Ober Gatlinburg ski slopes open early

Nov. 30, 2013 @ 11:38 PM

The cold temperatures the last few days might have made Thanksgiving travel more difficult and kept some people outside, but they meant an early start and good deals for people looking to hit the slopes at Ober Gatlinburg.

The longtime attraction would typically open Dec. 10, but the cold weather led to one of its earliest openings in recent memory.

“This is the earliest start we’ve had since 1989,” said John Cossaboom, director of winter sports. “We’re about two weeks earlier than normal.”

While the facility has added some new equipment in the last few years — a Snow Magic system that let them start snow tubing last week — that wasn’t what let planners open the ski slopes so early.

“It’s just good old fashioned cold weather,” Cossaboom said.

Ober officials know the crowds of tourists who visit the area for Thanksgiving might not have come prepared for skiiing, but they’re offering special rates for those who decide to take advantage of the opportunity.

For now until Dec. 13, customers will pay the midweek rates even on weekends.

“It’s a good bargain, Cossaboom said. “Even though it’s a holiday, we’re only charging our weekday rates. “

Ober had three trails open Friday — Ski School, Cub Way and Castle Run, and while temperatures were high for making more snow during the day, they planned to resume making snow when temperatures dropped.

They were getting a strong response, and Cossaboom said they expected to have good crowds at least through the end of the holiday weekend.

“We’ve certainly had a great response (Friday) for our opening,” he said.

jfarrell@themountainpress.com