UNION DALE, Pa. — The slopes at Elk Mountain are almost ready to go — a sea of white now covers the trails that will soon have skiers and snowboarders zipping down the mountain.
Employees have been hard at work, getting ready for opening day on Thursday.
"With the natural snow last week, that certainly got us pumped for this, and then it's been very cold at night, so we've been able to make lots of snow," said Elk Mountain's Bob DeLuca.
Preparations inside were underway in the ski shop and rental shop.
Outside, groomers were moving snow around and smoothing it out to welcome skiers and snowboarders for the season. Officials at Elk say they like when they can open before the holidays, and there will be at least five trails open. With more snow in the forecast, they hope Mother Nature will assist in opening more trails.
"We're hoping that it's all snow since we have a little bit of an elevation advantage here, so we're hoping for that to see lots of snow Thursday and Friday."
Having this much snow on the ground and Elk Mountain opening is great news for businesses in the area.
Idlewild Ski Shop is not far from Elk Mountain, and owner Jane Matthews says winter is their busiest time of year, and the earlier the mountain opens, the better.
"I think that that's going to have a huge influence on our Christmas week, which in this business is the biggest of the year," said Matthews.
Matthews says they are starting to see customers dropping off their skis and boards to be tuned up for the season, but renting equipment is big for business.
"Two years in a row, we have run out of seasonal rentals. We did have to cut them off, or we wouldn't have enough equipment for our daily rentals, which is a big part of our business."
Both the resort and ski shop expect to be busy through the weekend.
Check the full Stormtracker 16 forecast before you hit the slopes.
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