By Rachel Holly - For Weekender

Opening day at Montage Mountain welcomes many snowboarders and skiers out on trails

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Olivia Coar 11, of Mt. Cobb tests her skiing on the first day of skiing at Montage Mountain before going down the bigger hills.
Aimee Dilger | Weekender
Denise Evans, Hannah Acevedo and Adam Samitz at Montage. 1/7/2016 Aimee Dilger|Times Leader
Aimee Dilger | Weekender
Tyler Collins works on one of the snow guns at Montage. 1/7/2016 Aimee Dilger|Times Leader
Aimee Dilger | Weekender
Tristan Hunter jumps a small snow pile at Montage Mountain on Jan. 7, opening day of the ski slopes.
Aimee Dilger | Weekender
Chris Chudoba fixes the binding on his snowboard at Montage Mountain on Jan. 7.
Aimee Dilger | Weekender
Neil Kaiser makes his way down the Cannonball Hill at Montage Mountain on Jan. 7, opening day of the ski slopes.
Aimee Dilger | Weekender
Joe Murray makes his way down the hill at Montage Mountain on Jan. 7, opening day of the ski slopes.
Aimee Dilger | Weekender
Colin and Nick Yuhas take a break before heading down the Cannonball trail at Montage Montage Jan. 7, the opening day of the ski slopes.
Aimee Dilger | Weekender
A skier gets air off a small snow mound on opening day at Montage Mountain.
Aimee Dilger | Weekender
Olivia Coar, 11, rides the ski lift to the top of the bunny hill at Montage Mountain.
Jaron Williams makes his first run of the day at Montage Mountain on Jan. 7.
Aimee Dilger | Weekender
Hannah Acevedo and Adam Samitz of Old Forge make their way down the mountain at Montage Mountain on Jan.7.
Aimee Dilger | Weekender
A couple makes their way up the mountain by ski lift on Jan. 7 at Montage Mountain.
Aimee Dilger | Weekender
Nico Amity and John Borgia on opening day at Montage Mountain.
Aimee Dilger | Weekender
Skiers chat at the top of the hill on the first day of skiing at Montage. 1/7/2016 Aimee Dilger|Times Leader
Aimee Dilger | Weekender

SCRANTON — Despite Mother Nature’s best efforts this winter, the staff at Montage Mountain couldn’t wait any longer. Let there be snow … boarding and skiing.

Thursday, Jan. 7, saw Montage Mountain’s opening day for the 2016 ski and snowboarding season. Battling against El Niño’s unseasonably warm presence this winter, staff at Montage Mountain said they had to wait a little longer than usual to open the slopes.

“We typically like to open the week before the holiday season, ideally,” said Tyler Crawford, director of Front End Operations at Montage Mountain. “But this isn’t anything we haven’t dealt with before. Warm winters happen sometimes.”

Even with the later-than-average start, the folks at Montage promise to make 2016 one of the biggest, best seasons yet.

This week’s opening coincides with Pennsylvania’s statewide Learn to Ski and Snowboard month, and Montage is there to help everyone get out on the slopes.

“We’re offering half price lessons all month long, as well as free lessons for beginners on Monday the 11th and Wednesday the 13th,” said Director of Sales and Marketing Christina Galdieri. “It’s wonderful to get outside and enjoy the winter weather and learn a new lifelong hobby.”

The slopes were definitely beckoning for many, even on a typical Thursday afternoon. Montage kicked off the season at noon, however the crowds picked up considerably after 4 p.m. — after school and most jobs let out.

“It’s definitely been a sizeable crowd, especially for a Thursday,” Galdieri said.

By 3 p.m., The Lodge was a flurry of busy skiers and snowboarders funneling in and out. Even though they only had three slopes in operation, the majority of visitors definitely got a full day out in the snow.

“I’ve been out since 1 p.m.,” said Joey Samuels of Catawissa.

He was taking a break from his snowboard and grabbing a beer in The Lodge.

“It’s been a pretty good day so far. The crowds aren’t too heavy and even with the warm weather, the snow is pretty good,” Samuels said.

The only complaint seemed to go hand in hand with the challenge of the warm weather.

“It’s pretty icy out there,” said Mike Forty, of Danville. “The problem when it’s warm is that the snow will constantly melt and refreeze as ice, which makes it slick and chunky and hard to maneuver. I sharpened the edges on my board so I could cut in easier.”

Motioning out the lodge’s expansive windows to the slopes outside, Forty added: “We could really use some natural snow. Nothing beats powder.”

Officials at Montage Mountain said they promise to heat things up over the next few weeks; kicking the winter sports haven into full gear before February comes around.

Before the end of January, up to 20 lanes of snow tubing will be up and running for the public to use. This season will also mark the third season for airboarding, one of the newest winter sports to come to the mountain.

Similar to a street luge, riders who want to give airboarding a try can expect to get on a sled with rails, much like a blow-up boogie board. They then maneuver down the mountain laying on their stomachs, face first. Montage offers introductory courses, but it’s not like most other winter sports — there’s barely a learning curve, Montage staff said.

“After an hour or two of instruction, you’ll already be an intermediate airboarder,” said Crawford. “It’s an incredibly fun experience.”

Montage Mountain staff said overall, they expect the 2016 season at the mountain to be cooler than ever, regardless of the forecast.

For more pictures of opening day at Montage Mountain visit bit.ly/1UCkGZa

Reach the arts and entertainment department at [email protected]

Opening day of the slopes saw many snowboarders and skiers out on trails

By Rachel Holly

For Weekender

Olivia Coar 11, of Mt. Cobb tests her skiing on the first day of skiing at Montage Mountain before going down the bigger hills.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_TTL010716ski1.jpgOlivia Coar 11, of Mt. Cobb tests her skiing on the first day of skiing at Montage Mountain before going down the bigger hills. Aimee Dilger | Weekender

Denise Evans, Hannah Acevedo and Adam Samitz at Montage. 1/7/2016 Aimee Dilger|Times Leader
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_TTL010816ski10.jpgDenise Evans, Hannah Acevedo and Adam Samitz at Montage. 1/7/2016 Aimee Dilger|Times Leader Aimee Dilger | Weekender

Tyler Collins works on one of the snow guns at Montage. 1/7/2016 Aimee Dilger|Times Leader
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_TTL010816ski11.jpgTyler Collins works on one of the snow guns at Montage. 1/7/2016 Aimee Dilger|Times Leader Aimee Dilger | Weekender

Tristan Hunter jumps a small snow pile at Montage Mountain on Jan. 7, opening day of the ski slopes.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_TTL010816ski12.jpgTristan Hunter jumps a small snow pile at Montage Mountain on Jan. 7, opening day of the ski slopes. Aimee Dilger | Weekender

Chris Chudoba fixes the binding on his snowboard at Montage Mountain on Jan. 7.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_TTL010816ski13.jpgChris Chudoba fixes the binding on his snowboard at Montage Mountain on Jan. 7. Aimee Dilger | Weekender

Neil Kaiser makes his way down the Cannonball Hill at Montage Mountain on Jan. 7, opening day of the ski slopes.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_TTL010816ski14.jpgNeil Kaiser makes his way down the Cannonball Hill at Montage Mountain on Jan. 7, opening day of the ski slopes. Aimee Dilger | Weekender

Joe Murray makes his way down the hill at Montage Mountain on Jan. 7, opening day of the ski slopes.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_TTL010816ski15.jpgJoe Murray makes his way down the hill at Montage Mountain on Jan. 7, opening day of the ski slopes. Aimee Dilger | Weekender

Colin and Nick Yuhas take a break before heading down the Cannonball trail at Montage Montage Jan. 7, the opening day of the ski slopes.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_TTL010816ski2.jpgColin and Nick Yuhas take a break before heading down the Cannonball trail at Montage Montage Jan. 7, the opening day of the ski slopes. Aimee Dilger | Weekender

A skier gets air off a small snow mound on opening day at Montage Mountain.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_TTL010816ski3.jpgA skier gets air off a small snow mound on opening day at Montage Mountain. Aimee Dilger | Weekender

Olivia Coar, 11, rides the ski lift to the top of the bunny hill at Montage Mountain.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_TTL010816ski4.jpgOlivia Coar, 11, rides the ski lift to the top of the bunny hill at Montage Mountain. Aimee Dilger | Weekender

Jaron Williams makes his first run of the day at Montage Mountain on Jan. 7.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_TTL010816ski5.jpgJaron Williams makes his first run of the day at Montage Mountain on Jan. 7. Aimee Dilger | Weekender

Hannah Acevedo and Adam Samitz of Old Forge make their way down the mountain at Montage Mountain on Jan.7.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_TTL010816ski6.jpgHannah Acevedo and Adam Samitz of Old Forge make their way down the mountain at Montage Mountain on Jan.7. Aimee Dilger | Weekender

A couple makes their way up the mountain by ski lift on Jan. 7 at Montage Mountain.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_TTL010816ski7.jpgA couple makes their way up the mountain by ski lift on Jan. 7 at Montage Mountain. Aimee Dilger | Weekender

Nico Amity and John Borgia on opening day at Montage Mountain.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_TTL010816ski8.jpgNico Amity and John Borgia on opening day at Montage Mountain. Aimee Dilger | Weekender

Skiers chat at the top of the hill on the first day of skiing at Montage. 1/7/2016 Aimee Dilger|Times Leader
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_TTL010816ski9.jpgSkiers chat at the top of the hill on the first day of skiing at Montage. 1/7/2016 Aimee Dilger|Times Leader Aimee Dilger | Weekender
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Reach the arts and entertainment department at [email protected]

For more pictures of opening day at Montage Mountain visit bit.ly/1UCkGZa