Skiers and snowboarders will be heading to the mountains of West Virginia this week as the first downhill area will be opening for the 2014/2015 season. Snowshoe Mountain is planning to open tomorrow, November 26. For the other alpine areas in the state, Winterplace is planning to open this Friday, November 28 and be open through Sunday, November 30 and officially open full time Friday, December 12 along with Timberline on that day. Canaan Valley will be opening this Saturday, November 29 and Oglebay when weather permits. The natural snow that fell earlier this month allowed one of the state’s Nordic areas, White Grass Touring Center, to begin providing cross-country skiing and snowshoeing last week.
Along with the natural snow in the mountains, temperatures in the higher elevations have been cold enough for snowmaking operations to take place, allowing all of the resorts to provide excellent season opening conditions.
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 top states providing skiers and snowboarders visiting West Virginia slopes are Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio and Florida.
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.