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WV's ski areas on track to draw crowds during upcoming three-week peak season

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West Virginia’s 2019-2020 ski season moves into full swing this weekend, with Canaan Valley Resort in Tucker County opening its slopes on Friday, followed on Saturday by Winterplace Ski Resort in Raleigh County.

The two ski areas join Pocahontas County’s Snowshoe Mountain Resort, which debuted on Nov. 22, and will open its Silver Creek section, with intermediate-level trails and night skiing, on Friday. On Saturday, Snowshoe plans to open its Western Territory, featuring the resort’s longest and most challenging trails, Cupp Run and Shay’s Revenge, which drop 1,500 feet in 1.5 miles. Only the top half of Shay’s is expected to be ready for skiers and snowboarders this weekend.

Exceptionally cold temperatures in recent days have allowed resort operators to run their snowmaking gear at maximum efficiency, and add substantial depth to ski runs.

Snowmaking gear at Canaan Valley had been cranking out product for more than 50 consecutive hours on Thursday to add coverage for its Friday the 13th opening, featuring $13 lift tickets.

Snowshoe will host a Shavers Showdown Rail Jam outside the Shavers Center day lodge all day on Saturday and offer free lift tickets and lessons to all ID card-carrying West Virginia residents on Sunday.

Timberline Four Seasons Resort will be closed for the season for the first time since 1985, after filing for bankruptcy in April. The Tucker County ski area was bought last month by the operator of an Indiana ski resort, who plans to reopen for the 2020-2021 season following extensive renovations.

Oglebay resort near Wheeling is planning a Dec. 26 opening date this year for its small but popular skiing and snowboarding operation.

With the state’s three major alpine ski areas open as of this weekend, they are poised to outfit, feed, lodge and sell lift tickets throughout the peak three-week Christmas holiday season.

“The week before Christmas, Christmas week and the week after Christmas contribute up to 35 percent of the various resorts’ yearly revenue,” said Joe Stevens, spokesman for the West Virginia Ski Areas Association.

West Virginia’s ski season has an estimated economic impact of more than $250 million, and makes possible 5,000 mostly seasonal jobs at ski areas and off-slope businesses catering to skiers and snowboarders.

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

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