Resorts Gear Up For Season

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November 21, 2018
Daily News-Record  11/21/18
HARRISONBURG — About a week ago, Massanutten Resort cranked up its snow-making machines hoping to get an early start to the ski season.
The machines shot out the white fluffy stuff for one night, but Mother Nature didn’t cooperate.
“We hoped to make some last week, but the storm brought some warmer temperatures, so we weren’t able to make snow,” said Kenny Hess, the resort’s director of sports and risk management.
On Thursday, an early wintry blast rolled into the Shenandoah Valley. It brought ice and snow, but a warm front came in behind it.
Hess said the resort needs the temperature to stay around 28 degrees or below with certain humidity levels to make man- made snow. Temperatures barely dipped that low in the past week.
“It doesn’t make much sense to bring in a crew for an hour if it’s going to melt the next day,” Hess said.
But, after a slow start, things should pick up this weekend, he said. “We have some colder air coming in for Thanksgiving,” he said. “We’re trying to open just as fast as we can.” Thursday’s forecast calls for highs in the mid-30s with lows reaching 20 degrees.
The start of Massanutten’s ski season is usually about Dec. 10. “We’re hoping to beat that, if possible,” he said.
While the ice skating rink opened last week, Hess said the resort would like to get guests in the snow. The first priority, he said, is to get the snow-tubing trails open. “We like to get as much open as possible,” he said. “We’d like to be able to offer them a winter activity ... something to do in the snow.” Once the snow tubing is up and running, the resort will begin to open its 14 ski trails, typically in phases.
Bryce Resort, about 11 miles northwest of Mount Jackson, started making snow about 12 days ago.
“We had a couple good nights, but it’s been warm the last few days,” said General Manager Ryan Locher. “We’ll start up again this week and, hopefully, get up by the weekend. It all depends on Mother Mature.”
He said he hopes to have the beginner area and one of the resort’s eight trails open within a few days.
Additionally, he said, this will be the first year the resort will have ski slopes and the bike park open at the same time.
“We’re capable of running both, so we thought it would be a cool thing to have both activities going at the same time,” Locher said.