Hundreds of skiers hit the local slopes Thursday -- and thousands are expected by the weekend -- to take full advantage of the season's first significant snowfall.
Area ski resorts say the 8 to 10 inches of natural snow that blanketed their mountains were the boost they needed this Christmas week, traditionally one of the busiest of the ski season.
"The timing couldn't be better -- like getting a late Christmas present," said Sherry Roberts, general manager at Bousquet Ski Area in Pittsfield. "The ski instructors were busy all day and lines began forming early for the night skiing."
Brian Fairbank, CEO of Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort in Hancock, expected a "blockbuster" of skiing Thursday night that would carry over for the rest of Christmas week.
"We should have a strong day on Friday and a great weekend," he said. "This is a white gift toward helping the ski areas recover from last year."
Fairbank was referring to the virtually snowless winter of 2011-12. The milder-than-normal temperatures and lack of natural snow ruined the mood for many skiers -- despite ski areas' abilities to make snow.
The real white stuff always makes a difference in boosting attendance, according to Jamie Carr, general manager at Otis Ridge Ski Area.
"We're off to a slow start with no natural snow, but this [storm] will help a lot," Carr said. "[Friday] and the weekend is when we will see the benefits of the snow."
Plenty of natural snow also makes for the best ski conditions, according to Roberts.
"Deep powder in the Berkshires doesn't happen too often," she said.
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