Ober Gatlinburg to open slopes to skiers on Sunday

Ober Gatlinburg to open slopes to skiers on Sunday

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By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

GATLINBURG (WATE) - Just in time for the official start of winter, Ober Gatlinburg announced Friday that it will open over the weekend for skiing.

Tennessee's only ski resort will open Sunday morning, weather permitting.

"This is like an early Christmas present from Mother Nature to be able to finally get some cold air," said John Cossaboon, director of Ober Gatlinburg.

Once temperatures dropped below freezing Thursday night, the ski resort wasted no time turning the slopes into a winter wonderland.

"We have every gun blasting that we can, trying to get as much snow down as possible in this little, narrow cold window that we have," Cossaboon said.

With the mild winter so far, Ober Gatlinburg was forced to delay opening day.

"Ober Gatlinburg usually opens around the 10th of December so we're definitely a couple weeks later than our average," Cossaboon said.

But last year they weren't able to open until January, so already Cossaboon says things are looking better for business.

"We earn a significant amount of our income for the year through the skiing and snowboarding, so we're as anxious to get it started as anybody else is."

For skiers and snowboarders to hit the slopes by Sunday, it all depends on two things: Mother Nature and the giant snow guns.

"On average, we can do about two to four inches of snow in an hour," he said.

Cossaboon said they need between six and 12 inches of snow to open the four main slopes. But a major factor is this weekend's winds, which are blowing much of the freshly made snow into the nearby woods.

The director is confident.

"If we can have the consistent cold weather, we know we'll have to shut down tomorrow afternoon, but tomorrow evening temperatures look good and they'll start snow making back up and I think were going to make it," Cossaboon explained with confidence. "It's finally winter in the Smokies!"

If the weather holds, they plan to open at 9 a.m. on Sunday. For full hours and information on season passes, check out their website.

You can view the slopes and the snow by checking out Ober Gatlinburg's webcam.

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