RANGELEY — Ski resorts got a needed boost when about an inch of fresh snow fell overnight Thursday — just in time, they hope, to draw more skiers during their vital holiday week coming up.

Saddleback Mountain had a handful of trails open, and nearly 100 skiers eager to start the season turned out Friday morning to hit the slopes in Rangeley, said resort spokeswoman JoAnne Taylor.

“People want to see snow for Christmas, and Rangeley and Saddleback are definitely covered in it,” she said.

The resort had been awaiting more snow anxiously, especially after unseasonably warm weather so far this season had slowed snow-making operations and condominium reservations, she said. The resort opened Dec. 17.

Even getting the light dusting just before the weekend seemed to send a much needed message that ski season had finally arrived.

“When it’s sunny and 40 degrees in Augusta, it’s hard for people to realize that there is still snow in the mountains,” Taylor said.

Low temperatures forecast for the coming week also bode well for the resort, which plans to ramp up its snow-making operation tonight. They expect to have three lifts running this weekend, servicing seven trails, and to keep adding terrain during the week.

Christopher Farmer, the resort’s general manager, would not discuss how much holiday reservations have dropped because of the warm weather, saying he hoped they would pick up after the snowfall.

He doesn’t expect a slow start to have much of an effect on revenue this year, calling Christmas week the kickoff to a long season that is sure to draw plenty of skiers to the resort.

At Sugarloaf Mountain, a steady flow of skiers showed up at the Carrabassett Valley resort, where six lifts serviced 18 trails on Friday, said resort spokesman Ethan Austin.

The big push for Christmas week really begins Monday, when the resort plans to capitalize on optimal snow-making temperatures in the single digits and get more chairlifts and terrain open, he said.

Last weekend, the resort opened its new $3 million Skyline chairlift and about 300 people lined up to be among the first to ride the fixed-grip quad, which replaced the Spillway East lift that derailed last year.

The Skyline lift has been running everyday since and is expected to be open for the coming week, Austin said.

Holiday reservations and sales have been keeping pace with last year so far, after a strong turnout during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, he said.

“I think people did have some pre-vacation jitters just based on the warm weather, but a little bit of natural snow like this can make a big difference,” Austin said.

“They sort of get into the winter mind-set when they see snow in their own backyards,” he said.

David Robinson — 861-9287

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