Blacktail and Turner to Open This Weekend

By Beacon Staff

Fans of Northwest Montana’s smaller ski areas will have the opportunity to make turns in excellent snow as Lakeside’s Blacktail Mountain and Libby’s Turner Mountain prepare to open for the 2010-2011 season.

“The snow’s wonderful,” Steve Spencer, Blacktail’s general manager, said. “We’re going to be 100 percent open when we open.”

Blacktail plans to open Friday, Dec. 10. Turner will open the following day, according to Bruce Zwang, who sits on Turner’s board of directors.

Several changes are on tap for the winter at Blacktail, but rental rates and lift ticket prices have not increased from last season. Crews did some timber thinning over the summer along Blacktail’s slopes, which opens up more gladed skiing. And the heavy precipitation should lead to an expanded terrain park for the jibbers.

“This year, with all the snow, we should be able to get a few more snow features,” Spencer said. “We’re real excited about the quality of snow that we’ve received already.”

In the lodge, The Docks restaurant is taking over operation of the cafeteria and Muley’s Pub and Restaurant, which Spencer said will offer new and improved menus.

He’s also excited about a new partnership with two ski areas in British Columbia. Blacktail will be offering a “Ski More” card for $74.95. Purchasing the card allows for $8 off the price of a lift ticket any day at Blacktail. But the card also covers the cost of a day pass at Kimberley or Fernie Alpine resorts. Cardholders receive discounts on their second and third days of skiing at the Canadian resorts, a free fourth day, discounts on the fifth and sixth days of skiing, and a free seventh day.

The goal, according to Spencer, is to encourage skiers and snowboarders to explore resorts on either side of the border.

“Hopefully we’ll get some Canadian people heading our way and some of our people heading up there,” Spencer said.

Like Blacktail, crews at Turner Mountain Ski Area, which is about 22 miles north of Libby, thinned timber stands on some slopes over the summer, creating new glade skiing this season. As in previous years, Turner operates weekly from Friday through Sunday and some holidays: which means fresh lines are still waiting to be cut on the weekends following mid-week powder dumps that may be skied out elsewhere. Turner will also be open every day from Dec. 23 through Jan. 2, except Christmas day.

And like Blacktail, Turner is keeping prices on rentals and lift tickets the same as last season.

“It’s still one of the cheapest lift tickets in the state,” Zwang said.

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