Opening day at Montage Mountain welcomes many snowboarders and skiers out on trails
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.
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For more pictures of opening day at Montage Mountain visit bit.ly/1UCkGZa