Everyone else in the Kingdom might have slept in yesterday, but skiers and ski area employees were up early taking advantage of the snow.

The sun rose yesterday above a cloudy Burke Mountain, with big fluffy snowflakes and temperatures in the 20s at the base, around 6 degrees up top.

The white stuff looks like it is here to stay, attracting snowboarders shredding up a storm this weekend at the resort in East Burke along with their skiing cohorts.

\"We are having a great year so far,\" said Dick Andross, general manager for the Burke Mountain ski area Saturday. That day temperatures were in the 30s and the sky was clear.

\"As always, it is weather-dependent,\" Andross said, adding that warm temperatures caused a good deal of concern a few weeks ago. But, yesterday brought plenty of snow. The mountain was packed with people by mid-morning with swarms of skiers covering the slopes and a crowd crammed into the base lodge while more people waited in line outside to get tickets.

Andross said he is especially thrilled with business so far - considering it was 60 degrees the first week of winter. The weekend after Thanksgiving was balmy, with the ground covered with grass.

But this holiday weekend up at the mountain, the volume of visitors promises a good trend.

As far as distant travelers go, cars from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey filled the parking lot. There were license plates from as far away as Wyoming and Virginia.

Quite a few visitors said they were there for the New Year\'s holiday.

\"We have a New Year\'s tradition,\" said Ann Chamberlain of Ellicottville, N.Y.

She and five others meet at Burke every year to ring in the new year on the slopes. Chamberlain said she first skied Burke as a UVM student and really likes it.

Meryl and Meaghan Stone of Hebron, Conn., also have been coming to Burke for many years. The teens, 16 and 18, both learned to ski on Burke at the age of 3. On Sunday, they were warming their bare feet in front of the fire in the base lodge after taking a few runs down the hill earlier that morning.

It may have been busy yesterday, but New Year\'s Day is traditionally slow for skiers, which Andross said lends itself to a good time for anyone who does choose to come.

\"It is a good time to come skiing because there are no lines,\" he said.

Every weekend has music or other entertainment, including New Year\'s Eve.

This year, Hootchie Lombardo will help late-night partiers bring in 2002.

Another highlight for tonight will be a bonfire after dark followed by a torch light parade beginning at 7:30 p.m.


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