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Marble Mountain opens for ski season after big snowfall in western Newfoundland

Both Marble Mountain and White Hills Ski Resort will remain closed this weekend with sights set on next week as a possible start date to the season.  (Colleen Connors/CBC - image credit)
Both Marble Mountain and White Hills Ski Resort will remain closed this weekend with sights set on next week as a possible start date to the season. (Colleen Connors/CBC - image credit)
Both Marble Mountain and White Hills Ski Resort will remain closed this weekend with sights set on next week as a possible start date to the season.
Both Marble Mountain and White Hills Ski Resort will remain closed this weekend with sights set on next week as a possible start date to the season.

Marble Mountain, as seen in this file photo, reopened Saturday. General manager Richard Wells says this week's snowfall improved conditions at the ski hill. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

While snow storms aren't always good news, the storm that hit the west coast of Newfoundland this week gave skiers and snowboarders a reason to smile: Marble Mountain has reopened for the season.

"A lot of smiling people out there today," said general manager Richard Wells on Saturday morning. "Lots of hoots and hollers and high fives and people having so much fun."

Wells had just finished up a run on the hill himself, as he helped ski patrol set up the terrain.

"It took a lot of the air out of the snow and my legs are good and tired right now," he said.

The provincial government-owned ski resort near Corner Brook had originally been slated to open on Thursday, but the opening was delayed due to the snowstorm. However, Wells said the snow also enabled them to open up more of the hill than previously planned.

"The irony of this situation is it brought significant snowfall to the west coast and we were able to open the Lightning Express," Wells said.

"Nine a.m. was our first chair, and there's significantly more powder terrain available for skiers and riders than we first anticipated this time last week."

As for how the opening date compares to last year, Wells says though the start is technically later, it is also an improvement.

"Last year, we actually opened on Jan. 11 on the lower mountain terrain only, which is fed by the Newfie Bullet chair lift," Wells said.

When the mountain did open this year, they were able to open trails much further up the slope.

"We're roughly a week behind," Wells said. "But we are able to ski 1,700 feet from the top, which is a significant upgrade in comparison to this time last year."

Marble Mountain General Manager Richard Wells says plans are in place to have all three lifts operational in the coming weeks.
Marble Mountain General Manager Richard Wells says plans are in place to have all three lifts operational in the coming weeks.

Wells says it's great to have people back at the ski resort. (Troy Turner/CBC)

Opening day brought out a large crowd of patrons for the ski hill, even before noon.

"There's certainly over 500 people on the mountain right now," Wells said. "Going into this afternoon, I expect that to pick up."

"When they get into that ungroomed terrain and the fresh powder, certainly some really good feelings there on opening day."

This season, the Black Mariah lift will be fully operational for the first time in five years. As well, Marble Mountain has some new features for skiers and snowboarders to enjoy.

"On the east side of the mountain, fed off of Country Road, we've got two new trails," Wells said.

"One is a gladed trail through the birch tree stand and then the other is where we opened up the old power line," he said. "I've also got another new trail off Knute Chute here on the west side of the mountain."

In the weeks to come, skiers can also expect a new boardercross-race style course.

"While it's not set up at the moment, we're going to be pumping our snowmaking infrastructure into that here in the next couple of days and weeks," said Wells.

Additionally, night riding along with events like the Winter Carnival and Jibfest are set for February. Wells said there's always activities for people that don't want to ski too.

"We do have some music playing in the the Knotty Pine Lodge, so we're expecting a busy afternoon here," Wells said. "Whether it's on the mountain or in the lodge, we're always having fun."

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