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.
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, benefitting more businesses than the resorts.
Sugar Mountain Resort opened earliest on Nov. 9, followed by Appalachian Ski Mtn. on Nov. 15. Beech Mountain Resort Marketing Director Talia Freeman said the resort is charging weekday prices through Dec. 13.
Beech Mountain recently made major upgrades to its snowmaking equipment, installing 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.
Appalachian Ski Mtn. has had its second-earliest opening in its history and Sugar Mountain Resort is celebrating its 50th year. 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.
The ski resorts enjoyed exceptionally long seasons last year. Appalachian Ski Mtn. owner Brad Moretz said the resort has had a good start, and opening two weeks before Thanksgiving is an economic boon for ASM.
“It gives people a whole lot of notice to make plans, so it’s a beautiful thing,” Moretz said. “It’s like a bonus for us. Having Thanksgiving just makes our season a little better.”
Before the opening of the season at Beech, Freeman said the resort wanted to feel comfortable with the conditions and that a good product was on the slopes for customers.
Each resort has events for the coming season. Regular concerts at Beech, Sugar’s annual SugarFest in mid-December, specials and more. More information on each resort and all of the happenings for the season can be found on their respective websites.