Skiers and snowboarders are waxing bases, setting bindings and sharpening edges while Eaglecrest Ski Area makes the final touches for the 2000-2001 ski season.
Opening day at Eaglecrest has not been set but the area will open as soon as snow conditions permit.
"We shoot for a Thanksgiving opening," Eaglecrest Business Manager Gary Mendivil said. "Statistically we open somewhere near the first week of December."
Small amounts of snow are accumulating at the base of Eaglecrest but temperatures need to drop below 26 degrees in order for the artificial snow to be blown.
When the snow finally arrives, Eaglecrest will feature many new upgrades to entertain Juneau's skiing community this season.
The most visible will be the addition of a new tubing hill directly above the parking lot.
Still under construction, the tubing hill will furnish 400 vertical feet on a 10 percent graded hill in addition to its own tow rope.
"We're excited about the new tubing hill," Mendivil said. "It will give everyone something to do at Eaglecrest."
Everything is in place for the tubing hill except for the tow rope. The system is still under construction and is expected to be completed in the next week.
Snowboarders and skiers will have a place of their own to jump, jib and rail slide in Eaglecrest's new terrain park.
The park will be designed by Jim Mangan who lives and works in Aspen, Colo., where he designs Aspen Ski Co.'s world-class terrain parks.
Located off of the platter lift, the new park will encourage the serious skiers and boarders to focus jumps away from more crowded runs and improve safety at the ski area.
Along with the new park, Eaglecrest has purchased a new Snowcat or "Park Bully" specially designed for terrain park design and maintenance.
The Bully is a more-enhanced Snowcat, with specialized plows to enable the operator to construct half pipes and jumps more easily.
Eaglecrest's rental shop went through almost a complete overhaul of rental equipment during the offseason.
Making improvements: Eaglecrests maintenance crew winds up a used cable after replacing it with a new one on the Ptarmigan chairlift.
MICHAEL PENN / THE JUNEAU EMPIRE
The shop will keep pace with improvements in the ski industry by offering new shaped skis, at least two new models of high-performance skis, new ski and snowboard boots and step-in snowboard bindings.
Shaped skis are a rather new innovation in where both ends of the ski are wide and taper to a very thin center. The shape of the ski works like power steering in an automobile, making turns easier with less effort than the more traditional straight skis.
Step-in snowboard bindings solve the problem of having to sit down and strap in after every chairlift ride just step into the slot until it "clicks" and you're ready to go.
All totaled, the rental shop replaced $45,000 of equipment. But no extra money was taken out of the budget and current rental prices will be maintained.
"I took 75 percent of the rental budget for the last three years and put it into a capital reserve fund," rental shop manager Bill Hodge said. "It made it so I didn't have to ask for any new funds to replace equipment."
All of the new equipment was purchased locally through Adventure Sports, which won the bid offered last summer by the rental shop.
One improvement most skiers may not notice this year, but should give many piece of mind, is the replacement of the cable on the Ptarmigan chairlift.
"The main cable on the Ptarmigan chair is 24 years old," Mendivil said. "It still met safety standards but we thought it was about time to replace it."
Those who have not purchased a season pass for Eaglecrest can still get them at early season prices at the Juneau-Alaska Public Market that ends today at Centennial Hall.
Preseason rates are $375 for adult season passes and $255 for youth passes. But the rates go up to $500 and $340 after today.
Day lift tickets will cost $26 for adults, $18 for youths and $13 for children in sixth grade and below.
Once open, Eaglecrest will operate Thursday through Monday, with the exception of school district winter holidays when it will be open seven days a week weather permitting.
"Eaglecrest is a very good family atmosphere," Mendivil said "It's also virtually the only winter activity to socialize in Juneau."
All we need now is snow.