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Ski Resorts Preparing for Season

Photo Provided - Seven Springs Mountain Resort will open Saturday, and resort officials are looking forward to offering a more complete experience, including a new high-speed chairlift.

The temperatures are dropping and the snow is starting to fall at the region’s ski resorts, allowing skiers and snowboarders to once again experience the exhilaration of crisp, cold air and barrel down the fresh powder on the slopes.

Seven Springs Mountain Resort — which sits about 90 minutes from Wheeling — will open its slopes at 8 a.m. Saturday for its first skiers and snowboarders of the season.

Those slopes will be open both Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Seven Springs Marketing and Communications Director Alex Moser said the resort is excited for the crowds it expects over the weekend. Last season began in the heart of the vaccine-less span of the COVID-19 pandemic, when outdoor activities were among the safest people could enjoy.

Folks got out in the open and onto the slopes last year — maybe for the first time, or maybe for the first time in a long time — and they’re itching to come back.

“There’s a carryover from last year where people picked up the bug for skiing and snowboarding,” Moser said. “It’s pretty immense. Our season pass sales are very high. Our ‘Super 7,’ which is the next level down, has sold very well this year as well.

“I know the interest is up. I think people are a little bit less worried about going out, and I think they’re looking forward to even a more complete experience that they’ve known at Seven Springs.”

Part of that more complete experience is the return of indoor dining, which wasn’t available in Pennsylvania at the start of last ski season. Takeout windows will still be available for those who feel more comfortable staying outdoors.

Another addition the resort believes patrons will enjoy is a new, energy-efficient chairlift – a Doppelmayr Alpen Star fixed-grip quad chairlift that replaces the Avalanche lift. Skiers will enjoy the speed, safety and location – they’ll now be dropped off closer to the top of Tyrol Chairlift, allowing for better access to Stowe Slope and Trail.

“It brings us to where we should be,” Moser said. “… We’ve been doing that for the last 15 years, bringing the resort to where it should be, and exceeding it in a lot of areas.”

While patrons likely feel less anxious about heading out and about these days, the anxiety has dropped among the ski resorts as well. Last year, they opened their slopes dealing with plenty of unknowns. They had never maneuvered through a pandemic before.

Now, with vaccines and a greater overall knowledge of the virus, plus a season’s worth of experience in dealing with a new normal, the resorts have a more solid game plan for the coming season.

Snowshoe Mountain Resort in West Virginia opened last week, and spokesman Shawn Cassell said crowds were strong and the resort felt more prepared this time around.

“Going into this season feels a lot more normal than going into last season,” Cassell said. “Last year, going into it, there were so many unknowns. This year, we have a much better idea of what to expect. We’re feeling a little more like we know what we’re getting ourselves into.”

According to Timberline Mountain Resort’s website, that resort’s slopes are scheduled to open Friday. Canaan Valley and Winterplace are scheduled to open Dec. 18.

Oglebay Park’s slope’s availability is weather-dependent.

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