Great Bear taking advantage of cold temps to make snow

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Great Bear Ski Valley closed Thursday for snow-making. The staff at the Sioux Falls recreation park is taking advantage of the frigid temps instead of staying inside where it’s warm.

With temps well below zero, maintenance worker Michael Vardsveen is blasting his way through this chilly weather.

“Great conditions for snow-making,” Vardsveen said.

But not necessarily for humans. That’s why Vardsveen comes prepared with extra layers.

Michael Vardsveen: I think I’m on four or five.
Matt Holsen: Is that what it takes?
Michael Vardsveen: Yeah that’s what it takes.

He says you also need attention to detail or things can get real dangerous.

“You’ve got to be real careful when you’re moving guns, changing guns, that you’re not getting drenched because it can lead to hypothermia real fast,” Vardsveen said.

It can also lead to a lot of extra snow according to General Manager Dan Grider.

“When you get cold temps like this kind of late into the season, this might be our last shot to make snow. If you look back earlier in the season, it’s been pretty mild. Our business has been great because it has been mild,” Grider said.

It’s been a very busy year for Great Bear. It’s had 33,000 visits in 52 days. To put that into perspective for you, an average year is about 40,000 visits over 85 days.

Grider is hoping to get the park to where it was last year without the added flooding. The season could have extended to April if not for all that water in mid-March.

“When that lower lift got flooded, the control panel was under three feet of water. There again, an old lift, no replacement parts, the season was over,” Grider said.

Grider’s wishing for the best this year and thinks this weekend will be filled with skiers and snowboarders.

“Temperatures are going to be mild. It’s a nice four-day weekend,” Grider said.

Grider says when it gets this cold, staff can pump about 7-800 gallons of water a minute onto the hill. Great Bear will reopen this Friday for skiing, snowboarding and tubing at 9 a.m.

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