Sagamore Hills -- After a rough season last year, the Boston Mills/Brandywine ski areas are open for business again.
Thomas Conti, spokesman for the areas, said opening day Dec. 16 was about two weeks earlier than last year's start, when warm temperatures in December made it difficult to make snow.
"We had people out here an hour, two hours early to get to that first chair," Conti said. "Friday were some of the best conditions. It was great riding -- the snow was perfect."
After a busy opening day, temperatures approaching 40 degrees and rain closed the slopes on Saturday.
"It actually didn't rain too bad, but what happens when you get a mix, it melts the top layer of snow, then overnight, it drops down to freezing and freezes the top layer of snow," Conti said.
Crews were out at 7 a.m. Sunday morning to break up the ice and groom the slopes in time to open at 9 a.m.
While turnout Dec. 18 was a bit less than normal, Conti said business should pick up during the upcoming holidays, as Brandywine will remain open every day throughout the season, including Christmas and New Year's Day.
Brandywine is in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, on the south side of Highland Road and west of Brandywine Road.
Boston Mills, located on Riverview Road in Boston Township, will be closed Dec. 24 and 25.
The two ski areas are owned by Peak Resorts, which also owns Alpine Valley in Chesterland off Route 322.
Conti said that visitors this year will see a renovated lodge at Boston Mills.
"In the off-season we heavily reinvested in ourselves. We did a complete renovation of the lodge and the interior has been completely renovated and updated and it has a more natural flow now. We're really excited about it," he said.
The resort has also added its snow-making capabilities.
"We also invested in new snow makers. We bought about a dozen of them. That's one of the reasons we were able to open so early," Conti said.
Visitors to Brandywine will also be able to try some new tricks at the terrain park there, where new features have been added.
"We invested in our freestyle terrain park. That's a huge hit here," Conti said. "People want to come out here for the jumps and the rails and all the tricks you can do out on the slopes here. They're crazy excited to come out here and try out our new terrain. We've got some features that are on par with the best in the country."
Peak resorts has previously invested in snow-making capacity and in 2013 opened a new, $5 million lodge at Brandywine. The new facility replaced the former lodge built in 1963.
The ski areas attract people from throughout the region, including school groups and events such as the Ohio Special Olympics Winter Games in January.
Conti said around 7,000 people per day are expected throughout the season. The business employs around 500 seasonal workers and around 400 instructors at the two areas.
For more information, see www.bmbw.com.
Eric Marotta: 330-541-9433