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With all gear safely in place, zipped up and locked down, a skier eagerly heads for a place in line at the lifts during Anthony Lakesí opening weekend Saturday. CHRIS BAXTER - The Observer
ANTHONY LAKES — Anthony Lakes ski resort kicked off its 50th year on Saturday, and skiers and snowboarders alike were welcomed by plenty of new snowfall on the mountain.
The opening came two weeks later than it did a year ago, but judging by the general energy around the lodge, everyone was excited for a day on the slopes.
“Couldn’t ask for a better day,” General Manager Peter Johnson said. “It’s phenomenal out there.”
George Garcia, who has worked in the rental shop for the past five winters, echoed those sentiments.
“It’s a superb day. Everyone is really enjoying it. The diehards are finally getting their fix,” he said.
Johnson said that the turnout on Saturday was par for the course from previous years, but he added that business has steadily increased over the last five years or so.
There was no special celebration for the 50th anniversary, but Johnson said he plans on doing something in the future.
Instead, Saturday was all about playing in the snow.
Anthony Lakes has a reputation as one of the best ski resorts in the Northwest, and Saturday it was on full display.
Nat Kavanaugh was snowboarding at Anthony Lakes for just the second time, but he said he has heard a lot about the resort.
“I’ve heard how good the snow is, and it’s amazing. So nice. So far it’s living up to what I’ve heard,” said Kavanaugh, who just moved to Eastern Oregon from the Bend area, where he spent a lot of time on the slopes of Mt. Bachelor.
But newcomers and old-timers alike were enjoying what Anthony Lakes had to offer Saturday.
Brent Kearns has been skiing at Anthony Lakes for the past 30 years, and there is a reason he keeps coming back.
“Great snow and great people,” Kearns said. “It’s a hell of a mountain for it’s size. If you can ski here, you can ski any mountain in the United States. It’s heaven on earth.”
Kearns also likes the atmosphere that Anthony Lakes provides.
“It’s the best family area. It’s kid friendly. People watch out for your kids up here,” he said.
“It’s a local resort,” Garcia added. “You get to know people. You learn everyone’s names.”
Johnson said that the reason the mountain remains popular 50 years in is that people feel welcome from the second they show up.
“You get great customer service,” he said. “You come here and you’re treated as a guest. There’s a family feel and it’s affordable.
“We have a community focus, whereas big resorts are focused on the bottom line.”
That strategy must be working, because after 50 years Anthony Lakes is as popular as ever.
Day passes are currently available for $35 for adults and $16 for kids. Season passes are currently running for $475.