Skiers and snowboarders have started to head to the mountains of West Virginia as the first downhill area opened Wednesday for the 2013/2014 season.
Snowshoe Mountain opened its trails Wednesday morning, kicking off their 40th season with three lifts and about 10 trails available for skiers and snowboarders.
Meanwhile officials with Winterplace Ski Resort in Raleigh County announced they opened Friday, two weeks ahead of their scheduled Dec. 14 opening. After providing skiing this weekend, Winterplace will rope off the trails Monday through Thursday for early season trail maintenance and then open for the rest of the season beginning Friday.
The other alpine areas in the state, Canaan Valley, Timberline, and Oglebay are all planning to open for the season the early part of December. 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.
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," says Terry Pfeiffer, president of the West Virginia Ski Areas Association and president of Winterplace. 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 online at www.goskiwv.com.