Community volunteers prepare for the opening of a ski and snowboard trail

DULUTH, MN. (CBS 3 Duluth) – After the region’s warm weather delayed its snow production, the Chester Bowl ski and snowboard hill opened Wednesday for the 2021-2022 season.

For 11-year-old Inara Eltinkhourigan, the opening day of the hill was exciting.

“I learned to ski here and I couldn’t have done what I’m doing today without this place,” Eltinkhourigan said. “I think the caddies here and the volunteers here are amazing and they do a really good job of helping people learn to ski and snowboard.

The ski area is a city park and trail in Duluth, but is operated by the non-profit Chester Bowl Improvement Club. They provide affordable and accessible winter recreation opportunities to the community, including skiing and snowboarding lessons.

These lessons and other community initiatives are made possible through thousands of volunteer hours each season and through donations.

To kick off the season, Essentia presented organizers with a $25,000 grant to support infrastructure and programming.

“A grant like this helps us plan for the future,” said Dave Schaeffer, executive director of Chester Bowl. “To help us not only run programs today, but also dream big things for tomorrow to serve children for generations to come.”

Essentia officials said they donated the money to Chester Bowl because the recreation site promotes a healthy lifestyle for the Duluth community.

The hill usually aims to open around the second weekend in December, but this year’s weather has caused some delays.

“This winter was a challenge because the warm temperatures kept us from making snow, and the rain storm a week ago wiped out the snow we had,” Schaeffer said.

Thanks to their two snowmobiles and the hard work of staff and volunteers, the hill was finally able to open just in time for the local school districts’ winter vacation.

Organizers hope the opening will bring families outside and onto the slopes, which Eltinkhourigan echoed.

“If you want to learn to ski or snowboard you should do it here, it’s an amazing place and I love it,” she said.

Weather permitting, Chester Bowl plans to keep the hill open until mid-March.

To learn more about Chester Bowl’s ski and snowboard programs, click here.

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