Giants Ridge: "Life Blood" And Winter Tourist Destination

By KBJR News 1

November 25, 2011 Updated Nov 25, 2011 at 7:37 PM CDT

BIWABIK, MN (Northland's NewsCenter)---Snowboarders, Cross Country and Alpine Skiers are hitting the slopes at Giants Ridge Golf and Ski Resort in Biwabik this weekend.

For tourists it marks the start of the season, but the resorts economic impact will help sustain local economies year round.

Gene and Yvonne Berg, two recreational skiers, spent the days leading up to the opening weekend of Giants Ridge preparing their gear.

"Skiing is such a passion for us that we think about it year round," Gene Berg said. "We do things in the summer to get in shape for it. So now, this is our time of year."

It's a passion many share, 90,000 visitors come to Giants Ridge during the winter season.

"Giants Ridge is really our jewel up here, the destination spot that really attracts other folks to come up here in the winter," Commissioner Tony Sertich of the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board said. "It is really the life blood of our winter tourist destinations for northern Minnesota."

During the ski season, Giants Ridge brings $14-18 million to the local economy.

"They are passing through Gilbert, Aurora, Biwabik, Hoyt Lakes and Virginia," Linda Johnson, Managing Director said. "So the economic impact is felt throughout the region."

On top of the 5 feet of natural snow the mountains receive each year, grooming crews use 65 million gallons of water and make enough snow to cover 200 acres of mountain slopes.

To date, they've made nearly 5 million cubic feet of snow.

"Start at 4 a.m., groom until about noon so everything gets hit once a day, sometimes in real heavy traffic, we'll go out and hit it again in the afternoon," Gary Nappa, Grooming, Snow and Lift Maintenance Operator said.

The ski resort will make snow all season long and expects to be open seven days a week, beginning Dec. 16.

The snow tubing park is expected to be open in December.

Posted to the web: Jennifer Walch