With rising COVID-19 cases and winter weather buffeting the west coast of Lake Michigan, Michiganders are hitting the slopes. Crystal Mountain in Northern Michigan is a popular spot every winter for locals and tourists alike. This year, it is no different. \u201cWe\u2019ve been busy every day,\u201d Manager of Public Relations at the winter destination, Brittney Buti said. \u201cWe\u2019ve seen a couple record days even.\u201d Despite heavy snow not reaching Michigan until around January, their season started a week earlier than last year and 100% of their slopes opened 3 weeks earlier than the previous year. Through the use of manmade snow, which melts slower than natural snow, winter athletes were provided with a base before the winter weather really began. Like many others, Crystal Mountain has seen the pandemic impact numbers of visitors to the resort. \u201cI think if anything, the pandemic has increased the interest in outdoor sports,\u201d Buti said. Buti went on to describe how ski and snowboard lessons have been increasingly popular over the past two winters, signifying a potential increase in new winter sports participants. This sentiment is shared around the country, especially in the Midwest where ski areas saw the best season in the 2020-21 region in five years with over seven million visitors during the season, according to the National Ski Areas Association\u2019s industry statistics. In a regional context, Crystal Mountain has seen and expects more visits from both tourists and locals. \u201cPeople are interested in exploring snow sports, which is great because it\u2019s northern Michigan, and you have to find that silver lining during the winter,\u201d Buti said. Crystal Mountain is offering season passes and Buti recommends that they be bought online so as to beat the lines when visiting the ski resort. The resort is looking forward to a full and busy year of events and specials. Over the next month, the resort will see an airsoft biathlon on February 13 and a Valentine\u2019s Day special the following day. As of right now, all indoor staff are wearing masks with the ongoing pandemic, but it is not required for visitors.