Our Top Ten Matchups in Our Midwest Race to Open Bracket

With snowmaking temperatures quickly arriving in the Midwest, the race to open is heating up! In case you missed it, last week, we held a live stream on our Instagram page where we filled out our entire race to open bracket. There were quite a few exciting matchups, and we wanted to share our official picks with you.



Where Can I Get A Bracket?

If you are interested in filling out a bracket of your own, you can download the printable PDF by clicking here. Additionally, you'll find all of the rules and score ranking at www.midwestskiers.com/racetoopen. Although October 25th has come and gone, we would still encourage you to participate as it is a ton of fun!


Brackets Are Just For Fun

This bracket is purely for fun. Just because a ski area opens before or after another does not mean a ski area is better in any way. A lot of this depends on a ski area's general location and how lucky they get with early-season weather. So have fun and relax; your local resort will open as soon as they are able.


How The Seeding Works

Next to each of the ski area's names, you will see a seed number. This seed was generated using the order that each ski resort came in last year. So, for example, since Wild Mountain was the first ski area open, they are seeded number one. The only exception to this was Ski Brule. Since Ski Brule did not open last season because of COVID-19, we did the best to give them a seed based on the opening dates of surrounding areas.





Things We Noticed Right Away

The first thing that we noticed was how poorly the lower Michigan resorts did last season. Unfortunately, mother nature was not kind to them last season as temperatures were continuously above freezing until the beginning of December. That said, we believed that many of the Michigan resorts were under seeded.


We also took a lot of notes on the general attitude of resorts. For example, many ski areas focus on opening with more terrain versus others that want to get open as soon as possible. This element, along with general weather patterns, latitude, & snowmaking capacity, all played an essential role as we worked through our bracket. And when push came to shove, we relied on last year's opening date to determine where to place our bets.


Some Notable Matchups

As we worked our way through our bracket, some choices were more evident than others. Since we can't go through every matchup individually (unless, of course, you want to twenty-page blog post.) So we decided to pick out ten that got us thinking.


Boyne Highlands (33) vs. Nub's Nob (32) - First Round


The battle against neighbors! These ski areas both face each other and are less than two miles apart. So if the snowguns are blasting at one resort, you know the other will know about it! The exciting thing about this matchup was the difference in weather between these two ski areas was not a factor. For most matchups, the weather could be dramatically different across the two resorts, but being only two miles from each other, this wasn't a factor here.


Who We Picked: Nub's Nob


Why We Picked Them: This was a tough one and could go either way, but at the end of the day, we felt that the number of fixed poled mounted snowguns was the difference.


When to Watch for the Winner: End of November



Mt. Holly (29) vs. Bittersweet (36) - First Round


The same ownership matchup! Both Mt. Holly and Bittersweet are owned by the same company (Wisconsin Resorts Inc) and are only about one hundred and fifty miles from each other. Both resorts make their snowguns in-house and have plenty of them to fire up. Given their ownership and general location are near identical, this matchup was a tough call. Looking at last season, Mt. Holly opened on December 9th, while Bittersweet opened on December 17th.


Who We Picked: Mt. Holly


Why We Picked Them: We went back and forth on this one, but in the end relied on historical opening data along with Mt. Holly being a little more North.


When to Watch for the Winner: End of November



Perfect North (31) vs. Boyne Mountain (34) - First Round


Upset alert! Seeing Boyne Mountain so lowly seeded was a bit of a shock to us, as they are constantly pushing to open as early as possible. But last season was tough for lower Michigan. On the other hand, although down in southern Indiana, Perfect North is not a resort to sleep on. They have plenty of snowmaking firepower and are constantly pushing to open as early as possible. Last season they beat Boyne Mountain out, with Perfect opening six days before Boyne on December 10th.


Who We Picked: Boyne Mountain


Why We Picked Them: We think last year was an odd year and out of the normal for Boyne Mountain. We believe this season will bring more favorable weather to Michigan and think Boyne will take this one.


When to Watch for the Winner: End of November



Tyrol Basin (14) vs. Seven Oaks (19) - Second Round


This one is closer than you think. Most may look at this matchup and think Iowa versus Wisconsin; that's a no-brainer, but not so fast! Last season, these resorts opened only three days from each other. Although Tyrol Basin sits a little more North, Seven Oaks is much further West, meaning they may get a crack at snowmaking sooner.


Who We Picked: Tyrol Basin


Why We Picked Them: Being North pays off here. We think Seven Oaks will have a couple of cold fronts miss them. This, coupled with Tyrol's aggressive snowmaking attitude, pays off with a victory in this matchup.


When to Watch for the Winner: Middle to End of November



Alpine Valley-WI (16) vs. Nordic Mountain (17) - Second Round


A close Wisconsin Matchup! In fact, last season, these resorts opened on the same day - December 3rd! Talk about splitting hairs here. Alpine Valley has a ton of snowmaking firepower! They make their snowguns in-house and have plenty to boot, but being a little future south - will they get the temperatures? On the other hand, Nordic has a more technology-based system with plenty of fully automated guns, and they do sit over one hundred miles north of Alpine Valley.

Who We Picked: Alpine Valley-WI


Why We Picked Them: Alpine Valley has the firepower! They are up there as having one of the most impressive systems in the Midwest. If they have a brief window of snowmaking temperatures, they can make enough to open, and we think that's what happens in this matchup.


When to Watch for the Winner: Middle to End of November



Granite Peak (14) vs. Powder Ridge (7) - Third Round


A matchup of David versus Goliath, but size isn't always a good thing in the race to open! Powder Ridge is located a little more North than Granite Peak and much further West. This means Powder Ridge will likely get the first crack at snowmaking, but will it be enough? Last season, Powder Ridge opened on November 21st, while Granite Peak opened on November 25th.


Who We Picked: Granite Peak


Why We Picked Them: The difference here is Granite Peak's off-season snowmaking investment. This offseason Granite Peak invested over $2.5 million in snowmaking. In fact, their parking lot looks like a manufacturing stage for SMI. We think this extra firepower gives them a slight edge this season, but don't sleep on Powder Ridge! This matchup will be a close one.


When to Watch for the Winner: Middle to End of November



Mont Du Lac (9) vs. Lutsen (8) - Third Round


Another David versus Goliath matchup! Lutsen is the biggest ski area in the Midwest and has a snowmaking system to match, but could size be their weakness here? Last season both of these resorts opened on the same day, November 21st. Will history repeat itself?


Who We Picked: Mont Du Lac


Why We Picked Them: Size does Lutsen in for this matchup. Although they have an impressive snowmaking system, the pure amount of snow needed to cover their runs takes just a couple of days longer, and Mont Du Lac squeaks in the victory here!


When to Watch for the Winner: Middle of November



Buck Hill (4) vs. Afton Alps (5) - Fourth Round


The battle for the Twin-Cities Metro! Talk about a close matchup, both of these resorts are located only thirty miles from each other, basically taking weather out of the picture. Last season Buck beat out Afton by six days opening for the season on November 14th. On the other hand, Afton received several Super Polecats from their friends at Keystone this off-season, but does it make the difference?


Who We Picked: Buck Hill


Why We Picked Them: Buck Hill has spent the entire season putting in new pipe, pumphouse, and four new Techno Alpin guns. This extra pumping and firepower will bring them another victory this season.


When to Watch for the Winner: Middle of November




Andes Tower Hills (2) vs. Trollhaugen (3) - Fourth Round


This. Is. Close. Two resorts that had an impressive showing last season. Trollhaugen is notorious for early openings in the Midwest, but many may not be familiar with Andes Tower Hills; well, get familiar! Andes Tower Hills was the second to open last season on November 24th, just one day before Trollhaugen, but can they do it again? Andes Tower Hills is a little further Northwest, meaning they could be seeing colder temps sooner than Troll.


Who We Picked: Trollhaugen


Why We Picked Them: This one was close, like really close. Trollhaugen has spent the offseason installing a new pumphouse and adding some new guns to their fleet. We believe this gives Troll just a slight edge, but it is not much. This matchup will come down to a difference of a couple of days, but Troll squeaks out the victory.


When to Watch for the Winner: Early November



Wild Mountain (2) vs. Trollhaugen (3) - Final Round


The granddaddy of them all, the border battle, the rumble in the jungle... Okay, maybe not that last one. But this matchup is an iconic battle between two Midwestern resorts known to open as early as possible. Last season Wild opened for the season on October 19th, while Trollhaugen opened on October 25th. The ski areas are located just minutes from each other; the weather is almost a non-factor here. So will Trollhaugen's new pumphouse make the difference here? Could they steal a win from Wild Mountain?


Who We Picked: Wild Mountain


Why We Picked Them: This one comes down to opening philosophy. Wild Mountain is notorious for doing everything they can to open as early as possible. They have a perfect area for early opening with their Front Stage rope, they can open with just one or two nights of solid snowmaking. Trollhaugen, on the other hand, prefers to open with at least one chairlift. This philosophy takes a few more days to get the coverage needed, but with their new pumphouse, that gap is starting to close. Wild take the "W" are the bracket champions!


When to Watch for the Winner: Early November



Snowmaking Season is Almost Here

With snowmaking temperatures entering our ten-day forecast across the Midwest, the games should begin in the next few days! Good luck to all ski areas, and cheers to another fantastic season of skiing and riding!