OTSEGO, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – Skiers and snowboarders traveled to Otsego, Michigan to enjoy the Bittersweet Ski resort as it opened earlier this week – and earlier than normal.
“What an amazing first day we had! The Sun was shining, our skiers and snowboarders were great, our employees happy and things ran very smoothly,” Bittersweet Ski Resort said on Facebook.
Though not the southernmost ski resort, Bittersweet is the 3rd most southern ski resort, and remains to be the only one opening ahead of December.
The trick to opening so early lies in the machines the slopes use to keep snow on the slopes.
“Once we open, we like to stay open through the year,” 20 year Ski Instructor and National Ski Patrol member Dan Hill said. “If you have as many snow guns as we do and you can make a great base, then you can stay open through the warmup.”
The ski resort claims the “Sweet Express,” which is Southwest Michigan’s first detachable high-speed quad, which whisks skiers and riders to the top of the mountain to experience Bittersweet’s 20 runs and more than 100 acres of skiable terrain. The high-speed lift was also in operation on the 2022 opening day.
“The Sweet Express will be running today, and we will work as hard as we can to get more and more runs open as long as the weather is favorable,” the ski resort said on Facebook, “Here’s to an amazing start to the 2022-23 season!”
To help accommodate all the guests of the resort, it has added a second high speed chair lift called the “Snow Flyer” which is the second high speed lift at the resort. After all the safety tests have been completed, the resort expects to open the lift after Thanksgiving.
“The line can run fast, but it’s not going to make the chair come whipping around fast. It detaches, you can sit down and get comfortable and then it connects to the cable. The idea being you can get a lot more skiers up quicker,” Hill said.
The lift was not the only improvement that Bittersweet made. Other improvements to speed up the flow of people, include changes to the equipment rental area and the addition of automatic sliding doors as skiers exit with their equipment.
“Anybody knows that when you are carrying all that equipment for the first time, you are bumping into people and skis are dropping. Having that one door for everybody to flow one way and having it automatic, even though that sounds like a small improvement, that is going to be a very large improvement,” Hill said.
Bittersweet has been running the snow guns constantly to get a good snowpack down, and the grooming trucks also run every night.
Northern Michigan Ski Resort, Boyne Mountain, also plans to open this week – on Thanksgiving Day – after having their snow guns running since two weekends ago.