By Rachel Lake (RLake@wsbt.com)
8:36 AM EST, December 31, 2012
JONES, Mich. – Swiss Valley in Jones, Michigan finally opened Sunday for the first time this ski season.
The season got off to a late start because of Mother Nature's lack of cooperation. Swiss Valley normally opens the second weekend of December, but skiers and snowboarders were just happy to finally be out on the slopes on a bright, sunny day.
It's the day skiers have been waiting for all winter long.
"We've been checking the website every day all over Christmas break just waiting for the snow to come and waiting for the doors to open," said skier Lisa Bainbridge.
Finally, the doors at Swiss Valley have opened, giving Bainbridge, who's been skiing since she was little, the chance to teach her daughter the sport. "She loves it just as much as I did," said Bainbridge.
About 1,500 skiers and snowboarders flocked to Swiss Valley Sunday, anxious to fasten their boots and hit the slopes. "Just like challenging ourselves to do new things on jumps and rails and stuff and just trying to get better," said snowboarder Alex Newman.
Swiss Valley opened about two weeks late because the temperatures weren't cold enough to make snow.
"It feels like we've been waiting on winter for two years," said Marketing Director Jamie Stafne.
But winter has arrived and for the past few days, workers have been making snow, building up a base that's as thick as 24 inches in some spots. They'll continue making snow until the base reaches three feet.
"It's nice when we get the assist from Mother Nature, but it's not necessary," said Stafne.
While the slow start to the season cuts into profits, Stafne says they'll make it up. "We've had seasons where we had a late start or a mild beginning and the season ended up being one of our best because we got just the right amount of snow in the right places at the right times and people have come out and had a great time."
A great time... that makes it worth the wait.
"Of course the sport of it is just fun. I think it's friendly; it reminds you of home, growing up, and we enjoy being outside," said Bainbridge.
Swiss Valley will be open until the second or third week in March, weather permitting. And get this -- you can even ski into the new year for New Years Eve. They'll be open all day Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. They'll close for two hours and then reopen from 7 in the evening to 1 a.m. on New Year’s Day.
Copyright © 2013, WSBT-TV