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Originally published: 2011-11-25 13:06:11
Last modified: 2011-11-25 13:06:38

Sugar Mountain Resort first to open for 2011-12 season

Sam Calhoun / (sam.calhoun@averyjournal.com)

Remember how it snowed on Oct. 1, and then temperatures turned mild for more than a month? To the snowsport faithful, the early snowfall followed by spring-like temperatures pulled at the heartstrings – luckily, Sugar Mountain Resort, a mountain known for its early season openings, tempted fate and opened for skiing and snowboarding on Saturday, Nov. 12. 

Sugar’s slopes made it three, solid days – to Nov. 15 – before Mother Nature’s warm grasp tightened once again, and the resort had to temporarily shut down. As soon as the cold air returned, though, Sugar reopened, on Nov. 18, offering top-notch early-season conditions until Monday, Nov. 21, when it had to once again succumb to warm weather and temporarily close. Sugar hopes to reopen this week, with plans to stay open continuously for the entire 2011-12 season. 

“The slopes are excellent right now – nice, solid surface, with a little powder,” said Kim Jochl, marketing director for Sugar Mountain Resort, after taking two runs on Upper and Lower Flying Mile slopes on Friday, Nov. 18. 

Snowmaking began early Thursday, Nov. 17, as temperatures dropped into the 20s, while natural snow fell much of the day. Snowmaking continued on Friday, Nov. 18, and will continue this week as temperatures allow. 

“It’s just fantastic out there,” said Gunther Jochl, president of Sugar Mountain Resort, on Friday, Nov. 18, after taking a run down the slopes. 

Ice skating re-opened on Thursday, Nov. 17, and remains open this week. For daily skate session times, click to http://www.skisugar.com/skating.

According to Kim Jochl, Sugar began snowmaking on its tubing runs at the same time it began making snow on its ski slopes, and will place a concentrated effort on opening the runs as soon as weather allows. 

Soon, the weather will hold, more slopes will open and Sugar will get to work on hosting another snowsport season to remember. For the remainder of 2011, that means hosting Thanksgiving Turkey Treat, a four-day ski package, this weekend; SugarFest, an annual weekend of winter fun featuring ski and snowboard demos, fireworks, jam sessions, lodging specials, ski clinics, after parties and a performance by Olympian Paul Wylie, on Dec. 10 and 11; and the 18th annual Preseason Ski Clinic, featuring 1994 Olympic gold and silver medalist Diann Roffe and 2010 U.S. National Super G champion Keely Kelleher, from Dec. 9 to 11. After Christmas, Sugar’s calendar of events becomes even more robust, so stay tuned to The Avery Journal-Times for more announcements. For more information, call (828) 898-4521 or click to http://www.skisugar.com. Take a real-time look at the slopes through the live, streaming web cam by clicking to http://www.skisugar.com/sugarlive.

Around the slopes …

Appalachian Ski Mountain 

According to Appalachian Ski Mountain staff, Appalachian’s opening day for its 50th season is being “postponed until snowmaking temperatures allow for ongoing skiing operations. Snowmaking staff and equipment are on standby and awaiting temperatures in the 20s or lower. Skiing will commence soon thereafter.” For more information, call (828) 295-7828 or click to http://www.appskimtn.com. 

Hawksnest Resort

According to Hawksnest staff, the resort is still waiting for a prolonged cold weather pattern to begin making snow for its tubing park, the largest snow-tubing park on the East Coast. “There have been a few intermittent days of cold, but not enough to do much good. Be assured we are as anxious as you for the winter season to begin,” according to a staff report. Hawksnest is open daily for zipline tours. For more information, call (828) 963-6561 or click to http://www.hawksnest-resort.com.

Beech Mountain Resort

After a busy summer of improvements and additions to its ski slopes, village, website and rental department, Beech Mountain Resort is eager to open for the 2011-12 season to show it all off. Currently, Beech, like others, is hostage to proper snowmaking temperatures, and has plans to open its slopes, tubing runs and ice-skating rink as soon as possible. For more information, call (828) 387-2011 or click to http://www.beechmountainresort.com.