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After rocky season start, Montana ski areas blessed with 30 plus inches of snow last week

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Posted at 5:31 PM, Feb 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-14 11:05:12-05

RED LODGE — While the ski season did get off to a bit of a rough start, the ski areas of Red Lodge Mountain and Showdown Montana received 30 plus inches of new snow in a series of storms last week, and that has staff at each resort excited for the rest of the season.

“We just did not get that early season snow that all ski areas hope for, which is too bad, but we got some over Christmas. Then these last storms over the last few weeks have really helped. So we’re excited and the skiing has been awesome," said Avery Patrick, marketing director for Showdown on Thursday.

This weekend and last has been some of the best skiing so far this season when it comes to snow conditions, the temperatures on the other hand were not. Both Showdown and Red Lodge have lately seen temps well below zero degrees Fahrenheit. Both ski areas closed for the day on Thursday due to the cold.

“We were at -15 (degrees Fahrenheit) in the base area and a little colder in other places. With the wind chill, that just makes the chair ride a little cold. Safety is number one here and we don’t want to put anybody in a tough situation. (Thursday) would have been an easy day to get frostbite," said Spencer Weimar, assistant general manager at Red Lodge on Friday.

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A thermometer at the base area of Red Lodge Mountain shows sub-zero temperatures on Thursday.

The dump of new snow at Red Lodge allowed staff to open up the extra terrain served by the Cole Creek and Palisades lifts this weekend.

“The storm we had before the cold hit, we received over 30 inches in seven days. It was a good storm for us. Then we’ve been picking up two or three every day, depending how cold it gets in the night, whether it still snows or not. It looks like there’s a couple of opportunities for snow next week as well, which is super exciting," Weimar said.

Skiers and snowboarders this year have adapted to new policies on both mountains to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Both ski areas require masks to be worn by all people while indoors and in the lift line, along with reduced capacity in the ski lodges.

Staff at both ski areas said people have been practicing the new COVID-19 policies.

"We were prepared for the worst I think and people have just been willing to pull together. We’re just so grateful for that and we love our customers and our employees and everybody really just wants to ski and snowboard. They’ve been just awesome,” Patrick said.

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A sign reminding skiers to wear their masks hangs inside a ski lodge at Showdown Montana.

At Red Lodge, people have been similarly excited to ski after being cooped up for a good part of 2020 due to the pandemic.

"Despite low snow to start, there’s been lots of enthusiasm, lots of people wanting to get out and ski, especially pass holders. It’s definitely a part of their weekend routine. Until we had this cold this week, there’s been lots of tailgating in the parking lot and lots of families having fun," Weimer said.

The COVID-19 policies have helped keep staff at Red Lodge safe and the lifts turning for customers Weimar said.

"So far, the cooperation with that has worked really well and we just sent out an email yesterday reminding everybody even with the changes set down by Governor Gianforte, we’re still moving forward with the mask mandate. We got a lot of positive feedback about thanks for doing what we can to keep the season going," Weimar said.

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A group of skiers enjoy a break from shredding at Showdown Montana ski area.

RELATED: Skiers to see massive changes to operations at Red Lodge Mountain to mitigate COVID-19