Sugar boarders

Snowboarders gather at the top of Sugar Mountain during last ski season.

HIGH COUNTRY — All three of the area ski resorts have opened for the season. Beech Mountain Resort was the most recent to commence, opening for business on Nov. 23.

Before the opening of the season, Beech Mountain Resort Marketing Director Talia Freeman said the resort wanted to feel comfortable with the conditions and that a good product was on the slopes for customers.

The beginning of ski season marks the winter resurgence of the economy in the High Country, as visitors from all over the region will flock to the slopes and bring tourism dollars to local towns.

Sugar Mountain Resort opened earliest, on Nov. 9, followed by Appalachian Ski Mtn. on Nov. 15.

“It gives people a whole lot of notice to make plans, so it’s a beautiful thing,” said Appalachian Ski Mtn. owner Brad Moretz.

Moretz noted the resort has had a good start, and opening two weeks before Thanksgiving will be an economic boon for ASM.

“It’s like a bonus for us,” Moretz said. “Having Thanksgiving just makes our season a little better.”

Appalachian Ski Mtn. has had its second-earliest opening in its history and Sugar Mountain Resort is celebrating its 50th year.

“Anytime you can start your winter season early, it certainly gets our customer base excited and it turns into business,” Freeman said on Nov. 25. “Reservations are up on the mountain and we’ve got a good crowd up on the hill.”

Hawksnest Snow Tubing in Seven Devils currently is planning on being open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until Dec. 13, when it will go to seven days a week.

Opening earlier and staying open later in the season is a goal for the ski mountains as they have invested in snow making equipment in recent years. Sugar Mountain has also added new groomers, snow makers, 30 percent more water capacity and a high-speed, four-passenger lift in its beginner area, which has been widened. Beech Mountain installed a new water pumping system in its renovated pump house to automatically engage more pumps to fuel more snow guns. The resort also added 6,500 feet of water and air lines, expanded its water reservoir, installed 8,000 feet of armored electrical cable and added more slope lighting.

“We’ve streamlined our snow-making process,” Freeman said. “In turn, we’re able to sustain our snow product a lot longer, push more water up the hill, then push out more snow.

The ski resorts enjoyed exceptionally long seasons in 2018-19. ASM, Sugar and Beech each remained open well into March, with Sugar recording a record 141 consecutive days open.

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