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Timberline bought by Indiana ski area operator for $2.2 million

Skiing and snowboarding are expected to return to the Tucker County slopes formerly operated by Timberline Four Seasons Resort for the 2020-21 season, after the bankrupt ski area’s sale to the owner of Perfect North Slopes, near Lawrenceburg, Indiana.

Perfect North Slopes, Inc., was actually the second-highest bidder in a U.S. Bankruptcy Court-authorized auction held Tuesday in Philadelphia, the results of which were announced Wednesday. But the high bidder, First Asset Holding LLC, agreed to assign its winning bid of $2.2 million to Perfect North Slopes in exchange for $30,000 in cash.

The winning bid slightly exceeds the $2.12 million in claims filed against Timberline to date in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Family owned Timberline abruptly ended its 2018-19 ski season in February, after experiencing difficulties with snowmaking, chairlifts, financing and litigation regarding the water and sewer system it operated. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April.

The resort, known by its fans for its challenging ski terrain, nearly 1,000 feet of vertical drop, glade skiing and sweeping views from its 4,268-foot summit, had been operated by the Reichle family since January 1987.

Assuming that closing on the sale proceeds as planned, “having Perfect North Slopes operating Timberline is great news for skiers and snowboarders and great news for West Virginia’s ski industry,” said Joe Stevens, director of the West Virginia Ski Areas Association. “It’s a top-notch, reputable organization that’s done an outstanding job at developing its ski area in southeastern Indiana, and I look forward to working with them to grow their West Virginia ski operation.”

Despite new ownership, a backlog of maintenance, infrastructure, legal and regulatory work are expected to keep the former Timberline resort from opening for the 2019-2020 ski season.

Perfect North Slopes ski area began operating in 1980, on the farm of Clyde and Ella Mae Perfect outside Lawrenceburg. After an area university student told them he had identified their land as the state’s best potential ski terrain, they decided give the notion a try, according to an article in Travel Indiana.

They opened a portion of their property to skiing in 1980, starting with a series of surface lifts — rope tows and T-bars. The ski area remains a family operated enterprise, and has grown to include 21 trails, five chairlifts, six surface lifts and 245 snow guns, all within an hour’s drive of Cincinnati.

The couple’s son, Chip, an Indiana state senator and former president of the Midwest Ski Areas Association, is now general manager of Perfect North Slopes and has been a long-time admirer of the Timberline property, he told website Ski Southeast on Wednesday.

“I’ve had my eye on Timberline for 15 or 20 years and I’ve always sort of been envious of its terrain,” he said. “It’s just a stunning piece of property and has so much potential.”

But the Timberline property is not without its challenges, Perfect told the regional ski website. “It’s going to take some time to overcome those obstacles,” he said, making the 2020-21 ski season the projected re-opening date for the ski area under Perfect North Slopes ownership.

The goal for the new management team of the former Timberline resort, he said, is “to make it the fabulous ski area that is has the potential to be.”

Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelhammer@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5169 or follow

@rsteelhammer on Twitter.

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