Mount Spokane Ski Area is preparing for a fresh start.
A lawsuit contesting the transfer of mountain operations to a new group has been settled.
Mount Spokane 2000, the nonprofit group that will run the state-owned mountain for the next 20 years, has taken over operations from Mount Spokane Skiing Corp., which ran the ski hill since 1976.
One of Mount Spokane 2000’s first acts was to hire General Manager Kirk Duncan. The veteran ski area consultant started Sept. 1 and is moving fast to prepare the facility for opening day.
The first few inches of snow have already fallen on the small mountain north of Spokane, and the ski season has been set for Thanksgiving through April.
Last year’s abbreviated season - which ended in March - frustrated many skiers who still wanted to take advantage of the abundant snowfall.
Under Duncan’s direction, skiers will see an increased emphasis on grooming, night lighting and guest services.
Two new snowcats have been purchased, which will increase the mountain’s grooming ability.
Already 300 percent more brush has been cut this year compared with last year, said Woody Hoye, manager of base operations.
Night lighting has been assessed, and Duncan estimates that, with repairs and additions, capacity will increase by 40 percent.
Also, the cafeteria menu has been expanded, and the seating area will be more customer-friendly.
Season pass tickets prices did go up by $50, but the mountain is extending discounts in other areas, such as family passes.
Duncan also plans to add more workers to the payroll, providing additional staffers to attend to customers’ needs.
The mountain is adding day care this year, to be called SnoPlay, and is creating a terrain park - an area with jumps and other obstacles for directed at attracted more young skiers.
Workers also are scrambling to open the second of the mountain’s two lodges, which has been open only sporadically in recent years.
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MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: INFORMATION Mount Spokane is about 45 minutes north of Spokane. Tickets: adults $25; students and seniors $22; juniors $19; under 7 free; 70 and above $5; weekday discounts. Day care: available for children between the ages of 2 and 6; prices to be announced. Lessons: group lesson, three hours $28; private lesson $35 per hour. Nordic: The state park, at (509) 238-4025, has groomed cross-country trails operated by Spokane County Parks and Recreation; 456-4730. Phone: (509) 238-2220. Snow phone: (509) 443-1397. Fax: (509) 238-6373. Web site: mtspokane.com; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.