A lack of natural snow and a warmer than normal fall will keep most northern Michigan ski areas from opening until December 11th or 18th but both Harbor Springs Resorts, Boyne Highlands and Nubs Nob, got off to an early start opening on a limited basis this weekend. Boyne Highlands used the social networking websites Facebook and Twitter to officially kick off their season offering internet users signed up as friends of the resort two hours of free skiing Saturday afternoon.
A happy unidentified skier gives a double thumbs up as he and his friends ride the lift to the top of Boyne Highlands Heather run after the resort officially opened its 2009/2010 ski season Saturday afternoon.
While the Highlands was open for skiing on one run with one lift operating on Sunday Nubs Nob had four runs open with two lifts taking skiers to the top of the hills. “We were all brown here last Thursday” said Nubs general manager Jim Bartlett “but with the snow guns and two feet of natural snow we’ve even got our cross country trails open.”
Both Resorts will close at four p.m. today and reopen on their regular full schedules next Friday at 9 a.m. “We’ve still got a lot of snow making to do.” said Bartlett but he anticipates that when the resort opens on Friday they should have at least twelve runs open for skiers.
With the lights from the slopes of neighboring Nubs Nob in the distance some of Boyne Highlands new low energy snow guns run through the night to get ready for the opening of the coming ski season.
While crews at resorts around the state will be busy making snow 24 hours a day with most using traditional snow making equipment Boyne will be using its new “Low E” or Low Energy snow guns to build up their base of snow. The new guns were developed by Boyne and are extremely more efficient than the older models. According to Boyne Highlands area manager Joe Breighner the new snow runs produce a lighter, drier snow.
Also added at Boyne Highlands and Boyne Mountain in Boyne Falls this year is a new Zip Line Adventure that lets resort visitors fly down the mountain using harnesses on a series of cables that are stretched back and forth the across the ski runs. The Zip Line is a very popular attraction that Boyne has been operating at its Big Sky Montana resort.
Boyne Highlands Resort general manager Brad Keen (left) lets photographers know that this is the first ski run of the season as he, Boyne Snow Sports Academy director Tony Sendlhoffer (center) and Boyne Resorts vice president of Ski Operations John McGregor (right) take the first chair lift ride to the top of the resorts Heather run to officially start the resorts 2009/10 ski season.
Both ski areas are looking forward to better seasons in 2009/10. According to Boyne USA vice president of ski operations John McGregor Boyne reservations are “up over 2008 and a little over 2007 levels” at this same time of year. “You have to be an optimist to be in this business” said Nubs Nobs Jim Bartlett. While the economy and rainy 2008 holiday season helped put a damper on last season Bartlett said “We’re slightly better off this year than we were last year.”
Almost all of the ski resorts in the northern part of Michigan’s lower peninsula plan on being at least partially open next weekend including Boyne Mountain, Caberfae, Crystal Mountain, The Homestead, Treetops and Shanty Creek.