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Ski areas cheering in Idaho

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IDAHO FALLS — With the holiday season winding down, area ski resorts have plenty to cheer about.

Though it will take a few days to calculate all the numbers, Kelly Canyon ticket sales manager Margo Smith said this season has been one of the resort's best so far.

"Every day was really good," she said.

Smith said an early opening this year helped bring in the crowds. Winter storms over Thanksgiving allowed the resort to open the second weekend in December, a week ahead of schedule.

"If the season keeps going as it is, we should be on track," she said.

Grand Targhee Resort across the border into Wyoming has also kept busy the past few weeks.

Resort spokeswoman Susie Barnett-Bushong said some of Targhee's boost is due to a new lift. Still, for a resort known for its limitless powder, the snowpack is not quite where it should be because of a late start in November.

The resort usually gets 80 inches of snow by the end of November, but this year it had closer to 40 inches, she said. It had 53 inches on top on Wednesday.

After drought weather last winter, other Idaho ski areas enjoyed an ample amount of snow.

Sun Valley reported about 51 inches atop Bald Mountain on Wednesday. The venerable resort faced a poor Thanksgiving holiday with visitors' fears about terrorist attacks and weather too balmy to start up its snowmaking system.

But Sun Valley Co. had about the same bookings over Christmas that it had last holiday season.

Brundage Mountain near McCall boasted 61 inches at the summit. Bogus Basin above Boise received one inch to have 64 inches. Pomerelle near Burley attracts plenty of snow each winter and reported 133 inches.

To the north, Schweitzer near Sandpoint had 98 inches.

Brian Brong with the National Weather Service said most ski areas have close to normal snowpacks for this time of year. But a lot of snow must fall before reservoirs fill again, however.

"We're going to need the snowpack to hang around for a good part of the spring," he said.