Red Lodge Mountain breaks ski records

2012-01-02T12:05:00Z 2014-08-25T15:04:31Z Red Lodge Mountain breaks ski recordsBy CLAIR JOHNSON Of The Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette

Red Lodge Mountain broke records for skier numbers this holiday season, thanks to plentiful snow.

“We’re pretty blessed. We’re the only place that’s had a good amount of snow,” said Paul Otsu, marketing coordinator, on Monday.

Skier numbers were tapering off Monday as the holiday drew to a close, but on three days since Dec. 22, the ski hill had more than 2,500 skiers, Otsu said.

The record had been about 2,400 skiers daily, he said, and that usually happens during Red Lodge’s Winter Carnival event in late February or early March, he said.

Red Lodge had about 20 inches of snow over the holidays. “We have seen 13 inches in the last seven days. That helped a lot,” Otsu said.

The only problem came last Wednesday, when a two-person chair on the Willow Creek lift detached from its cable in high winds and fell 30 feet to the ground, injuring two Billings teenagers. Both 17-year-old snowboarders were treated and released from Beartooth Billings Clinic that night.

The chairlift, which carries skiers almost 4,000 feet from just above the base area’s Show Off Alley run up to the Midway Chalet, reopened two days later.

An investigation found that wind blew the chair on the incoming side, causing a torquing motion, Jeff Schmidt, the ski hill manager, said earlier. An inspection of the lift and all of the lift’s chairs found no mechanical problems.

Even with the chair accident and a few days of wind, the ski hill had a successful holiday period, Otsu said.

Red Lodge’s traditional skier base is from North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota because it is the first resort heading west, Otsu said.

But because of the snow, he said, “This year we’re seeing a lot of people from Bozeman and even as far away as Utah and Colorado.”

Contact Clair Johnson at cjohnson@billingsgazette.com or 657-1282.

Contact Clair Johnson at cjohnson@billingsgazette.com or 657-1282.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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