Archives for posts with tag: snow

With one hard-snow-packed run totaling less than 300 vertical feet, it’s comical that the crowds gliding down the fake snow have been anticipating this unbecoming day for months.

Unlike the mountains of the west, the ski hills in the Midwest do not turn opening weekend into a front page affair.  Most Midwestern hills make their season debut mid-November with one, hike-only run, covered in icy, man-made snow, and littered with miscellaneous park features, and generally only the loyal park rats make it out for the first few open days.  They come in groups, mostly fitted in trendy tight snow pants, coordinating jackets and oversized goggles or sunglasses.  They lug their skis and poles up the couple dozen vertical feet only to take a quick ride down, hit a few features, and avoid the other rats doing the same thing.

Due to lack of elevation and wintery precipitation, the Midwest early season is not determined by total snowfall, but instead by freezing temperatures.  To manufacture snow, resorts need water and cold weather; snow guns are instantly fired up when these two factors are present.  The guns propel fake flakes onto the brown grassy hills. “Our business is very tied to the weather, we’ve had a few cold stretches during November and we’ve taken advantage of them,” said Don McKay, general manager of south-central Wisconsin’s Tyrol Basin Ski and Snowboard Area.

Colin Droster of Madison, Wis. has been anticipating opening days for about eight years and doesn’t mind the faux snow, “it’s better than nothing, plus who can tell the difference after a (snow cat) has groomed it.”

Tyrol tends to be the first Midwest hill to fill a run with snow and park features.  Although McKay says their target-opening day is always the day after Thanksgiving, Tyrol often opens a hike-only run in late October.  This year they opened for the season Nov. 2, “which is pretty early,” said McKay.  From the first Tuesday in November on, Tyrol has sporadically opened their single run and added a run serviced by chairlift, allowing them to open for the season the Friday after Thanksgiving, “prior to the lift being open it was super crowded,” said Droster.  In regard to Tyrol’s ability to fill a few runs with snow and remain open this year, “I’d say things are a little bit better than on track,” said McKay.

This early season, Tyrol was able to build a jump with an eight-foot gap in addition to setting up the usual rails and boxes, “it was radical, first time that I can recall they had a half decent jump set up this early,” said Droster.

Riders flock to make the first tracks of the season at Tyrol Basin from as far south as Chicago, Ill.   Tyrol’s attendance throughout the first few open weeks is “not record breaking, but pretty busy,” said McKay.



The Midwest’s winter ski season has commenced.  Wild Mountain in Taylor’s Falls, Minn. filled a single run top to bottom with snow and a few features!  The hill was open today (10/29/10) from noon-5 p.m. for a decent-sized crowd of ski and snowboard enthusiasts.  Cars began arriving two hours prior to the hill’s opening in anticipation of the season’s first turns.  Snow making at Wild Mountain will not continue tonight but according to their Facebook page they “will be watching, waiting and ready whenever it does get cold.”

Six minutes down the road and across state lines in nearby Dresser, Wis., Trollhaugen also opened one run for the first time this season.  The run held two features and was open  from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.  Other Minnesota and Wisconsin hills in the area plan to open in mid to late November.

Flurries fell Saturday morning in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Get pumped!


Lately, the temps have rarely risen above 60 degrees.  Not only does the crisp air signal the approaching ski season, but this cooler weather also accommodates preseason shredding perfectly.  For the past couple years some of my friends have taken full advantage of the shift in weather by transporting leftover ice shavings from ice rinks to their backyards and skate parks.  At least twice a week they shovel the “snow” into various setups that incorporate anything from homemade rails and boxes to picnic tables and makeshift wall rides.  The only negative would be the massive amount of mud that is sure to cover you by the end of the session.

If this weather stays in check, it’s only a matter of time until the midwestern hills hop onto the preseason wagon.  I’m keeping an eye on Tyrol Basin in Mount Horeb Wis., they usually have their act together by late October.


It’s snowing in Colorado, it has been for a while now.  That’s it; just let the jealousy sink deep…

Now, compose yourself and lets get pro-active about our present situation (which in southeast Minnesota happens to be an overcast 77 degree day).  The early season is the prime time to swoop up all the amazing season pass deals the Midwest has to offer.  Personally, I’ve just finished purchasing my “Welch Village College Pass” for the third year in a row!  This pass is the best deal I’ve ever come across; it’s $99.99 for the entire season and if you purchase pre-Sept. 30 you get $10 credited to your account to use on over-priced chalet food!  Moral of the story, disregard the unusually warm late-September weather, and check out the local hills in your area, most have crazy deals that expire within the next couple of weeks.n1598670135_30050566_6857