketing for Bromley Mountain Ski Resort, Michael van Eyck, said that they are always looking for cold weather early in the season to begin making snow and possibly start the season early and this year those conditions presented themselves.

"It was a great benefit to seasons pass holders and the few general public that were looking for a ski day in southern Vermont," said van Eyck. "It was great to be open and it's our earliest opening we believe since 1990. So, it was great to get the weekend off to a good start."

Though Bromley openend last Saturday, van Eyck said that they will only be open on weekends through Nov. 24 and that they will not open full time until Nov. 29.

Mount Snow opened six of their 80 trails from top to bottom last Friday and had a very good turnout according to both Marketing Director Jim Costello and Communications Manager Dave Meaker.

"It was one of our strongest openings ever," said Costello. "There's a lot of pent up demand."

Meaker believed this is the earliest that the mountain has opened since 2007. Beginning in 2008 Mount Snow has typically opened somewhere between Nov. 20 and Nov. 30 and occasionally in December.

Okemo began blowing snow on Nov. 10 and opened on Nov. 13 - three days ahead of their projected opening date, according to according to Director of Public Relations Bonnie MacPherson.

"The temperatures were so favorable we started making snow as soon as we could and we were able to have enough snow and open on Wednesday," MacPherson said.

Unlike some of the other mountains, Okemo has opened earlier than originally expected in the past.

In fact, last year the resort opened a week earlier than originally projected, MacPherson said.

Stratton is also opening four days earlier. Originally Stratton had projected opening on Nov. 27 - the day before Thanksgiving - but decided to open on Saturday, Nov. 23, instead.

"With all the snow that we do have we decided to open earlier than we had planned and that's this Saturday because everyone is really excited to get started," said Marketing and Communications Director of Stratton Mountain Myra Foster.

While Magic Mountain in Londonderry isn't planning to open until Dec. 14, the projected opening date is about a week earlier than the mountain has opened in the past according to president Jim Sullivan.

When the mountain does open it will be with top to bottom snow coverage - something that needs to happen out of necessity because Sullivan said their chairlifts only go to the summit.

Although opening trails top to bottom may be the norm for Magic, the four aforementioned mouuntains have said that a significant change for them is that they have been able to open some of their trails top to bottom.

"This is the very first time in the resort's history that we've been able to open with top to bottom terrain. So, that was kind of a bonus for us," said MacPherson.

Now, many of the mountains are looking forward toward Thanksgiving weekend.

At Bromley Thanksgiving weekend is not be as big as some of the other weekends such as Christmas, Martin Luther King Day and President's weekend, and it's success will in part depend on weather van Eyck said. The current forecast is not only showing favorable temperatures for snowmaking, but possibly some snow, which could result in a decent weekend, van Eyck said.

While the other mountains also indicated that Thanksgiving was not their biggest weekend they said it was still an important one in the industry. "Thanksgiving skiing and riding have become a tradition for so many families," said Foster. "Typically by Thanksgiving there's good snow coverage. Everyone's excited. It's a great time to be with friends and family and it's a long weekend for most people. It's the first long weekend of the ski season. So, it's a really good opportunity to get together in the mountains, come to Vermont, get your ski legs, ski and snowboard legs, [and] get ready for the season."

Meaker expressed similar sentiments.

"It's a big one," Meaker said of the holiday. "Even a couple of years ago when we weren't even open because it was so warm we still had a huge crowd there for the weeekend. It's usually a great weekend for us and if we have some good skiing that's even better."


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