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Warm Temps Delay Great Bear Opener

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The calendar says Monday is December 3rd. But, if you've been outside at all in South Dakota you wouldn't be able to tell. The days with temperatures in the 50's and even the 60's have delayed the opening to Sioux Falls only ski hill.

Great Bear Ski Valley sits soggy and spotted with patches of snow. Skiers and snowboarders are ready for the chairlift to start moving and for the season to get under way.   

“We all enjoy the nice weather but at the same time we need to get the hill open. We've got a lot of season pass holders that are anxious to get on the hill and make some turns and grind some rails,” said Great Bear General Manager Dan Grider.

Crews take the opportunity to fix the chairlift ramp at the top of the hill that will soon be buried in the white stuff.

With just as much grass as snow, officials said it would have been a challenge to open this past weekend.      

“We maybe could have opened something up this past weekend but, with the warm temperatures and the wind, we really lose the snow in a hurry then. So, we just decided to leave it in piles and wait for the next cold break,” said Grider.

Crews were making snow at Great Bear in November. But, now with a second warm start to December in a row, they watch some of their hard work melt away.    

“It's expensive to make snow: labor, power, water. So, you're kind of seeing some dollars roll down the hill. But, that's apart of the game and that's why we start making snow as soon as we can,” said Grider.

But the season is still young for Great Bear. They say all they'll need to open some trails is about a day and a half of cold air.

“We're trying to be patient. That's all we can do. And when it's time to make snow, we're definitely going to,” said Grider.

The slopes at great bear are only partially covered but with a little time and a little luck officials at the ski hill hope to be fully operational in a few weeks.

Great Bear opened around December 10th last year and about 10 years ago the ski hill opened two days after Christmas.
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