If you're a skier or snowboarder, you've probably been looking forward to winter for a long time. We set out to see how local snowbirds are prepping for the season, and how one of the top ski hills in the Midwest is getting ready for a busy winter.
The ski runs at Granite Peak may be snow-free for now, but don't let that fool you. Crews here have been gearing up for this year's ski season since the last one ended.
"This is a great time. This is very exciting for us. It's what we work for all summer and prepare for all fall," says Vicki Baumann, operations manager at Granite Peak in Rib Mountain.
In fact, starting next week they'll let the snow guns loose on the ski runs, as long as the weather cooperates. They hope to have the runs ready to go by Thanksgiving.
"If we get the cold temperatures, we can make snow. We can make snow around the clock, weather permitting," Baumann says.
Crews at the hill aren't the only ones ready. We found plenty of anxious skiers trading in their old equipment and scoping out some new stuff at this year's Ski Swap at Wausau West High School.
"It's pre-season, so it's time for everyone to be thinking skiing. It comes fast sometimes, we want to be prepared," says Greg Kresse, a member of the Wausau Nordic Ski Club, one of the sponsors of this year's Ski Swap.
That means getting your equipment updated and fixed, if you haven't done so already, and getting your body in shape.
But some skiers we talked with are way past that point and just raring to go.
"I just bought new skis, new bindings, gonna pick up some poles today. My boots are still good," says Justin Scharer.
"[I've been ready] probably since last summer, wishing there was snow. It's getting colder, hopefully, the snow will come soon," says Stacy Waraska.
Granite Peak says their season pass sales have been brisk this fall, and they're starting to hire employees for the winter. They also hope to draw in lots of skiers from outside the state, which means a healthy boost to the Wausau economy this winter.
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