MANDAN, N.D. (KXNET) — While you won’t be seeing any snow on the slopes just yet, the Huff Hills Ski Area just received an award that’s making it feel like Christmas morning.

The group was selected as one of the 14 recipients of the North Dakota Destination Development Grant and was awarded $650,000. With the price-matched grant, the ski area will be able to make much-needed improvements to the ski area.

“Most of what we’re doing is super inter-related,” said Operations Manager Andrew Beck. “Without that extra funding, it would’ve been really difficult to even think about doing part of this.”

One of the areas that Huff Hills is putting the money towards is the development of devices to help with night skiing, which means that starting this winter, you’ll be able to ride the lift after dark.

There will also be some big construction projects, both above and below ground — including some that are over 30 years in the works.

“For us being able to replace 30-year-old snowmaking infrastructure is going to be awesome,” said Beck. “And we’ll also be able to add some snowmaking capacity. People will also be able to see that we’ll be reconfiguring some buildings. We’ll be putting up a new rental shop building, and we’re going to refer to it as a welcome center. It’ll be a one-stop shop for ski lessons, lift tickets, and rentals, and that’ll allow us to increase the number of people that we can introduce to this sport.”

The grant will also allow Huff Hills to move the stock pond for the snow machine from the bottom of the hill all the way up to the top, so they can have more room for construction.

Overall, employees say that night skiing will be the best opportunity that the grant provides.
They say it will not only benefit the public but also aid the area’s competitive youth ski team, which is projected to have more than 100 members this year.

“The ability to be able to extend practice times possibly into the evenings or early morning hours is really going to help not only make practice times safer for the skiers in our program,” Huff Hill Sports Foundation’s President Amanda Ihmels stated, “but also free up that really nice hill that’s over there for the general public to ski on over the weekends, too.”

These improvements are all with the hopes of making it an even better year on the slopes — and also to improve the many more skiing seasons that are yet to come.

There’s no sign of snow just yet, so manager Andy Beck isn’t sure when the season will start — but when it does, you can check visit Huff Hills’ Facebook page to see whether or not they’re opened.