Mount Ashland to stay open another week

Mount Ashland will extend the ski season for another weekend after a hearty turnout of skiers Saturday and Sunday.

"We just really want to say, 'Thank you to everybody for a great year,' " said Kim Clark, ski area general manager. "Let's come up and have another great weekend. We are even supposed to get more snow."

More than 1,900 skiers and snowboarders visited the ski area Saturday and Sunday, the date originally set to mark the end of the season.

"There were three reasons the attendance was good: the weather, the awesome snow conditions we have up here, especially for this late in the season; and the third thing was being truthful and honest with our guests that this is how many people it's going to take to be able to extend the season," Clark said. "They came up in carloads and brought family and friends, and it was great."

The ski area will be closed on weekdays this week but will reopen for skiing and snowboarding from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. next Saturday and Sunday. All four chairlifts are scheduled to run.

However, the terrain parks will be closed, and no lessons will be available.

"I feel awesome," said downhill skier Ryan Slagle of Ashland. "I'm going to try to get off work so I can go next weekend."

Slagle, an employee at Ashland Mountain Supply in downtown Ashland, skis three to four times a week during the season.

"I'm from the Northeast where the season is shorter and harsher," Slagle said. "I'm spoiled here with the long season and warm weather."

Sunday marked the second consecutive time the ski season has been prolonged at Mount Ashland. In 2006-07, the season also was extended another weekend.

"This one was a little more thought-provoking because the 19th and 20th is late in the month," Clark said. "We had to consider, are the guests still enthused, or is it time to move on to spring and summer projects? They showed us they still want to ski."

Despite reducing operating hours this year by closing on Mondays and Tuesdays and eliminating Saturday night skiing, the ski area still expects to nearly match last year's turnout.

"I'm confident we'll top 90,000 (visitors) next weekend," Clark said.

Mount Ashland, a 7,500-foot peak, still has more than 125 inches of snow.

Snow levels in Jackson County were forecast to lower to 3,500 feet this morning. Elevations already covered in snow at as low as 4,000 or 4,500 feet were expected to have some accumulation.

"The ski slopes at Mount Ashland could get a couple of inches," said meteorologist Connie Clarstorn.

A light snowfall is forecast for tonight at as low as 2,000 feet, but no accumulation is expected. In the Rogue Valley, temperatures were forecast to be 31 degrees Tuesday morning with a freeze warning and 32 degrees on Wednesday morning.

For details on the ski area, visit .

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