Skiers, snowboarders get out early for opening day in Whitefish


    More than 1,500 skiers and snowboarders hit the slopes when Whitefish Mountain Resort opened early Thursday morning.

    Whitefish Mountain Resort's Chair 1 did not start loading till 9:30 a.m., but people were out much earlier.

    "Spent the night here to get first chair with my friend -- like 5 a.m. -- just been waiting here," said Kalispell’s Tadhg McCarvel.

    McCarvel was with his friend Yance Hendershott, who has posted up over night before at Whitefish Mountain.

    "I've done it a couple times,” said Hendershott. “I think I've gotten first chair three times."

    "I slept in my car because I wanted to wake up on this beautiful mountain, and what's better than to wake up and ski," said Kalispell’s Caylie Williams.

    Despite the single-digit temperatures, people were ready to hit the slopes.

    "If you’re not first you’re last," said Whitefish’s Nate Doggett.

    To many skiers and boarders, opening day is a celebration and a community gathering.

    "It's like a holiday, and we are all like family, and we are just up here celebrating this opening day," Willaims told NBC Montana.

    New for Whitefish Mountain this year is three new groomers that will overall improve the quality of the runs.

    Even though the resort could only open 19 runs and five chairs, plenty of people did not seem to care.

    "There could be an inch on the ground, and I'd still be up here skiing," Williams said.

    In the last eight opening days, the mountain's only opened 100 percent once. The limited runs Thursday are pretty typical, but skiers and boarders are itching for that powder.

    "I'm looking for, yeah, just tons of powder, lots of snow,” said McCarvel. “No ice, hopefully."

    There's plenty of time, as the chairs will be loading people up for the next 121 days in the season.

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