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One Midwest Ski Area Calls It Quits, Two Get A Reprieve, Another Hopeful

Porcupine Mt.

Some good news for a couple of Michigan ski areas – Porcupine Mountain and Otsego Ski Club – that won’t be closed for the 2012/13 season. Minnesota’s Detroit Mountain Recreation Area is looking to reopen after an eight year hiatus.

Norway Mountain, in Michigan’s UP, is calling it quits after 20-some years under the ownership of Mike and Mary Gotstein. They were making improvements and additions to the slopes in recent years.  No doubt last winter’s poor season helped push them in that direction. It’s difficult for a ski area-only to make it in a rural area with a small population.

Porcupine Mountain, also in Michigan’s UP near Ironwood, was set to close when Mt. Bohemia, about two hours away, declined to operate the state-owned area this season, but the State of Michigan was able to strike a deal with nearby Gogebic Community College to run the 400-acre ski hill. The college will operate the area through the school’s ski area management program expanding opportunities for students to participate in an established, recognized winter tourism business. It’s one of few colleges in the nation to offer such a degree.  

A new rope-tow is being constructed across the top of the hill to provide skiers access to the hill’s entire western slopes, which they didn’t have before without some hiking. It will connect areas and save hiking across the top. The area will initially be open daily from Dec. 15 through the holidays, then open Friday through Monday for the remainder of the season.

Otsego Club, a private ski club near Gaylord, Mich., was slated to be closed this season for the first time in decades, but Osprey Recreational Properties, who owns the resort, reached a preliminary agreement with a couple of club members who will operate the ski club this winter. Full operations including lodging and meals will be restored for winter. Osprey had planned to continue operating the club during golf season but not winter.

The club was open in past seasons to the public on a limited basis certain week nights. There was no word yet if that practice would continue, but Otsego Club is offering what they call Test Drive Memberships, starting at $495 for the 2012/13 season. It offers complimentary lift tickets for two days for your immediate family on your first visit to the resort, complimentary cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding, unlimited visits, and access to the entire club with no black-out dates.

Detroit Mountain Recreation Area, near Detroit Lakes, Minn., had operated for nearly 50 years teaching hundreds of area residents how to ski during that time, but has remained closed since 2004. A group of residents has asked the city council to help fund the reopening along with funds from DNR grants, tax credits and donations totaling a little over $6 million. The Detroit Mountain Recreation Area (DMRA) non-profit is spearheading the effort to reopen the ski hill. Not only will Detroit Mountain be open for downhill skiing in the winter, plans call for camping, hiking and biking in the warmer seasons and cross country skiing and tubing in the winter. They hope to reopen for the 1213/14 season if fund raising proceeds as anticipated.

Photo: Pocupine Mountain Ski Area (Melinda Moen)


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