Although Eaglecrest Ski Area ends operations today with little fanfare because the annual season-closing Slush Cup was canceled over a frozen water pipe, Eaglecrest employees and guests enjoyed a private day ripping a new covering of snow from the mountain Thursday.
General Manager Kirk Duncan said it's something Eaglecrest tries to do a few times a year. The 150 employees don't get to ride and ski at work as much as you might think, he said.
With winter still in force above the 800-foot mark Thursday, employees ravaged more than a foot of new snow that had fallen since the hill was open to the public the previous weekend. Ski and snowboard instructors joined retail clerks, lift operators and ski patrollers tagging snow that would have been long chewed by the general public on a normal day of operation.
"They deserve this," Duncan said.
Someone zipping through the wooded section of "The Benches" area on the west side of the mountain screamed, "I'm pretty much feeling happy about being here today."
"Today might be the best day of the year," said Gary Speck, who had the tough job of filling in for a friend that couldn't attend the private day. He was riding for her.
"We're going to shred as much as we can," he said. "I don't want to leave anything for the weekend warriors."
Duncan said about 70 people had access to the mountain for four hours Thursday. As of Saturday, 199 inches of snow covered the upper mountain and 73 inches dressed the lower mountain.
People don't realize it's still winter at Eaglecrest because there is no snow in their backyards, Duncan said. The upper mountain has a little less snow than last year. The lower mountain has more, he said.
Employees did a number on the hill marking everything they could access Thursday from the Ptarmigan chairlift. Through force, Speck and others left some of the best skiing untouched as access points to the West and East Bowls remained closed.
Contact reporter Greg Skinnerat 523-2258 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.