GIRDWOOD, Alaska—Wednesday was the day skiers and snowboarders in Southcentral Alaska have long been waiting for -- opening day at Alyeska Ski Area. Early-season snow and colder temperatures meant snow from top to bottom on Mount Alyeska.
“Opening day is always awesome when we are open from top to bottom,” said Brian Burnett, the resort's mountain services manager. “We may not be open from side to side, but when we've got the top of Chair 6 to the base of Chair 4 accessible, Mother Nature came in and really blessed us with a good early snowfall.”
The resort was open top to bottom, but on opening day the bottom of the mountain was seeing rain. Skiers and snowboarders didn't seem to mind too much; they focused on the higher lifts where the rain turned into snow.
"It's OK, the weather's not bad. Visibility's not the greatest. Up top is OK but down low you get wet with all the rain," said skier Wayne Wilson. "I'm staying up here so I can stay dry."
For students, the rainy day -- and the two preceding it -- meant a day out of school, and an opportunity to hit the slopes on opening day without being marked absent. Most of the students out skiing said they would have been on the slopes anyway.
"Yeah, we'd be here," said skier Jon Wenger.
"I'm so excited (to not have school)," Taylor Anderson, a snowboarder said.
"We were kind of stoked for this all year," Anderson's boarding partner, Ingrid Kelly, said.
Most of the outlying ski areas and terrain sections are still closed because there's not enough snow.
"Not all the terrain is good to ski yet," said Tucker Jonas, Wenger's skiing partner.
"Most of it for us is just going real fast and hitting little jumps if we can," Wenger added. Even with the rain, he said, "it still beats a day at school."
Contact Kortnie Westfall at email@example.com