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Ski season opens in Wisconsin

A snow gun works this week as the sun rises at Tyrol Basin near Mount Horeb. The ski hill is among only a few hills in the state that will be open this weekend.

The single-digit temperatures and low humidity early Friday will help open some Wisconsin ski hills this weekend, but it’s unclear if the weather will hold to allow more skiing a week from now.

Tyrol Basin near Mount Horeb, Alpine Valley near East Troy and the state’s largest ski destination, Granite Peak near Wausau, have all announced they will open this weekend. Not all runs will be open, but there will be just enough snow to allow skiers and snowboarders a chance to scratch their collective winter itch, test out new gear or give old gear a shakedown run.

“I’m just drying out from snow-making as we speak,” Josh Faber, the general manager at Tyrol Basin, said at around noon Friday. “We’ll make snow all day, tonight and into tomorrow. We should be in really good shape.”

The hill is scheduled to be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, but weather will dictate if the hill will be open Nov. 18 and 19. Next week’s high temperatures are predicted to reach into the high 40s and possibly 50s. Overnight lows are expected to remain above freezing Monday through Thursday, but dip into the 20s on Friday and Nov. 18 and 19.

Faber said 25 snow guns have been running constantly since 5 p.m. Thursday and by Saturday are expected to make enough snow for about a 2-foot base on Tobel, a run served by one lift. Temperatures plunged to as low as 6 degrees Friday in some parts of Dane County, according to the National Weather Service.

“When temps are that cold you need to take advantage of it,” Faber said. “People are excited to ski and snowboard.”

Alpine Valley has announced on its website that the resort will be open from 1 to 10 p.m. Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday. Photos on the resort’s Facebook page showed piles of snow with snow guns showering ski runs with snow.

At Granite Peak, where the owners have proposed a massive expansion plan in the coming years, about 25 percent of the resort’s runs on Rib Mountain will be open Saturday only, with the season opener set for Friday, according to the resort’s website.

Devil’s Head Resort in Merrimac, armed with 348 snow guns for its 30 runs and 500 feet of vertical terrain, has announced it will open Nov. 24, while Cascade Mountain near Portage is also hoping to open on that day.

Randy Axelson, Cascade’s marketing manager, said Friday that the ski hill, located along Interstate 90-94, has 200 snow guns, 45 trails and 12 lifts. The rental shop has been remodeled and its rental equipment has been replaced with 2,000 pairs of new skis and 800 new snowboards. About 50 piles of snow, 6 feet tall, have been created, but it won’t be spread out on the hill until just before opening day.

“We’ll let those piles sit so they don’t deteriorate,” Axelson said. “Snow-making has been really good, but when we do open up we want to open up with a good variety of trails.”