LIGONIER (KDKA) — It’s been more than a decade since skiers hit the slopes at Laurel Mountain Ski Resort in Ligonier, but today it opened once more to improved facilities and near perfect conditions.

Laurel Mountain, the name stokes nostalgic memories for long-time skiers in Western Pennsylvania.

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“I learned how to ski here,” said Ligonier Borough Mayor Butch Bellas. “I taught my whole family how to ski here back in the ‘70s.”

“Last time I was here, I was 12. It was terrifying when I was 12,” said skier Caroline Arnone.

Starting Wednesday afternoon, new lifts were moving skiers up slope as the resort reopened under Seven Springs management. More than $7 million in improvements were made before the grand reopening.

“It’s a small hometown mountain that skis big. It’s truly a skier’s mountain,” said Mayor Bellas.

What makes the mountain what it is – a well-known and formidable slope, the Lower Wildcat.

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“Wildcat’s crazy,” said Arnone.

“Well, it’s one of the steepest around,” skier Eric Larson added. “It’s why people come here.”

KDKA’s Ross Guidotti: “Keep you on your toes?”

Larson: “Oh yeah, the whole way down.”

But for Mayor Bellas, who’s a long-standing member of the region’s ski patrol, Wildcat is just a part of this place that’s deep in his heart.

“I’m probably one of the more happier people in the Ligonier Valley today,” he said. “I might start crying. It is great.”

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