Although Black Friday usually means shoppers in the valleys boosting the bottom line of retailers, this year it also meant skiers in the mountains helping resort operators get off to a good start.
The San Bernardino Mountains ski resorts – and roads – were jammed Friday as skiers and snowboarders took advantage of the long holiday weekend and the early snow to hit the slopes.
Snow Valley Mountain Resort General Manager Kevin Somes said the resorts don’t need to fill the airwaves with ads promoting sales like retailers do. They have their own marquee.
“You can see the snow on the mountains, and when that’s up there, it’s what we consider the million-dollar billboard,” Somes said. “You can’t pay for that. People see snow and they’re attracted to it.”
Somes said Snow Valley, which is in Running Springs, will open Saturday morning, joining neighboring Snow Summit and Bear Mountain, which opened earlier this month. Mountain High in Wrightwood is also open.
Somes said the resort has been filling a lot of online orders for tickets. He added that the volume of calls being handled by the switchboard and queries coming through the website have been high.
“I think there’s going to be a nice day ahead of us (Saturday),” Somes said.
The Big Bear Mountain Resorts information line reported receiving 1-2 inches of fresh snow the previous night and that snowmaking operations had been going on around the clock for two days.
The backup for motorists on the 18 began about 5 miles from Running Springs. Chain restrictions were put in effect early Friday, and along the side of the road at turnouts, chain installers were doing a booming business – at $40 per vehicle – by 9 a.m.
The Snowdrift Snow Tubing Park and Alpine Slide at Big Bear were busy. And the Snow Summit parking lot was packed by the early afternoon.
Snowboarder Justin Henderson, 30, of Riverside said the slopes were in decent shape.
“I’ve done probably 12 or 15 runs,”…