All the lake effect snow over the past week is good news for skiers who got to hit the slopes for the first time this winter at Holiday Valley. YNN's Nicki Mayo takes us to opening day at the Ellicottville resort.
ELLICOTTVILLE, N.Y. -- Lockport students Zach Pietrzykowski and Zack Kibler skipped class to hop on the slopes at Holliday Valley Ski Resort.
"I told my mom that I'm skipping school for the first day. This is my first day here on the opening day, so I'm stoked," said Pietrzykowski.
"We just love riding so first day open, why not come!," Kibler added.
The Niagara County teens are among the hundreds of Western New York skiers hitting the slopes for the new season.
"I think the snow conditions are fabulous for opening day. It's the most snow we've seen in years" said Chris Tew.
More than a half-million skiers visit Holiday Valley each year.
"We have three lifts open, about 10 slopes so it's just going to get better from here on," said Holiday Valley Marketing Director Jane Eshbaugh.
"It's been a great opening because of all this beautiful snow they we've had. The weather has been cold we've been able to make some snow," Esbaugh added.
The snow guns have been pumping out snow since Thanksgiving. The area has seen more than a foot of lake effect snow in the past week.
"The lake effect snow that we get makes skiing so much fun. It makes it soft and pretty," said Esbaugh.
"It's a little icy in patches underneath, but this new snow is going to make a big, big difference," Tew added.
Holiday Valley and Kissing Bridge are among the Western New York ski resorts opening this week. More skiers hitting the slopes can mean more shoppers heading into local stores.
"When ski season starts, it's a huge economic impact to the area. It's not just Ellicottville; it's the entire county of Cattaraugus," said Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Brian McFadden.
"It's exciting. There's all this pent up energy from October and November. Although we have a great summer time and fall here. Everybody wants that ski season to start," McFadden added.
The Chamber has 400 business members. Forty-five of them provide lodging, a third of those are in Ellicottville.
"So we send them out to everywhere around the county. So ski season is important to a big area," McFadden said.
There are more than 120 ski trails between Holiday Valley and Holimont ski resorts.
"Oh my gosh, it's awesome already. If you find the lines, it's really good skiing out there," said Laura Kohler of Ellicottville. She advises rookies to play it safe on the slopes.
"Take it easy, it's the beginning of the season, you got a whole season to go," Kohler added.
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