SOUTHINGTON — As the first official day of winter approaches, two local ski areas are preparing for the winter sports season.
Mount Southington Ski Area in Plantsville opened on Thursday. General Manager Jay Dougherty said that opening day saw a “couple hundred” guests take to the slopes.
“Every year the month of December is wishy-washy for us. In southern New England you’re never guaranteed great weather,” he said.
With a recent mix of rain and snow, and temperatures ranging from 30 to 50 degrees, creating prime skiing conditions can be tricky. That makes the job “challenging but exciting,” according to Dougherty.
“The relationship between machine-made snow and natural snow is like taking two mason jars, putting them side by side and filling one with feathers, which represents the natural snow, and one with BBs, which is the snow we make,” Dougherty said.
But he isn’t deterred.
“It looks good so far, the way the weather patterns are set up,” he said. “Here and there we’re getting snow events and not all rain events.”
In order to attract more people to the mountain, Mount Southington also offers live music and an expanded men’s and women’s skiing program. Mount Southington is also looking into creating a program for kids ages 3 to 6.
Powder Ridge Ski Area in Middlefield, which opened on Friday, also relies on snow machines to make up for the lack of natural snow. Powder Ridge is also expanding its offerings.
“It was our vision from the very beginning that we wanted to make sure that everyone in the entire community had somewhere to gather for the winter season,” said Powder Ridge President and CEO Sean Hayes. “We make a lot of snow here in December but we’re not able to utilize it a lot of the time because there isn’t enough for people to ski on.”
So Powder Ridge got creative.
This year, the resort is hosting what Hayes is calling the “prequel” to the soon-to-be-annual New England Winter Festival every weekend in December.
This festival will include all sorts of winter sports as well as carnival rides provided by Marenna Amusements, live music and a space for local artisans and vendors to sell their wares.
“We want this to be a full service resort for everyone who comes to visit,” said Hayes.
Hayes said that in five years Powder Ridge hopes to see as many as 100,000 people during the season.