Snow brings big business in the Sierra

FRESNO, Calif.

It's only October, and the Sierra ski resorts see this early snow as a sign of good season ahead. In fact, Boreal had their grooming machines going Tuesday gearing up for what might be opening day by the end of the week.

"It does get a lot of people excited. The earlier we get the snow the more excited people get. They start buying ski gear. They start buying passes," Jon Slaugther said. "We are setting our target on Friday. It's a little too early to tell, but we're going to try our best to open."

Boreal opened Woodward Tahoe this summer, a place where people can get their fix of extreme sports.

It includes some runs that mimic slopes -- Chris St. Martin saw the snow outside and thought this was a great opportunity to brush up on snowboarding without getting hurt.

"Especially if you're trying to learn new tricks," Chris St. Martin said. "If you're going into a foam pit... less consequences. If you're trying something new on the hill, it's totally different. You get hurt!"

There's the danger, though, of another season like last year when snow storms also blanketed the Sierra in October, then it remained balmy through the holidays. Tahoe-area businesses hope to make for lost revenue. Already shovels, heaters and ice melters were big sellers.

Ace Hardware Manager Steve Stevenson said, "We're looking forward to a better season this year. The early snow is going to be helpful. If it keeps up, we'll be able to make up some ground that we didn't have last year at this time."

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