COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- After a bleak winter for Ohio ski resorts last year, this week's heavy snowfall is being celebrated as many slopes open for the first time this season.
"Mother Nature finally woke up and came in with a big punch," Greg Fisher, general manager of Mad River Mountain ski resort, told The Columbus Dispatch for a story Friday. "It's not very often that Ohio gets nearly a foot of snow all at once."
Mad River Mountain, in western Ohio just outside Bellefontaine, got about 10 inches of snow Wednesday. That was enough to allow the resort to open all but one of its 24 trails the next day. Its 1,000-foot-long snow-tubing hill is opening Friday.
Last year, the resort had just five trails open after Christmas. On its opening day this year, last Saturday, only a few trails were available.
Warm weather and a lack of snowfall combined to keep the three ski resorts in northern Ohio from opening until now. Slopes at Boston Mills resort, midway between Cleveland and Akron, were scheduled to open Friday. Nearby Brandywine is slated to open Saturday, and operators at Alpine Valley in Chesterland, east of Cleveland, also hope to open this weekend.
More snow is predicted for much of Ohio on Saturday.
Vinnie Lewis, general manager of Boston Mills and Brandywine, said more trails will be opened this weekend if temperatures stay low enough -- as expected -- for more artificial snow-making.
"We'll be making snow 24/7 if we can," Lewis said. "I can see us opening the other trails quickly because the great thing is, the forecast for snow and snow-making is nice."
Annie Weirich, director of event coordinating at Clear Fork Resort near Mansfield, said slopes were able to be opened Monday -- thanks to 30 snow-making guns and eight mobile snow-makers that have been added this year.
The resort shut down several years ago but reopened under new management last year. But the winter was so warm that slopes were open only one full week plus weekends.
"We're very appreciative of Mother Nature this year, even though she kind of got a late start," Weirich said.
When it comes to snow, skiers -- and resort operators -- know that nothing beats the real thing.
"When it snows, that's the best advertising of all for us," Weirich said. "People think that if they don't have snow, we don't have snow, either."
Snow Trails, the other ski resort near Mansfield, opened earlier this month. Nine of its 17 trails and one terrain park are open, and the tubing hill is set to open on Saturday.
Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com