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Hilltop closed, Arctic Valley shuts it down Saturday

Mike Campbell
The Merry Marmot spring festival at Arctic Valley ski area April 2, 2011.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The Merry Marmot spring festival at Arctic Valley ski area on Saturday April 2, 2011.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The Merry Marmot spring festival at Arctic Valley ski area on Saturday April 2, 2011.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The Merry Marmot spring festival at Arctic Valley ski area on Saturday April 2, 2011.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Shea Kirkpatrick and Matthew Terry compete in the kids snow shoe race at the Merry Marmot spring festival at Arctic Valley ski area on Saturday April 2, 2011. Terry fell across the finish line just ahead of Kirkpatrick.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Tyson Ward competes in the Big Wild Air competition at the Merry Marmot spring festival at Arctic Valley ski area on Saturday April 2, 2011.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Paul Twardock leads a group of tubers down the slope at the Merry Marmot spring festival at Arctic Valley ski area on Saturday April 2, 2011. Twadock finished in third place.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The Merry Marmot spring festival at Arctic Valley ski area on Saturday April 2, 2011.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The Merry Marmot spring festival at Arctic Valley ski area on Saturday April 2, 2011.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The Merry Marmot spring festival at Arctic Valley ski area on Saturday April 2, 2011.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The Merry Marmot spring festival at Arctic Valley ski area on Saturday April 2, 2011.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The Merry Marmot spring festival at Arctic Valley ski area on Saturday April 2, 2011.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The Merry Marmot spring festival at Arctic Valley ski area on Saturday April 2, 2011.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The Merry Marmot spring festival at Arctic Valley ski area on Saturday April 2, 2011.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The Merry Marmot spring festival at Arctic Valley ski area on Saturday April 2, 2011.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The Merry Marmot spring festival at Arctic Valley ski area on Saturday April 2, 2011.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The Merry Marmot spring festival at Arctic Valley ski area on Saturday April 2, 2011.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The Merry Marmot spring festival at Arctic Valley ski area on Saturday April 2, 2011.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The Merry Marmot spring festival at Arctic Valley ski area on Saturday April 2, 2011.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The Merry Marmot spring festival at Arctic Valley ski area on Saturday April 2, 2011.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The Merry Marmot spring festival at Arctic Valley ski area on Saturday April 2, 2011.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The Merry Marmot spring festival at Arctic Valley ski area on Saturday April 2, 2011.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The Merry Marmot spring festival at Arctic Valley ski area on Saturday April 2, 2011.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The Merry Marmot spring festival at Arctic Valley ski area on Saturday April 2, 2011.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The Merry Marmot spring festival at Arctic Valley ski area on Saturday April 2, 2011.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The Merry Marmot spring festival at Arctic Valley ski area on Saturday April 2, 2011.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News

Bye-bye winter.

Arctic Valley and Hilltop, Anchorage's two ski areas, are closing shop.

Sunday was Hilltop's final day of the season and Arctic Valley will wrap things up Saturday.

"The season did not leave a lot of snow behind (but) the snow has been insanely fun in the afternoons as the sun warms it up," said Richard Todd, the marketing coordinator at Arctic Valley.

The season was a short one at Arctic Valley, which didn't open until Jan. 29 because of thin early-season snow.

"Since we don't have snow making, we have to wait for that natural snow to come,'' Todd said. "After the Thanksgiving rain and the January rain, the mountain just wasn't ready."

As a result, there were only 21 weekend days of skiing all season.

But that was more than enough for the Anchorage Ski Club, which operates Arctic Valley, to celebrate the season with Merry Marmot day on Saturday, complete with kayak races, a downhill dummy launch, big-air competitions and inner tube races.

Farther south in Girdwood, weeks of skiing remain at Alyeska.

The last day of the regular season is April 24, with weekend skiing often available in May if conditions permit. The popular spring carnival and Slush Cup are scheduled for April 23.

Up north, Hap Wurlitzer at Hatcher Pass Lodge reports "heaps of snow" remaining, with trails still being groomed up to Independence Mine. That will end shortly, but people can still visit the lodge to soak in spring sunshine amid the snow and throw in a few cross-country loops.

"The snow's not going to go until mid-May," Wurlitzer said. "The tracks might be getting faster with it freezing at night and melting during the day."

Reach reporter Mike Campbell at mcampbell@adn.com or 257-4329.


By MIKE CAMPBELL
mcampbell@adn.com