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Wednesday

July 2014

30

Not just a weekend activity

Head to the hills for some after school fun

The siren of a snowfall calls to boarders, downhill skiers and tubers alike who grab their gear and head out to enjoy their winter past times.

Locally, a favorite spot to hit the powder is at the Highlands of Olympia ski hill where Casey Bingham and partner Brent Milkey are in their second year of running the Oconomowoc ski hill.

Bingham said the recent holiday break was a busy one for the hill.

"It was overwhelmingly better than last year, due to the snow we got in mid-December," he said.

A new option for the hill this year was the introduction of snow tubing.

"We opened the snow tubing on Dec. 27 and that's been doing really well for us," he explained.

Highlands of Olympia offers four lanes of snow tubing serviced by a handle tow that pulls you to the top while you sit in your tube. The snow tubing area offers a 60-foot vertical drop and nearly 1000 feet of slope.

"On a busy Saturday or Sunday we have between 250 and 300 with tubing, skiers and snowboarding. We have 60 tubes, and all 60 tubes were out. It's a challenge to drive people to midweek; we need to get people to think about midweek, after school and after dinner fun," the proprietor said.

Bingham said they are using a new snow groomer on the runs and that skiers have appreciated it.

"It makes a smooth surface and the first day we used it, people said it was better powder, which is definitely what we want," he explained.

Also, some new skis and helmets are available for rental, he added.

For snowboarders, Olympia offers a terrain park with features that include jumps, bumps and metal rails.

"The kids really like it," Bingham said.

The terrain park is very popular, he noted.

"One night there was no one on the rest of the hill; 90 percent of the people were in the terrain park," he pointed out.

While most of the snowboarders are in high school and middle school, Bingham said, he urged others to try it.

"It's something for all ages," he said.

The duo in charge is hoping the business is on the upswing.

According to its website, both Bingham, 25, and Milkey, 26, attended Gogebic Community College in Ironwood, Michigan and completed the school's ski area management program.

They have worked at resorts locally in the Midwest, and also in the western United States in Colorado and Montana, gaining experience in all areas of outdoor operations and management of ski areas before taking the Oconomowoc ski hill under new management.

 Highlands of Olympia is at 965 Cannon Gate Road in Oconomowoc. The ski area is serviced by two double chairlifts and one rope tow and has snow-making capabilities on 100 percent of its terrain.

Bingham and Milkey took over management of the ski hill after the former owner relinquished the property to ISB Bank after filing for receivership and owing $2 million to the bank.

The duo has a lease until April of this year.

"It takes a lot of work to do thing right," Bingham said.

For more information on lift tickets and tubing, visit www.skihighlandsofolympia.com.

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