OTSEGO, Mich. (WOOD) — Some skiers and snowboarders are celebrating the New Year on West Michigan’s slopes.
Bittersweet Ski Resort in Otsego opened at noon on New Year’s Day.
It marks the resort’s third day open this season; they were able to open for two days the weekend before Christmas before milder temperatures and rain shut them down again.
“This is kind of like our opening day in a lot of ways. (It’s) huge. We’ve probably skied right around a thousand people today,” Bittersweet general manager Victor Gayheart told 24 Hour News 8 Friday night.
Gayheart said that as late as Thursday night at 5 p.m., Bittersweet’s main hill was still mostly open grass. But thanks to cool temperatures and their snow guns running full force overnight, they were able to open three runs Friday.
Though the resort is getting a late start to the season, Gayheart said it’s huge for business that it could open for the tail end of Christmas break.
“If we would’ve had a couple extra chairs, it would’ve been better for the skiers. But no one’s complaining, nobody else is open, we did everything we could do get open. And having three runs open is better than not skiing at all,” he said.
Whether the snow is real or fake or whether there’s a few runs open or all of them, people who talked with 24 Hour News 8 Friday didn’t seem to mind either way. They were just happy to shake off the cabin fever.
“It’s really good ’cause I was stuck inside, you know. We had the slush and everything on the roads, couldn’t really do anything, it was raining. Finally we got some snow to fall. So it’s really nice,” said Tommy Sadler, who was snowboarding with friends.
Steve Hoag and his daughter drove two hours from Warsaw, Ind. just to catch a few runs Friday.
“My daughter’s going to school in D.C. and she hasn’t skied for two years, and she said ‘let’s go skiing.’ And this is the only place open, so we’re here,” Hoag said.
“We just love to ski and it’s great to get out. We were very happy with the warm weather because we were nice and warm going outside — but we miss the skiing,” he added.
As for the delayed ski season, Gayheart said he’s optimistic they’ll recover from the loss of business.
“If we could go into March and the skiers keep coming out, we could make up quite a bit of it,” he said. “A lot of times when you open early, the skiers tend to stop skiing early. But if you open late, you’d like to think they’ll ski late. We might be able to make up for it.”
Gayheart said seasonal workers may be as excited as the skiers to see a solid winter forecast, as they’ve been eager to get back to work.
Meanwhile, Cannonsburg Ski Area in Cannon Township is expected to open New Year’s weekend.
Marketing Director Alycia Choroszucha told 24 Hour News 8 Cannonsburg workers were busy blasting their snow makers on New Year’s Day and planned to open Saturday or Sunday. She stressed visitors should check Cannonsburg’s Facebook or Twitter page as they will announce their exact opening day on social media.
Timber Ridge Ski Area in Gobles announced on Facebook they plan to open Monday at 1 p.m.