Scottish ski centres open for business

Skiers and snowboarders at CairnGorm Mountain Range today. Picture: Peter Jolly
Skiers and snowboarders at CairnGorm Mountain Range today. Picture: Peter Jolly
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Hundreds of happy skiers and boarders packed the pistes at two of Scotland’s snow sports centres today.

CairnGorm Mountain near Aviemore described the “Bluebird” conditions as “perfect” and the Lecht in Aberdeenshire was also inundated with enthusiasts getting their first full weekend taste of the season.

Both resorts had several runs open for skiers and snowboarders.

Glencoe Mountain said it has plenty of snow for sledging, but needs more before it could open fully to snowsports enthusiasts.

Nevis Range and Glenshee also require further snowfalls to open fully.

So far this winter, only Nevis Range near Fort William and The Lecht were able to open limited runs for a short time at the end of December.

But warm temperatures, strong winds and a lack of snow had hit the resorts.

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Heather Negus, of Ski-Scotland, said it was not unusual for the resorts to open later in winter.

She said the winter of 2014-15 was the first in years all five opened for snowsports before Christmas.

Ms Negus said: “Even in the really, really good year of 2009-10 only four were open by Christmas.

“Looking back to the early years of Glencoe, it made no attempt to open for snowsports until mid-February.”

In April last year, Glencoe Mountain was described as having the “best powder snow on the planet”.

The conditions, which are highly sought after by skiers and snowboarders, followed heavy snowfalls over several days.

Snowaction magazine rated the centre as having the best powder snow of any of the world’s ski resorts at that time.

The last day of skiing at Glencoe for the 2014-15 season was May 4.

Last year the season began at CairnGorm Mountain on December 13 - before being halted for a little while by strong winds.

In 2013, Cairn Gorm Mountain celebrated its earliest start in five years on November 9 - when it welcomed 800 skiers and snowboarders - before having to shut temporarily soon afterwards as the snow melted when temperatures warmed up.

But operators are now hoping for a less ‘stop-start’ season than last year - which was hit by strong winds in particular.

The Scottish snowsports season generated more than £23m for the economy last season.

It was slightly down on the previous winter with 230,634 skier days recorded at the five mountain areas.

Over the last six seasons, Scotland’s snowsports areas have hosted more than 1.5m skier days which have produced over £155M for the economy.