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Minnesota resort plans to offer skiing in May

Ben Olson, owner of Damage Boardshop in Duluth, carves up a snowboard run at Lutsen Mountains on Sunday, April 20, while wearing shorts. Lutsen announced this week that despite rising temperatures this spring, it has plenty of base and reserve snow to stay open through May 4. Photo courtesy of Damage Boardshop

There’s a buzz going around in skiing circles about a unique opportunity up the North Shore in a little more than a week: skiing in May.

That’s the word from Lutsen Mountains marketing director Jim Vick as the resort plans to be open through May 4 with a deep base and reserve piles of snow that they usually start moving around in March if they can’t blow snow.

“We haven’t even dug into it yet,” Vick said Tuesday.

He said it will be a novelty for skiers to say they went down the slopes in May, likely the latest runs have ever been open in the state. Lutsen, 95 miles north of Duluth, has never had open runs into May, Vick said. He’s a 28-year veteran at the resort and looked into history before he arrived as well.

“That’s like a badge of honor to wear,” Vick said of the May opportunity.

Despite strong sun and high temperatures this week, managers think the snow will last. If not, they will start “snow farming,” Vick said, moving the reserve piles around. Warm days followed by below-freezing nights have helped.

More than 13 feet of snow fell on the resort this winter, 4 feet more than the average.

March and April have seen good crowds on the slopes, Vick said, large enough to make up for a drop in business during bitterly cold days in January and February.

“There’s been some pent-up demand,” Vick said of the late-season skiers.

He said the skiing on Easter Sunday was excellent.

This time of year, any skiers on the mountain are there “out of the fun of skiing so late,” Vick said. Most other ski areas in the state, including Spirit Mountain in Duluth, closed earlier this month.

Vick expects the region’s hardcore skiers to take on Lutsen come May 1.

“We are opting to remain open through the first weekend in May,” Lutsen said in its announcement. “Because we can.”