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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Skiing season starts at Peek'n Peak


By SEAN McCRACKEN, Erie Times-News 

FINDLEY LAKE, N.Y. -- Nick Scott Sr. knows that snow is one of the most important ingredients for a successful season at Peek'n Peak Resort and Spa.

So with plenty on the ground for the opening of the skiing and snowboarding season on Friday, he's hopeful the winter of 2013-14 could be the best since Erie-based Scott Enterprises bought the resort out of bankruptcy in 2011.

"This is a sigh of relief," said Scott, the company's president. "It's great to be able to get a jump-start."

Early forecasts project this upcoming winter as a consistently snowy one. If that holds true, it would be in stark contrast to the winter of 2011-12, which was so mild that the company was forced to shut the slopes down early, and the winter of 2012-13, when heavy snows didn't start until the end of December.

Additional snowfall doesn't just keep the slopes open, Scott said. It also has the benefit of getting more people thinking about skiing and buying season passes.

"We looked at the 20-year averages (of snowfall) before buying the resort," Scott said. "And each of the last two years has been below average. We'll do well with an average year, and we expect more than that."

Even with help from the weather, Scott said the resort was making snow Friday in hopes of laying a solid base to last the season.

Eleven of the resort's slopes were open Friday. Scott said he expected all 27 to be ready in the next couple of weeks.

Scott said this season should also be boosted by several improvements at the resort, including new features at the snowboard park, new furnishings at the ski lodge and a new computerized system that keeps track of returning customers' sizes for equipment rentals.

Time off for the Thanksgiving holiday and seemingly perfect skiing weather -- 24 degrees and sunny -- inspired hundreds to come out Friday, and Scott said he expected thousands more today and Sunday.

Brett Christy, of Fredonia, N.Y., and his family were among those drawn to the resort Friday. He said his family normally comes to Peek'n Peak more than a dozen times in a given year, but this is the first year they bought season passes. He said he is impressed with the changes made since 2011.

"Things seem more well-organized than a couple years ago," Christy said.

Christy said his family doesn't make it a point to come out on the first day each year, but the conditions seemed just right Friday.

Self-described avid skier John Reed was also among those drawn to the slopes Friday by the snow. While waiting in the ski lodge with his 3-year-old daughter, Gabby, Reed said he makes a point of driving from his home in Cleveland to the resort at least a couple of times each year.

"It's the best skiing that is this close," Reed said.

SEAN McCRACKEN can be reached at 870-1714 or by e-mail. Follow him on Twitter at

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