First ski hills open on snowy weekend

Photo: CTK

Heavy snowfall in the Czech Republic - in some places up to half a metre - was not greeted heartily by some at the weekend, namely those on Czech roads, but the new snow was certainly appreciated by others, including ski hill operators and skiers. Last year, they had to grin and bear their way through one of mildest winters on record. This time around, they’re hoping, things will be different.

Photo: CTK
For skiers in the Czech Republic, last winter never really got started: instead of icicles, rain, and what snow there was all too often turned quickly to ice, rocky terrain, and slush. For ski run operators the news was even worse: a drop in revenues, for some after investing strongly in improving lifts, runs, and other facilities. This year, operators are betting things will be different and they’ve already gotten a strong boost: heavy snowfall in early November. A number of hills opened runs to the thrill of the season’s first skiers on Saturday. A little earlier I spoke to Stepan Jurik, the head of the Severak resort in northern Bohemia’s Jizera Mountains. He filled me in on the details from the weekend:

“As far as I know this is a record for our hill, the 10th and 11th of November is the earliest we’ve opened. It wasn’t great weather but the skiers were happy because it was snowing. A smaller number turned up on Saturday but Sunday was better, we had a couple hundred visitors. Most of them were skiers but there were snowboarders too. They skied on one trail which runs 300 metres.”

Naturally, many are hoping that snowfall in the coming weeks and months will bury memories of the winter past:

“Last season was not great. We did everything we could to make it last, but, as everyone knows, the conditions were far from ideal. ”

Photo: CTK
Nearby, Jested Mountain is another popular ski resort that is just getting ready to open; there, media representative Helena Cerovska told me final preparations were underway:

“We’re almost ready and everything is set for us to open one of our trails on the upper part of Jested for skiing on Saturday. So far, we’ve got about 30 centimetres but we will be also using ski guns to further improve conditions. Visitors will be able to ski on a mix of new, as well as artificial, snow. ”

Meteorologists expect the second half of November will continue to be chilly, at the very least up until Mikulas (St Nicholas’s Day), and they say current conditions will hold. If they do, expect skiers to hit the slopes in increasing numbers during the Christmas season.