Big Bear Ski Areas opened on Friday, marking the start of the ski season, but there are some changes.
Nighttime temperatures eventually got cold enough to ignite the snow machines.
Skiers and snowboarders say that while the snow is unnatural, it is good enough.
“We were so excited. We were talking about it on the ride. We woke up at 5 am from Los Angeles and got up just in time for class. It was awesome. The weather is perfect,” he said. LA resident Liisa Jackson said.
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On Friday, seven pistes and four chairlifts were open.
“We want to let people know that we have limited trails, which means you have to be careful when you are on the trails. It could be a bit more crowded than it would be when we have more open ground,” Justin Kanton of Bear Mountain Resorts mentioned.
Last winter, the pandemic limited daily capacity due to social distancing.
This winter, changes have been made to prevent the ski lifts from being too crowded.
Skiers are given a ticket card which beeps them through a gate.
“You don’t have to stop and scan your badge. You literally put it in your pocket and it’s also a lot faster. The line was a lot faster,” said Kimberly Villegas, a resident of San Diego.
Neighboring businesses are also reaping the financial rewards of the opening day, including the Copper Q coffee.
“This means that for the next few months, as long as they are open, we will have a lot of business to continue,” said manager Loralye Burger.
Burger says the pandemic and drought have taken a heavy toll on small businesses in the region.
“You know we’ve lost a few restaurants in the village due to Covid, so it’s good to see people coming back and having fun again,” she said.
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Even though the drive is long, people on the trails say that every mile is worth it.
“Like once you get here you remember how fun it is and how happy you are to be here,” Jackson said.
If you plan to come, the stations are open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends.