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Skiers, snowboarders brave bitter temps for Bridger Bowl season opener

By Katherine Mozzone, KTVM Reporter, kmozzone@ktvm.com
Published On: Dec 06 2013 06:52:29 PM MST
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Friday morning, 8am at Bridger Bowl, it was 19 below zero.

"20 below is kind of the lowest temperature we'll operate in, anything colder than that, we'll wait until it warms up so, that's kind of the magic number for us, machinery, equipment-wise, as well as just for people," explains Bridger Bowl Marketing Director Doug Wales.

It didn't stop eager skiers and snowboarders from lining up early to catch the first lifts of the season.

"8:15, we were on the lot," says snowboarder Cory Babb.

Babb and Forrest McIlwain say the season is off to a great start but tell us it's impossible to ignore the bitter cold.

"A little sticky with how cold it is," says Babb.

Luckily, the two dressed appropriately.

"Layers , lots of layers, long johns," says Babb.

"I can feel my toes now so, that's good," adds McIlwain.

Susanna Cork also came prepared. She says she checked the weather beforehand and knew what to expect.

"I went and bought the balaclava that I have on and glove liners and I have foot warmers and hand warmers," Cork says.

Cork says she's not above taking a break to warm up but, for now, she's focused on her first run of the season.

"I am ecstatic about the start of the season. I have been counting down the days since the end of last year," says Cork.

Even with a hat or a helmet, a balaclava, several layers and a good pair of gloves or mittens, ski patrollers tell us it's still possible to get frostbite. That's why they say it's important to know your limitations and pay attention to others.

"Your fingers and toes, they may go to blocks, instead of feeling the digits of them so, that's a concern," says Bridger Bowl Snow Safety Director Richard Griffin.

Griffin tells us, on days like this one, it's especially important to ski with a partner, cover all exposed skin and take breaks.

"Go ahead and get some hot chocolate, warm up, check your toes, check your fingers. No reason to push it on day one," says Griffin.

If you suspect you may be getting frostbite Griffin says, "just put your gloved hand over the exposed area that might be white, that'll bring back some life to it."

Despite the freezing temperatures, folks like Cork are looking forward to another ski season.

"Hopefully, a little warmer than this but, if not, I don't mind too much, it's just great to be out here," says Cork.

Skiers and snowboarders who hit the slopes at Bridger Bowl also had the chance to try out two new lifts.

The two triple chairs, Alpine and Powder Park, replaced the old Alpine riblet.

The ski area also thinned out beetle kill trees, creating new runs.

Bridger Bowl says they've already received lots of great feedback.

On Saturday morning, they'll host an official ribbon cutting at 9:30a at the new lifts.