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After bitter cold, “warm” weekend brings hundreds of skiers to Dubuque

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sundown
A boarder rides up the chairlift Sunday at Sundown Resort

DUBUQUE, Iowa (KWWL) - As a coat of snow blanketed roads across Eastern Iowa Sunday afternoon, skiers and snowboarders were out in force on the slopes of Sundown Mountain Resort in Dubuque.

The mountain was back up and running this weekend after closing down for a few days during the arctic blast earlier this month.

"A lot of people were finally able to get outside and do something after the cold," Sundown Mountain General Manager Mark Gordon said. "We had to close down for a few days. Our general rule is minus 20, perceived temperature."

The frigid temperatures kept just about everyone except the diehards iced out.

This weekend, there was barely an available spot in the parking lot.

"You get a little addicted to this kind of excitement," Gordon said. "You can sense the energy around with people out here as a family."

Kelly Main and his family were planning to hit the slopes two weeks ago but delayed their trip because of the crushing cold.

This weekend, they made the four hour drive from the Missouri border.

"This is perfect skiing weather," he said. "A little sunshine would be okay today, but we'll take what we can get."

Seven of his grandkids learned to ski for the first time. Now, he said he said getting them off the mountain is an uphill battle.

"They won't be skied out for a long time," he said. "Two of the boys stayed out until 8:30 p.m. yesterday."

With temperatures creeping back into the mid-20's Sunday, Gordon said the trails are in the best condition he has seen in years.

"We have gotten several sizeable snowfalls, and the actual ski conditions have not been this good in years," he said. "The fact that it has not rained or all of the things that could happen in an Iowa winter, it has been nearly ideal."

This ski season looks a lot different in these COVID times. The mountain has contactless ski equipment rentals. You reserve and pay for everything the night before, and when you show up, it is waiting outside the ski lodge for you.

"Learning how to hand out rental equipment outside to keep people out of our buildings was a big challenge," Gordon said. "You will see people who got their gear and were able to get on the lift in eight minutes because of it."

The official ski season at Sundown runs through March 14, but Gordon said it could be extended if conditions are right.

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Daniel Perreault

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