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BIWABIK - Cloudy skies, fog and a light mist highlighted the start of the ski and snowboard opener at area ski resorts, but that didn't stop people from flocking to the hills to get in their first runs of the season.
"We got the snow that we wanted and so that came down last week and it was really nice treat I guess for all the outdoors people up here. It's always nice to have some snow on the ground," said Drew Johnson, a freshman at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
"It's exciting. We wait for it all year. It's a very short season. We only have four months and this is our primary source of business so when opening day comes everybody in the facility is excited, not to mention all of our guests," said Renee Mattson, executive director at Spirit Mountain.
The 2011–2012 winter season wasn't kind for Northland ski resorts and users, as temperatures made snow making a constant challenge.
"When the weather is warm, above 30 degrees it's very tough to make snow so we like the weather in the teens," said Linda Johnson, managing director at Giants Ridge.
Spirit Mountain has three top–to–bottom runs currently open, while Giants Ridge starts with five of its 35 runs ready to go, along with 52 kilometers of Nordic trails paved and primed for high school and college teams itching to get a jump start on their season.
"If you want to get out here early and succeed you're going to want to get out here early and get your base in so you can get a lot of skiing in and get your muscles back into the flow of things," said Sam Johnson, a member of the Mesabi East/Virginia/Eveleth-Gilbert Nordic Ski Team.
Both ski resorts will introduce new features this year.
Spirit Mountain has installed a faster spirit express lift and Giants Ridge is looking to offer more terrain features.
But, all of that could be forgotten if this winter turns out to be more like last year's.
Johnson said, "Hopefully, spring will come in April, not March. So, again we'll do our best to keep the snow as long as we can and keep our skiers happy."