Mt. Ashland winding down for the season

Mount Ashland is slated to shut down its season after skiers and snowboarders are done with their fun on Sunday but, as it has in the past two years, will extend it another week if more than 1,500 people turn out this weekend.

The so-called "spring challenge" is likely to be successful, as 1,800 showed up last weekend &

and this coming weekend is supposed to have sunny weather, says Mount Ashland marketing director Rick Saul.

However, Saul cautions, "We end up fighting the good weather, too. If it's beautiful, we're competing against other outdoor activities, like gardening, golfing, riding bikes and even a little bocce in the park."

The extra week, in which Mount Ashland executives cut costs by taking over routine food service and chair lift duties, helps bring in some extra cash for the operation, which lost four days this season to blizzards and one to a road closure &

plus the season's retrenchment due to Tuesday closures.

Saul will calculate attendance levels after season shutdown, but says it will be "a good year" in the high 80,000 area, compared to a little more than 90,000 last season.

If it goes the extra week through April 20, it will do it with rentals and food-beverage operations, but not lessons, terrain park or its Balcony Bistro, said Saul.

Last year's extended week found human resources director Julie Carr running the caf&

233; cash register, Saul parking cars and busing tables and special events manager Mike Dadaos running the top of Windsor lift.

To let patrons know the attendance level on its spring challenge, the visitor count will be displayed on and on a thermometer graphic in the lodge.

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