By KEVIN ROBERTS
It was a sunny but cold start to the day last Thursday at the Mount Southington Ski Area. The cold allowed for plenty of snowmaking, and the accompanying noise was music to general manager Duane Bass’ ears.
“We kept the guns on until about 10 o’clock this morning,” Bass said.
Those snow guns started around 8 p.m. on Wednesday night, allowing for 16 hours of snowmaking. If 16 hours of snowmaking creates beautiful music to ski area officials, then the arctic blast that hit the area around Thanksgiving was a full-on symphony. Bass is all smiles when it comes to the way this winter has started. Mount Southington opened on Dec. 1, which is 15 days earlier than last year’s opening.
“It’s awesome,” Bass said with a laugh. “It’s always good to open up early.”
Mount Southington was able to open so early because of the cold temperatures that hit the area around Thanksgiving. Go below 28 degrees Fahrenheit and snow can be made. Get down to where the temperatures were around Thanksgiving, and it’s a snowmaker’s delight. Seventeen degrees allows for twice as much snow to be made, Bass said.
“We started making snow on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving around 6 p.m. and stopped on Saturday around 11 a.m.,” Bass said. “That’s a little over 60 hours of straight snowmaking.”
The snow literally piled up, to as high as 12 feet. Mount Southington’s work crew used machines to create a solid base of snow, and it opened at 9 a.m. on Dec. 1. It was open again this past weekend as temperatures again dropped and it was scheduled to be open Tuesday-Friday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.
What helps keep the snow going is behind the scenes. There are of course the snow guns out in the open, but Mount Southington also has new drainage and a pump house. Bass is also excited about the new programs being offered. One of those new programs is Intro to Racing, which takes place on Saturday mornings.
“Intro to Racing is for those who want to try it but don’t want to commit to racing four days a week,” Bass said. “It gets their feet wet to see what it’s all about.”
Under the Intro to Racing program are ski racing, free ride skiing and freestyle snowboarding.
On Wednesday mornings in January and February, the new women’s ski program will take place. Mount Southington advertises it as a chance for women to get out and enjoy skiing while the kids are in school. The program runs from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., then a light lunch is held from 12:30 to 1 p.m. in the Red Barn. The women’s ski program will be held on Jan. 16, 23 and 30, and Feb. 6.
There’s a new mid-week academy for athletes who want extra training in the middle of the week. Also new is masters training, which is designed for more advanced skiers. For those looking to just chill out, there’s the Mountain Room, which will have music on Fridays and Saturdays starting in January.
On the weekend, the outside grill will be open and patrons can use the new large concrete deck. There’s a special demo day on Dec. 30 with Suburban Sports providing equipment to try out on the slopes.
Bass said to always check Mount Southington’s website, www.mountsouthington.com, for more information on programs and events.