Eaglecrest anticipates long season

Volunteers hope to raise funds for two new ski lifts

Posted: Monday, January 22, 2007

Plentiful snow promises to give skiers and snowboarders the longest season at Eaglecrest Ski Area since 1995, records show.

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"The conditions have been great," skier Cecile Elliot said Sunday. "Even when it's raining downtown, it's been beautiful up here. There's been a lot of powder this year."

Access to more snow may be on the way. A campaign to raise money for two new chair lifts will begin tomorrow. A team of 40 volunteers will reach out to businesses and individuals to raise $150,000 for a new mid-mountain chair lift and a new lift on the beginners' slope. They hope to finish the task by February.

"Our main focus is to create more skiers and snowboarders in Juneau," Area Manager Kirk Duncan said.

Most of the funding for the project will come from an $800,000 bond approved by voters in 2005. The rest will be donated. People who give $1,000 can get their name on a chair lift and on a board at the lodge.

The idea is to open up parts of Eaglecrest that will have snow even when higher temperatures melt the snow off the bottom portions of the existing slopes.

"We think it will make a big difference for us," Duncan said.

The current season began Nov. 18, about a month early. The area usually stays open five days a week until April 15. That would provide 103 days on the slopes, compared to 58 last year, Duncan said.

The extra days don't add much to the facility's revenue, since the majority of the skiers hold season passes, Duncan said. While Eaglecrest has generated about $1 million per year in the last three years, it's subsidized by the city. The total cost amounts to $18 from each Juneau resident, he said.

The city has about 30 percent of its residents calling themselves active skiers, he said. That compares with a national average of about 8 percent of people.

Among those skiers is Gracie Lazar, 6, who lounged in the lodge Sunday under the guidance of Cecile Elliot and Marsha Squires. Gracie was especially pleased that the season opened early this year.

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For more on snow conditions, as well as the latest news and events, visit the Web site at www.juneau.org/eaglecrest/

"I've been skiing a lot," she said.

"Everybody has a smile on their face and rosy cheeks," Squires added.

Jordan Cooper, 8, spent some time at Eaglecrest on Sunday with her mother, Alyson Cooper. She started skiing last year on the "bunny hills." At first, she fell a lot and didn't like it, she said.

"Then she didn't want to go to school because she wanted to go skiing," her mother said.

"It's fun," Jordan said.

• Ken Lewis can be reached at ken.lewis@juneauempire.com.

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