Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Opening day brings in the crowds

New attractions help boost skier numbers for holiday weekend

Express Staff Writer

A snowboarder carves a turn on Bald Mountain over the weekend. Photo by Willy Cook

Skier and snowboarder turnout was something to be celebrated on the Thanksgiving Day opening of Bald and Dollar mountains.

Sun Valley Resort spokesman Jack Sibbach said 2,471 people hit the slopes on Thanksgiving, an improvement over opening days of the past three years. He said the turnout in 2005 was about the same.

Sibbach said the fact that opening day took place two weeks prior to last season makes the numbers even more gratifying.

Sun Valley's two ski mountains continued to see relatively similar turnout throughout the weekend, with 2,025 people on Friday, 2,450 on Saturday and 1,850 on Sunday.

And, Sibbach said, locals weren't the only ones hitting the slopes. He said visitors from Boise, Twin Falls and other Idaho towns took advantage of Thanksgiving deals offered by Sun Valley.

"Still, we always want the numbers to be higher," Sibbach said. "That's how it is."

With snowmaking, Bald Mountain had enough snow to have one run open from top to bottom on each of the River Run and Warm Springs sides, and five of 14 lifts were operating. On Dollar Mountain, three of five lifts were running.

"We're really happy with how it started," Sibbach said. "Now, we just need the snow to keep it going."

On Tuesday, the resort reported 33 inches of snow at Baldy's summit, 30 inches at mid-mountain and 26 inches at the base. Sibbach said those depths are for the most part unchanged from opening day.

Thanksgiving was more than just the mountains' season opening. It was also the welcome of many additions, such as the Roundhouse gondola, a revived Roundhouse now serving breakfast, Averell's Bar at the Roundhouse, a terrain park at Lower River Run and a tubing park at Dollar Mountain.

Sibbach said the gondola had 200 riders on Friday who weren't skiing or snowboarding but merely venturing up the 2,000 vertical feet for lunch at the Roundhouse or for an afternoon drink at Averell's Bar.

"The bar was packed," he said. "A lot of people said they'd actually never been up there before."

Trevon Milliard:

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