MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Five days into the start of winter and most of Minnesota and western Wisconsin saw the first snow fall of the season.

The timing could not be better for businesses that see a boost when the flakes start falling.

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Fresh snowfall makes the ski hills even more appealing since kids are off from school on winter break.

The hills of Trollhaugen Outdoor Recreation Area have a certain familiarity to Eric Dummer, who spent most of his teens and 20s in the terrain park. Now, this Colorado resident makes a return during the holidays for a day of boarding with friends.

“It’s cool to get everyone back together and out on the hill and kind of just seeing each other again and doing some snowboarding,” Dummer said.

Winter made its return just in time for Dummer’s annual excursion.

“I think in the park it’s definitely more forgiving,” he said. “Fresh snow is going to make it a bit softer.”

December weather has not been kind to businesses that rely on snow.

“The last five seasons, we were open right around Halloween, so this year kind of caught us off guard,” Trollhaugen’s David Sutton said.

Only 70 percent of Trollhaugen’s ski hills were open. The tubing hill was not ready until Christmas Eve.

“We’d flip the snow guns on, but when you have high humidity and you have not-super-low temps, they work together to just stop that flake from being created,” Sutton said.

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Mother Nature came with a Christmas gift of fresh powder and dipping temperatures overnight.

“I haven’t stopped smiling,” Sutton said. “This is fantastic. It’s what we’ve all been waiting for.

Trollhaugen is running all 23 ski hills for the first time this season, marking one of the latest full opens in decades.

“It just spreads the crowds out a little more, gives you a little more variety so I can play on different terrain,” skier Jeff Theissen said.

A slow start to the season turned into a flurry of business within minutes of opening Saturday morning.

“This year is my first time, I haven’t been out yet,” skier Mark Huber said.

Fresh powder will always be a powerful lure for those waiting for winter’s return.

“Just the feeling of riding fresh snow I think is what everybody lives for,” Dummer said.

Even with the winter weather, the snow machines still do most of the work at the ski hills.

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Sutton says the machines make 97 percent of the ski base in a good snow year. In a bad snow year, the machines make 99 percent.