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Let it snow!

Mt. Holly opens for season

Cam Nickola, a 16-year-old Grand Blanc resident, jumps the A-frame on a snowboard at Mt. Holly, 13536 Dixie Highway. Photo by Susan Bromley. (click for larger version)
December 01, 2010 - Groveland Twp.- On Monday, 4-year-old A.J. Burger of Ortonville had his first skiing lesson.

"That was fun," said A.J. as he came to a stop alongside Ski Instructor Gerry Chalifoux on the bunny hill at Mt. Holly Ski Resort, 13536 Dixie Highway.

Mt. Holly opened for the season Nov. 27 and this week, A.J. wasn't the only one enjoying the snow as dozens of skiiers and snowboarders took to the slopes.

"We come to get away from everything," said Mike Gunnels, a 17-year-old Ortonville resident who was snowboarding with his friend, Matt Ruhle, also of Ortonville. "This is all we like to do. We wait all summer for this. One day I'll move to the Alps so I can snowboard everyday."

For now, he'll have to wait for weather conditions in Michigan to cooperate. Mt. Holly needed the right temperatures to open, but didn't wait for snow— the resort made its own snow for a 16-inch base. General Manager Mark Tibbitts noted while the Farmer's Almanac is saying it will be a good, cold traditional winter he just looks at the forecast for the next week.

"We're 'day at a time' kind of people,'" he said.

While weather conditions can affect the ski resort in an adverse way, the poor economy has actually worked in Mt. Holly's favor. Last year, preseason season pass sales were up by 25 percent, which Tibbits called "huge."

"People are staying home and enjoying more local fun and saving on gas," he said.

The growth rate for snowboarding and skiing is about even now, after snowboarding grew at a rate of about 200 percent (new entries to the sport) for the last three or four years.

While skiing can often be perceived as an expensive sport, Tibbits notes it is not any more cost-prohibitive than other sports. Mt. Holly offers the rental of ski equipment for people interested in trying out the sport and both season passes and day and weekend passes.

Mt. Holly has made several improvements, including a 4,200 square-foot heated paver outdoor patio, a new clock tower entranceway, variable speed drives on two older lifts, and an additional 59,000 square feet of paved parking to fit 300 more vehicles.

Details: 248-634-8269.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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