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Holiday Valley opening Friday

The region’s ski areas are eager for their business to go downhill – in a good way.

Holiday Valley in Ellicottville will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday for a “preview weekend,” then will close for a few days and reopen for the season starting Nov. 28. Holiday Valley has received more than 20 inches of snow since last Friday.

The resort will have two lifts running from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and from 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, serving four slopes or more, depending on natural snowfall and snow-making progress.

Jane Eshbaugh, director of marketing, said the resort has received a flurry of interest since announcing the “preview” dates. “People are calling right and left. They’re just trying to figure out how to get here.”

In the past 20 years, this will be only the third time Holiday Valley has opened for skiing before Thanksgiving, she said. This year, the conditions were favorable: cold weather that was good for snow-making, as well as some natural snow that fell.

Holiday Valley officials have been talking for a few weeks about possibly opening early, so the resort was able to line up the necessary personnel. Plus, the resort is opening a limited number of slopes for the preview weekend. “It’s doable,” she said.

Bristol Mountain in Canandaigua will open today, one of the earliest start dates in its 51-year history. Its earliest opening date on record was Nov. 9, in 1991. “The very low temperatures have been perfect for snow-making,” said Drew Broderick, a spokesperson. The only open trail will be Rocket Run.

Other ski areas will wait until late next week or later to open. While snow has piled up in many parts of Western New York, not all the ski areas are receiving heavy accumulation. Weather forecasts call for rain this weekend, and temperatures might hit the high 50s early next week – hardly ideal ski conditions.

Kissing Bridge in Glenwood aims to open Nov. 28, weather permitting, said Rachel Fanelli, assistant marketing director. The ski area received about 12 inches of snow in the past two days and was stockpiling snow ahead of this weekend.

HoliMont Ski Area in Ellicottville plans to start making snow just after Thanksgiving but has not yet scheduled an opening date, said marketing director Dash Hegeman.

“The problem with getting a lot (of snow) this time of year is it insulates the ground and doesn’t allow it to freeze,” he said. The ideal formula, Hegeman said, is a string of cold days that freeze the ground, followed by laying down a base of man-made snow, and then the natural kind falling on top of that.

Swain Resort aims to open Nov. 28, said Erich Dobson, marketing director.

The Allegany County resort fired up its snowguns earlier this week. “We’re going to hammer as much as we can for the next couple of days,” Dobson said Tuesday.

Peek’n Peak in Clymer also plans to open Nov. 28 at the earliest, said Brad Gravink, director of mountain operations.

The ski area has been making snow since last week.