WV ski season begins this week at Snowshoe - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

WV ski season begins this week at Snowshoe

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Thanks to early snowfall and chilling temperatures, ski season in West Virginia is starting a little earlier than in recent years.

The West Virginia Ski Areas Association said ski season will begin in the Mountain State on Nov. 21 when Snowshoe Mountain opens its first three top-to-bottom runs and four lifts at the Snowshoe and Silver Creek ski areas.

The state's other ski resorts — Canaan Valley, Oglebay and Winterplace — are expected to open for the season the early part of December.

One of the state's nordic skiing areas — White Grass Touring Center in Davis — has been open since last month thanks to the heavy snow that Superstorm Sandy brought to the northcentral part of the state.

Sandy also dumped several feet of snow on the state's alpine skiing areas. That thick base, coupled with man-made snow, helped to create excellent conditions at Snowshoe for the opening weekend of skiing, according to the Ski Areas Association.

"The skiers and snowboarders here for the Thanksgiving holiday are going to be pleased with the amount of snow we are opening up with," Dave Dekema, Snowshoe Mountain's marketing director, said in a news release. "After last season's delayed opening, it's great to open on time for the first time in a few years." 

Snowmakers at all of the state's ski resorts can produce manmade snow whenever temperatures permit. When snowmaking conditions are at their best (in the low teens), more than 20,000 tons of snow can be produced in West Virginia per hour, which is enough snow to cover 20 football fields with a foot of snow each hour

West Virginia's ski resorts annually attract more than 800,000 skier visits. However, last year the ski resorts reported a 15 percent decline in visitors due primarily to delayed openings and mild season-long temperatures.

"It's great to open on time," said Terry Pfeiffer, president of the West Virginia Ski Areas Association.

West Virginia's ski and snowboard season traditionally runs from Thanksgiving through early April. The season has an estimated economic impact of over $250 million and 5,000 jobs at the resorts and other related companies.