Sioux Falls, SD
For winter sports enthusiasts, it is all downhill from here. Great Bear Recreation Park opens for the season today, and despite our lack of wintry conditions the slopes have a foot of fresh snow.
A man-made blizzard atop the slopes puts the snow-scarce winter right on track at Great Bear.
"It's been a challenge at times, but we're open, we're all happy," Great Bear Recreation Park General Manager Dan Grider said.
Snow guns have peppered the landscape since November 19th because Mother Nature has been firing blanks when it comes to providing snowcover this year.
Great Bear's 18 snowmaking machines can churn out 850 gallons a minute, as long as the temperatures do not climb any higher than 25-degrees.
"Our equipment anymore is so good, we can get it on the hill so fast that we just need these little cold snaps and we're good to go," Grider said.
Great Bear got a huge lift last year with its most profitable season ever, and there are early indicators of another successful season this year, despite its later than usual start.
"Our pre-season sales are up 25-percent, we've come off two really good seasons and that's helped, so we're really excited about that," Grider said.
Great Bear's snow guns will likely run out of their artic ammo Saturday afternoon when the weekend temperatures start heating up again.
There should be plenty of snow by then to lay the groundwork for what Great Bear hopes will be another busy winter.
"All we can do is make sure that we're ready when the temperatures are ready. We hope we do get some snow, but after that, it's all out of our hands," Grider said.