Skiers, snowboarders flock to Ober Gatlinburg slopes for season opener

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GATLINBURG (WATE) – Skiiers and snowboarders were able to slice through the snow for the first time this season at Ober Gatlinburg on Friday.Previous story:Ober Gatlinburg to reopen Aerial Tramway

Slopes officially opened at 9 a.m. and it was a day many had been looking forward to.

“It’s such a great surprise. The weather is perfect for the snow. There’s nothing better than this,” said Chad House of Memphis.

“Everyone is out here having a great time skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing. The mountain coaster is open. The ice rink is open. Seems like some pretty good vibes in the air,” added Kate Barido with Ober Gatlinburg.

Once the utilities were restored after the wildfire, it was time to make the mountain look snow-covered.

“We made some snow last weekend. We lost quite a bit of it over this warm weekend and the rain, however. We made snow from 5 a.m. this morning yesterday until 8 in the morning today,” said Barido.

As of Friday there were about 20 inches covering the mountain. House says he and his friends kept tabs on the snow-making thanks to Ober’s webcam.

“We’ve been watching it and it’s amazing how they can make as much as beautiful as it is, in a couple weeks,” he said.

During the week of waiting, staff used that time to transition from summer/fall to winter. Opening day is a moving target each year.

“Basically it’s up to mother nature – whenever the weather decides it can open. We need to have three to four days of good solid colder temperatures and lower humidity,” said Barido.

Thankfully that formula came together.

“We love playing in the snow and so when the season ends in March, we have fun stuff we do throughout the summer. But when the season ends in March, we count down the days until it opens in December. So we’re excited to be out here,” said Christine Martin of Grainger County.

Slope hours are Monday through Thursday noon to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Snow Tubing resumes Monday, December 12 at 11 a.m.

Ober Gatlinburg would like to thank all of the firefighters, first responders, disaster relief workers, city employees, utility departments and volunteers who continue to work tirelessly to save our town. They say the outpouring of relief and support the community has received is unprecedented and appreciated.

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