Swiss Valley opens after mild winter stalls season start

JONES, Mich. --- After a simple scan of the Swiss Valley slopes, it appeared to be business as usual. Boarders shredded snow-covered hills as skis glided through fresh powder.

"Today, it finally feels like winter -- snow and cold weather," said Jamie Stafne, the marketing manager for Swiss Valley Ski and Snowboard Area.

On Sunday, the Jones, Mich., resort re-opened after rainy weather closed slopes on Saturday. The official season began on Friday, due to the mild winter. December was eerily quiet, says Stafne.

"What we do during that time is we try to keep the cost down, and we only do things we need to do to pay attention to cash flow," she added.

Typically, Swiss Valley opens in December. But quelling any worries were late season starts of yesteryear.

"There's never been a winter when we haven't opened, so it was bound to come," said Cameron Schuelke, a Swiss Valley veteran since he was four-years-old.

Snow makers maintain fresh powder during operating and after-hours. Every "gun" in the park turns on 7 p.m. to cover the hills, in case temperatures thaw slightly.

"Some days are better than others when you're in a seasonal business," remarked Stafne. "Hopefully, winter is here to stay."

Swiss Valley will be closed on Monday, allowing staff to rebuild the base. To check conditions and hours, visit the Swiss Valley