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Groomers Busy Getting Lutsen Slopes Ready for Two More Weekends

Updated: 04/23/2014 6:33 PM
Created: 04/23/2014 4:51 PM WDIO.com
By: Maarja Anderson

At first, the slopes at Lutsen Mountains Ski Resort look quiet, perhaps closed for the season. But then a groomer can be heard high up on the hill, preparing the slopes for a record-late season.

"We've never had the lifts spinning in May for skiing so it's exciting," said marketing director, Jim Vick.

Thanks to the more than 13 feet of snow from Mother Nature, the groomers have been storing all the extra snow they can. The ski resort has plans to stay open until May 4.

"It's actually been an easy winter with all the snow we had to do a lot less pushing and moving of snow than normal years," said Jeff Ylatupa, maintenance supervisor on the slopes.

Now that it is spring they have a lot of work to do.

"Even though we are only open during the weekends there is still some constant work during the week," said Vick.

The slopes closed down during the week on April 6. Now, they are open weekend to weekend.

Vick said every night the snow freezes and then every day the snow melts, so the groomers are constantly at work, turning the snow to get the slopes ready for Saturday.

Over the long winter, the groomers have been creating stock piles of extra snow. The piles aren't literal piles of snow, but rather part of the slope.

"You have no idea that you are skiing on 15 or 20 feet of snow," said Vick.

When they need more snow, they just put the groomer's blade down on the slope, digging a trench from the slope and moving the snow.

They may be celebrating a record-late season, but how is the season shaping up overall at Lutsen?

"On the days we were getting good snow the skiing was awesome this winter but as everyone knows there were plenty of cold days," said Vick.

He said, however, an exceptional March and April are making up for a very cold January and February.

Now going into May, the ski season is overflowing into another North Shore attraction: waterfall season.

"You get two-for-one and actually along the shore the hiking trails are starting to be clear of snow, too," Vick explained. 

For the next two weekends, Lutsen will have Eagle Mountain open with one lift running. Skiers can still hit about 15 runs.

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MN AREAS AFFECTED: Koochiching; St. Louis
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