Perfect start to Scottish ski season

Boards and skis on a white and busy Cairn Gorm yesterday, with plenty more to come. Picture: Peter Jolly
Boards and skis on a white and busy Cairn Gorm yesterday, with plenty more to come. Picture: Peter Jolly
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THOUSANDS of skiers and snowboarders took to the slopes yesterday as Scotland’s five ski resorts reopened after last week’s storms and high winds – and look set to stay busy for the rest of the holidays.

Fresh snow fell on the hills on Christmas night, and with clear skies and little wind yesterday, conditions were described as perfect.

CairnGorm Mountain, forced to close for four days last week, hosted about 1,000 Boxing Day skiers and snowboarders, bringing the total for the season to more than 10,000.

Marketing manager Colin Kirkwood said: “Overhead conditions were excellent, with only light winds and sunshine breaking through from mid-morning.

“In addition to skiers and boarders, 250 visitors made the journey on the funicular to watch the snowsports.”

Mr Kirkwood said the weather forecast was similar for today, though windier tomorrow. The resort expects to be busy throughout the New Year and has arranged facilities for floodlit evening skiing and boarding.

“We ran one floodlit evening session last season, which was very popular,” said Mr Kirkwood. “We have hired more floodlighting than we had last year, and are watching the weather closely.”

He added: “The season has got off to a very promising start, and a good base has built up with assistance in some areas from the snow guns we are trialling this season.

“We have already had twice as many skiers as we had by the same point last year, so we remain optimistic about the prospects for the New Year, bearing in mind the huge variety of conditions we have experienced over the last three seasons.”

The first floodlit session will be held tomorrow, between 4pm and 8pm, weather permitting.

At Glencoe, a spokeswoman said: “We have had over 150 customers so far today, and expect more over the coming days if the weather remains as it is.

“We have had a good season so far since opening in mid- November, and had an extra five to six inches of snow overnight.”

The Lecht Ski Centre had all eight runs operating and saw about 300 customers yesterday.

A spokeswoman said: “We had a little dusting overnight, and it is clear with slight winds, which are perfect conditions.

“We had a good start since opening on 2 December, with great snow, and while we lost a bit last week in the bad weather we still have some good, hard snow cover..”

A spokeswoman at the Nevis Range said: “We were disrupted last week with extremely stormy weather, which damaged some lifts, but this week we are up and running. We got some fresh snow over Christmas Day, especially on the upper mountain, and it looks really pretty.

“We have had over 400 customers today and we plan to be open every day over the holidays, including New Year.”

Glenshee Ski Centre was also enjoying a good mix of skiers, snowboarders and tourists.