It's all downhill from here
WALWORTH COUNTY — For skiing enthusiasts, the first snowfall is enough to bring them to the slopes. Winters in Wisconsin, however, can be fickle, as the past two months have shown.
The start to this season in many ways has been similar to 2015, when Thanksgiving weekend — often heralding the start of the ski season — was too warm to even make snow.
“That year, we didn't open until after Christmas,” said Bruce Firestone, general manager of Alpine Valley Resort, W2501 County Highway D, near East Troy.
The start of this season, however, was much different, Firestone said, calling it “the third best December so far on record.”
The cold temperatures allowed snow-making crews to create an “incredible amount of base in a very short time,” he said, adding that even when the weather got warmer, it wasn't too difficult to keep snow on the ground overall.
Alpine Valley features more than 90 acres with 20 runs, five wonder carpets, terrain for snowboarding and beginning and advanced lessons for children and adults. The resort also offers on-site ski-in/ski-out rooms, a full-service bistro and free weekend family movie nights.
New this season is a 1,400-foot additional trail, with a chairlift that's been updated to seat three.
Firestone said guests are divided between about 70 percent skiers and 30 percent snowboarders, a ratio that's stayed fairly similar for the last decade or so.
“The crowd is different, though. It's much more families,” he said. “Everyone that's coming is having a good time, too, and going home happy.”
For more information, see Alpine Valley's website at alpinevalleyresort.com.
The Mountain Top at the Grand Geneva Resort, 7036 Grand Geneva Way, Lake Geneva, boasts more than 30 acres with 20 runs, three chairlifts, two wonder carpets and a new six-acre terrain park with a dedicated lift. The ski resort offers downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoe trails, sledding and even skating at its own ice rink.
The resort draws groups from Scouts to corporate executives, said Chad Hart, director of ski operations at Grand Geneva. It also draws a lot of families, who take advantage of advanced terrain and beginners lessons, including Snow Cubs for children as young as 3 years old.
“That doesn't mean you won't see a couple holding hands while skating or enjoying a hot toddy after skiing, sitting by the fireplace in the chalet,” Hart said. “What's great is, as the years pass, you see those couples return with their children. That's the culture of skiing.”
Ski equipment can be rented and specials are available throughout the week.
Among the upcoming events planned at the Grand Geneva are a military appreciation day on Friday, Feb. 24.
For more information, visit grandgeneva.com/ski-snowboard-wisconsin.