Finally: New Snow Boosts Spirits at Sierra Ski Resorts

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SUGAR BOWL, CA - That wet storm may have fouled a few school schedules and made the morning commute a little more interesting, but up in the Sierra where ski resorts have been struggling through a dry winter, it was nothing but good news.

Sugar Bowl on the west side of Donner Summit was closed Wednesday. It was actually raining.

But then came colder temperatures and snow. That's changed everything.

"It's the best day of the year as far as I'm concerned,." said a smiling Alan Rosenbloom who made the trip up from his home in Nevada City.

Actually everyone seemed to be smiling at this high Sierra resort. In itself that's something of a change.

"It's been challenging," says Patti Jensen of Grass Valley. "They actually done a good job with what they've had."

Like most others, Sugar Bowl has been able to keep open this winter, mostly by making its own snow.

But getting some of the real stuff makes a difference.

"Oh yeah," says Landon Barlow of Washoe Valley, "Mother Nature's is the best stuff there ever is especially here in the Sierra."

"We've actually had great conditions skiing top to bottom on the man made," says Sugar Bowl Marketing Director John Monson, "but when you see Mother Nature deliver you think powder skiing and that will helps people coming up and it makes it look like winter. That's always a good thing too."

The rain was eventually a good thing, helping build a base for the seven to nine inches of snow that followed, It's the kind of thing Monson would have liked to have been commenting on a couple of months ago..

"Normally we're talking about these wet storms building a good base earlier in the season, but better late than never."

Elsewhere the snow hasn't yet turned things around.

Sugar Bowl also operates the huge cross country ski area at Royal Gorge just down the road. No artificial snow here. It will need more help.

Monson says if, as expected there's more snow tonight, they'll reassess things tomorrow.

The clock is ticking on this ski season, but this storm has given skiers and snowboarders new hope.

"I hope to be skiing into April," says Barlow.

There is one or two potential bonuses to this late season restart however.

At least for the moment, the slopes are uncrowded and the ski shops are offering clearance sales and discounts.

Now all skiers and snowboarders need is more storms and a long slow slide into spring.