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Mon., March 28, 2011, 1:47 p.m.

Montana ski areas delay closures, cite good snow

SKI RESORTS -- While many ski and snowboard resorts will close their lifts on April 10,  some Montana ski areas are delaying closing dates by several weeks -- perhaps April 17 -- because the late-season snow is fabulous -- and skiers and snowboarders haven't lost interest.

Posted last day of operations in this region:

49 Degrees North -- April 10.

Mt. Spokane -- April 10.

Silver Mountain -- Splash Down rail jam is April 9. No firm word on season closing.

Lookout Pass -- April 10 is Slush Cup.

Schweitzer -- April 10.

“I don’t think we’ve gotten to the corn-snow stage yet,” said Montana Snowbowl owner Brad Morris, referring to a late-season type of snow that looks like corn kernels. “The temperatures are dropping below freezing every night. We’ve gotten some spring days, but it’s still winter here.”

Snowbowl closed last year with 66 inches of snow at the summit. This year, the summit has about 120 inches, Morris said.

He said the area was staying open until April 17 and was within a few thousand of hitting its record for skier visits during a season.

Read on for more of an Associated Press story about Montana ski resorts:

Other ski areas planning to stay open until April 10 include Lost Trail Powder Mountain, Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area, Whitefish Mountain, and possibly Discovery Ski Area. Ski areas aiming to close April 24 are Big Sky Ski Resort and Moonlight Basin.

“It’s turning out to be one of the best seasons that Lookout has ever had,” Phil Edholm, chief executive at Lookout Pass, told the Missoulian.

He said the ski area was within 5 percent of its record number of skier visits set four years ago, a result of more than 400 inches of snow at the area this year.

Still, ski areas expect spring conditions to arrive before the season ends.

“People just want to celebrate being outdoors and enjoying the snow but not wrapping up mid-winter style,” said Will Moss, media director for Lost Trail. “It’s hard to beat a good snow day, but when the conditions are right in the spring, it can be just as much fun.”

Ski areas were planning to have end-of-season bashes with special events that will likely draw more customers. Those range from barbecues, beach parties, live music, and the popular pond skimming, where skiers or snowboarders attempt to skim across open water.

"The whole point of pond skimming is to totally wipe out,” Moss said.

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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