Snowmaking guns blasted snow non-stop on Monday and will continue over the next few days as Ski Sundown in New Hartford, Conn. races toward a belated opening day.
General Manager Bob Switzgable said snowmaking equipment will “bury the place” in an attempt to open on Friday morning. Switzgable, who has owned the mountain since 2002 and has been working and skiing at the mountain for 30 years, said the opening is the latest in Ski Sunday history since he has been here.
“We’re going to have snowmakers going all day and all night,’’ Switzgable said. “We’ll be able to cover about half the mountain over the next few days. After those trails are done, we’ll move on to the other ones.”
Ski Sundown features 16 trails, 15 of which have lighting, and 70 skiable acres. There are three lifts, two conveyors, a mix of easiest, more difficult and expert trails and two terrain parks. With its 100 percent snowmaking capacity, Ski Sundown is always among the first ski areas to open in Southern New England.
“There is clearly pent-up demand,’’ said Lori Shield, the Marketing Director for Ski Sundown. “We’re trying to tell our customers to hang in there and keep working with us. The weather is something we can’t control. Once we do get those cold temperatures, we can absolutely kill it with snowmaking.”
While no major snowstorms are forecast for the region in the extended weather outlook, cold temperatures will permit Ski Sundown to make snow.
“Our snowmaking gives us a big advantage,’’ Switzgable said. “We can do a little better than a lot of ski areas in lean snow years because we have more snowmaking per acre than most other ski areas. Typically, we’re the first mountain in New England to be 100 percent open.”
Besides its snowmaking, Ski Sundown also distinguishes itself from other ski areas in the region with its variety of terrain and amenities. The mountain offers equipment for rent, a food and lounge area, lodge mezzanine with mountain views, a ski shop, and welcome center.
Ski Sundown also offers free NASTAR and league racing, ski and snowboard lessons for all abilities, programs for kids and teens, junior instructor development and a women’s club. It is located about 90 minutes from lower Fairfield County and lower Westchester County and about two hours from New York City.
“We see a lot of people from Fairfield County and Westchester County on weekends,’’ Shield said. “We’ll see the beach parking stickers on their cars, or notice a New York license plate. They’ll tell us ‘don’t tell people about Sundown,’ because they like it so much and want us to be a best kept secret. It’s a great family mountain experience. There is something for mom, dad and the kids, and it’s a great place to come and learn.”
Lift ticket prices with a Ski Sundown Savings Card (priced at $89) begin at $19 for night skiing. There are also special rates for midweek and season-long tickets, seniors, youth (ages 7-14) and children ages 6 and under.
Ski Sundown has aggressively upgraded multiple facets since Switzgable took over in 2002, adding snowmaking guns, renovating lodges, developing Connecticut’s first adaptive ski school and building a new expert run, Satan’s Stairway, that opened last winter.
“This year we’re just trying to get open,’’ Switzgable said. “We’ve been ready since Thanksgiving. We’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting. We really try to have something for everybody.”