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Skiers rejoice as Crystal has earliest opening in years

By Shawn Skager

The Courier-Herald

Skiers flocked to the Crystal Mountain Ski Resort Friday to enjoy more than 30 inches of snow at the top of the mountain, and Crystal's earliest opening in 28 years.

For both skiers and the resort, this year's forecast of a normal winter snowfall for the area bodes well, according to sales and marketing director Tiana Enger. That's especially on the heels of last year's dismal season.

“Our numbers were down about 30 percent and we were open about half of the normal operating days last year,” Enger said. “As far as how bad it really was, I've put it behind me now. We're moving forward.

“All the forecasts for this year have looked really good. We're supposed to have a normal winter for the Northwest, which is about 350 to 400 inches of snow,” she continued. “Right now we've got three feet of snow already. I'm from the area and this is the most snow I've seen this early in November ever, and the most we've had for an opening day.”

Enger said that the early opening may have an impact on staffing levels - with many of the resort's 600 full- and part-time employees just finding out this week that they will be working at Crystal.

“All the managers have already made the decision on who they were going to hire,” Enger said. “All the employees have been on standby and when we made the decision to open, the managers started making phone calls.”

Enger said although many of the resorts employees are not able to begin this early, due to location or other job commitments, skiers shouldn't worry about staffing.

“We've managed to bring up a pretty good start for employees,” she said. “We're going to be down a little bit, but we'll be OK.”

In addition to being able to enjoy the early start, skiers at Crystal can rest assured that all the normal safety and emergency precautions are in place for the opening, Enger said.

“The ski patrol is ready,” she said. “A lot of our full time pro patrolers are local so they are ready. We have a full staff in ski patrol right now”

According to Enger, many of the ski patrol members start in early November had been verifying the safety of the resort for a few days prior to Friday's opening.

“They've inspected the slopes and snow and marked off any obstacles,” she said. “We wouldn't open the resort if it wasn't safe for the skiers.”

Shawn Skager can be reached at sskager@courierherald.com.

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