WILMINGTON - Due to the combination of cold weather and recent snowfall, the state will open its Whiteface and Gore Mountain ski centers this weekend, the earliest opening day ever for Whiteface.
Whiteface, in Wilmington, will open on Friday and be open through Sunday. Gore, in North Creek, will be open Saturday and Sunday. Both mountains will then be closed until Friday, Nov. 22. The originally planned opening day was Nov. 29, the day after Thanksgiving, which is the traditional start of the ski season at both mountains.
Whiteface's Nov. 15 starting date will beat last year's, when the resort opened on Nov. 17. This is the second earliest opening for Gore, dating back to 1986 when it opened on Nov. 15.
Whiteface Mountain as seen from state Route 86 in Lake Placid
Five trails, up to the summit of the mountain's Little Whiteface spur, will be open this weekend. Excelsior, Summit Express, Upper Valley, Lower Valley and the Fox trails will be ready for skiing and snowboarding.
"The crew has been doing a great job getting the mountain ready, and we're very excited that we'll be open early for the second straight year," Whiteface General Manager Aaron Kellett said in a press release. The new snowmaking guns have really allowed us to cover quite a bit of the mountain, and we've been able to do this more efficiently than in years past."
Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office announced the mountains' opening in a press release Thursday. The release also provided statistics from the the National Ski Areas Association, stating that of the 37 states with operating ski areas, New York has the most - 50 areas in operation during the 2012-13 winter season - followed by Michigan's 42, Wisconsin's 32 and Pennsylvania with 28.
"I encourage New Yorkers and visitors to dust off their skis and snowboards, plan their trip with 'I SKI NY' and hit one of our trails this winter," Cuomo said in the press release.
At Gore, the Sunway Lift will take skiers and riders to the Jamboree Trail. The resort's terrain park, at the bottom of the arena, as well as the cafeteria and rental shop will also be in operation.
"Mother Nature has given us a window of opportunity," Gore General Manager Mike Pratt said in a press release. "We're excited to be opening the 80th season of skiing and riding in North Creek."
Rates are discounted for Whiteface this weekend. Lift tickets will cost $38 for adults, $33 for teens and seniors, and $28 for juniors. Lift tickets at Gore will cost $38. Skiers and snowboarders who bring a non-perishable food item to Gore's "Gore Gives" program, benefiting local food banks, will receive a $10 discount, up to two discounts per ticket.
The state's other ski mountain, Belleayre Ski Resort in Highmount in the Catskills, is making snow in anticipation of a Nov. 29 opening.
Trails and lifts are subject to change this weekend. Log on to www.whitefacelakeplacid.com before coming to either mountain for the latest conditions.