While many people may not be looking forward to the wintry conditions expected in Kentuckiana this weekend, Paoli Peaks is excited to finally open for the season.
"Very excited. We're all skiers ourselves, so we just want to get out and make turns too,” Rick McMullen said.
McMullen is the general manager of Paoli Peaks and was busy monitoring the hill’s snow-making machines on Thursday. The colder temperatures allowed the snow-making guns to be fired up finally. McMullen said they began making snow in December, but without much snow this year and hitting 60’s in January, it hasn’t been enough to open.
"I mean this was bare yesterday morning when we fired up,” McMullen said pointing to the ski hill. "We can only control so much and so when the weather does turn for us, we're ready for it."
Mother nature is finally bringing the potential for snow and below-freezing temperatures, which make for perfect conditions.
"We always appreciate help when mother nature wants to step up but an inch of natural snow, packs out to be very little,” McMullen said.
That is why the hill relies so heavily on their snow-making process. McMullen said the process is very laborious and that they’re “making magic.”
"Every single one that we have here is different,” McMullen said. "Constant changing of the temperature, humidity, the wind, air pressure, water pressure, we're constantly having to keep up with the guns to make sure that each one is producing the maximum amount of snow it can at any given moment."
Paoli Peaks is now taking every opportunity it can to run the snow-making machines.
"In the 48-hour window roughly that we've had to make snow, we're about halfway through right now,” McMullen said, adding that he prefers there to be at least 12 inches of depth before opening up the hill to skiers and snowboarders.
Without the right conditions yet this year, there hasn’t been business in the doors of Paoli Pro Shop, something manager Roger Sobotka believes will change.
"It'll be busy. It'll be full on the day we open I'm sure,” Sobotka said.
Both Sobotka and McMullen say the uncertainty is something they’re pretty used to each season, with such unpredictable weather.
"We're excited for this weekend's weather. I've been here 40 years, it changes all the time up here. You never know what's going to happen in Southern Indiana,” Sobotka said.
Paoli Peaks is opening up its slopes a little later than it’d like this year, but it announced Thursday afternoon it plans to open the Arctic Blast tube park at 5 p.m. on Friday, January 11. The ski and snowboard slopes will open at 10 a.m. on Saturday, January 12. It has not yet determined the terrain.