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June Mountain Ski Area will open as scheduled this Friday and the first riders on the first chair will include a group of Lee Vining students who sold lemonade last year in an attempt to keep their beloved ski area open.
“We invited the lemonade stand kids to join us and to play hooky and they accepted,” said Julie Brown, June Mountain’s new activities director.
A full day of activities are planned for the grand reopening celebration, she said, including an inaugural bonfire during the afternoon and the reintroduction of the ski area’s mascot, “Bucky” the deer.
The ski area reopens one season after CEO Mammoth Mountain Ski Area Rusty Gregory closed the smaller hill last winter due to financial constraints, plunging a community into crisis and forcing June Mountain to reinvent itself.
On Friday, Dec. 13, that reinvention—toward a family oriented ski area and community where kids under 12 ski free—will not be fully apparent, especially since a wild windstorm last weekend bared parts of the mountain of the foot of snow that fell right before the windstorm.
Although general manager Carl Williams said MMSA’s teams of snowmakers are putting up a “Herculean” fight to open Chair 2 and Mambo, that’s about all that will be open, pending the next storm.
“We are throwing everything we have at it, and Mammoth Mountain Ski Area has opened the floodgates,” he said. “We have limited snowmaking capabilities but we are pursing that, we are using snowblowers, we are doing everything. We almost made it, but that windstorm came in and tore panels off of McCoy Station. Even with almost a foot of new snow, there wasn’t enough cover to open the whole mountain after that storm.”
However, June Mountain will open and that’s what matters to Lee Vining teacher Anna Strathman, who was the adult behind the group of students and June Mountain Ski Team members who sold lemonade last fall to raise funds to try to keep their ski mountain open, inspiring their community and shaming a corporation.
“They are so excited,” she said. “They are so looking forward to having their ski team back, and now they will.”
Mammoth Mountain Ski Area promised June Lakers last year that it would throw a vast amount of money, staff, and firepower at June Mountain and by most accounts, that is what has happened in the past few months.
Plans are in the works for snowmaking capacity, complete with new wells.
The good news, Williams said, is the hill is “just one decent storm away” from opening completely.
“We are almost ready to go,” he said.