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Cypress has earliest opening ever

West Vancouver's Cypress Mountain kicked off its ski season Tuesday, marking the earliest opening in the resort's history.

West Vancouver's Cypress Mountain kicked off its ski season Tuesday, marking the earliest opening in the resort's history.

The unseasonable start, which allowed access to two blue (intermediate) runs Tuesday morning, was made possible by an intensive snowmaking effort and a 15-centimetre snowfall Monday night, according to mountain staff. Cypress is planning to get more areas up and running later in the week, including a beginner run, they said.

"We've got (the equivalent of) 24 football fields with a foot of snow on them," said Joffrey Koeman, the resort's director of sales and marketing. "I was just out at the lift this morning, and I can't say the vibe has been any better. People are grinning ear to ear."

Cypress's neighbours, Grouse Mountain and Mount Seymour, remained closed to skiers Tuesday, but both said they expected that to change in the near future. "We're just keeping an eye on the forecast," said Grouse spokeswoman Sarah Lusk. "We, like everybody else, know it's going to be an awesome season."

At the moment, Grouse has a base of approximately 37 cm, she said, and it generally doesn't open until it hits about 60 cm, but with snow in the forecast and the resort's snowmakers at the ready, Lusk expected it would hit the threshold soon.

Seymour had been planning to open Nov. 25, but the recent weather and a positive outlook from Environment Canada have persuaded the mountain to revisit that plan with an eye to moving up the date.

"Next week, we'll have a firmer answer on when we'll be opening," said Seymour spokeswoman Julie Mulligan on Tuesday. "There has been a lot of snow, especially yesterday; I think there was about 12 cm. It's snowing again right now."

The resort's base was at 21 centimetres. It generally opens when it hits 70, she said.

All three hills said they saw near-record snowfalls last year thanks to La Nina ocean current, which pummelled the coast with wintry weather and kept the resorts in snow well into the spring. With the system expected to return again this year, they were anticipating another unusually good season.

"The news that La Nina is back is fantastic," said Lusk. "Last year was awesome; we were skiing and riding until June."

jweldon@nsnews.com

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