'An unbelievable head start'

A snow gun blows snow onto the front hill at the Ski Bowl on Tuesday, Nov. 12. 

Temperatures are expected to reach into the 40s for much of this coming week.

That shouldn’t put a damper on the work already done to ready the Ski Bowl for the coming season.

“Our goal is Dec. 7 as our opening day,” said hill manager Benji Stone.

Stone said the crew at Mulligan’s Hollow went to work last week Monday, firing up the snow guns at 4 a.m. and running them for three straight days.

“We’ve got John Spruit, our designer and the brains behind the operation,” Stone said. “I was there during the day running the guns. A big shout out to Derek Warner from the Outdoor Ed class (at Grand Haven High School), he watched the guns for several hours. Then we’ve got a new guy from Colorado, Lance Cooper, who worked for Keystone Resorts. He made snow for them for two years.

“We’re very excited. We have a great team shaping up. “

Stone explained that man-made snow can withstand elevated temperatures better than natural snow.

“You might not see snow in town, but it will not touch what we’ve made,” Stone said. “This man-made snow holds up very well. What we’ve done in the first three days is makes sure the front hill has a solid base, so when this rain and heat event comes in the next week, as soon as it drops back down, we’ll be able to fire up the guns and be ready to go.

“We’ve got an unbelievable head start.”

Stone said they can make snow when the temperature hits 29 degrees or lower.

“Humidity also plays a role,” he said. “The lower the humidity level, the easier it is to make snow. There’s a lot of science involved.”

If the Ski Bowl can hit its goal, this would be the second consecutive year the slopes opened on Dec. 7. Stone said that to his knowledge, that’s as early as the Ski Bowl has ever opened.

He said the ski hill is a tremendous asset for the community, and that asset wouldn’t be possible without the help of so many volunteers.

“We had a bunch of parents from the community come together,” Stone said. “Last Saturday, we had probably 15-20 people come out to volunteer their time to get the ropes on, get everything ready to go,” he said. “We’re also doing employee training. We have more than 50 high school kids on staff this year, which is huge, because we did over 600 private lessons last year, and we’re expecting even more this year.

“Our bigger goal is for every single child, before they turn 16, to try to ski or snowboard one time at Mulligan’s Hollow. If you’re having money issues, come and talk to us, and we’ll make sure you get on that hill.

“It’s all about the kids.”

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