Skiers and snowboarders will be heading to the mountains of West Virginia this week as the first downhill area will be opening for the 2013/2014 season. Snowshoe Mountain is planning to open Wednesday, kicking off their 40th season with at least three lifts and about 10 trails for opening day.
The other alpine areas in the state, Canaan Valley, Timberline, Oglebay and Winterplace are all planning to open for the season the early part of December. Officials with Winterplace indicate the mountain may open early due to favorable weather conditions.
The recent cold temperatures throughout the mountains of West Virginia have allowed the resort's snowmakers to work around the clock covering the slopes for skiing and snowboarding. For the latest conditions go to www.goskiwv.com.
"The skiers and snowboarders here for the Thanksgiving holiday are going to be pleased with the amount of snow we are opening up with," said Dave Dekema, Snowshoe Mountain's marketing director. "We are also expecting natural snow this week so that will help the conditions."
The snowmakers at all of the state's ski resorts can produce manmade snow whenever temperatures permit, allowing the industry's unsung heroes to cover the slopes for skiers and snowboarders. When snowmaking conditions are at their best (in the low teens), over 20,000 tons of snow is being produced in West Virginia per hour, enough snow to cover 20 football fields with a foot of snow each hour
The mountain state's resorts annually attract over 800,000 skier visits, and last year that figure was reached.
"It's great to open for the season, all of the resorts are ready for the skiers and snowboarders," said Terry Pfeiffer, president of the West Virginia Ski Areas Association and president of Winterplace. The top states providing skiers and snowboarders visiting West Virginia slopes are Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio and Florida.
The ski and snowboard season traditionally, weather permitting, continues from Thanksgiving through early April. The five-month long ski season in West Virginia has an estimated economic impact of over $250 million and 5,000 jobs at the resorts and other related companies.
For more information on skiing and snowboarding in West Virginia, go on-line at www.goskiwv.com.