Heavenly and Northstar Open Early - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Heavenly and Northstar Open Early

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Many skiers and snowboarders are chomping at the bit to hit the slopes and they'll get their chance, a few days early.

Boreal opened, last week, and tomorrow a couple more ski resorts will start the 2012 season.

Mother Nature has been good to the Lake Tahoe area.

In fact, the last two storms have dropped more than three feet of snow, at Heavenly Mountain Resort.

That has allowed the ski resort to open two days ahead of schedule.

Crews are hard at work, with final preparations before Heavenly opens for the season.

The gondola is being tested, and snow is being made, thanks to the cooler temperatures.

"When word came down, yesterday, that we were opening early, everyone got really excited," Heavenly Public Relations Coordinator Sally Gunter said. "We were already counting down the days and now we're counting down the hours."

The early opening is good news to an area that relies on ski resorts for winter tourism.

"It's a really big boost for the economy, here in South Lake Tahoe, to be able to open early and bring in tourists and have that winter atmosphere again," Gunter said.

Heavenly is also benefiting from the largest snow-making operation on the west coast.

The early opening means the ski resort will be operating a full week before the first holiday weekend of the season.

"It's always important to be open for Thanksgiving," Gunter said. "And this year, it's very important, after the season we had last year, and I think opening a few days early will even give a bigger boost to the business for the area."

Northstar will also open tomorrow, and Kirkwood will start up on Friday.

Between the three, Vail Resorts will have 111 acres open by the weekend.

"We have our snowmakers up there, making final preparations for snow, our groomers are up there, making sure the runs are groomed for everyone, our food and beverage operations are getting Tamarack Lodge open," Gunter said.

The resort won't be fully functional until we get a few more snow storms.

So, for now, skiers and snowboarders will be able to use the gondola and Tamarack Express.

Still, staff hopes that tomorrow's opening is a sign of things to come.

"I think it just has the staff very excited and it makes the community excited, too," Gunter said. "We want to get out there and ski, also."

Squaw Valley is opening early, too, set for this Friday.

Mount Rose is still set for next Wednesday, November 21.

And Alpine Meadows is planning to open December 7.

Even though skiing is a huge tourist attraction, this is actually better for the locals, giving season pass holders first crack at hitting the slopes.

Written by Paul Nelson
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