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Snow lovers flock to slopes

Khuslen Dashzeveg is right at home at Afton Alps. (Bulletin photo by Louise Ernewein)

It's not often that you hear the sentiment that Minnesota winters are "nice and mild."

But that's just what one woman had to say as the slopes opened on the first day of the season at Afton Alps Wednesday, Nov. 12.

In the case of Erdenetsetseg Dashzeveg, it's all a matter of relativity.

"We are originally from Mongolia," said Dashzeveg, whose family now lives in Cottage Grove.

"Mongolia is similar to Minnesota in terms of the snowfall in winter, but we have a Siberian winter in Mongolia, where it can reach almost negative 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

"Here, this is so mild and nice. All my kids enjoy being out in the winter," she said.

Dashzeveg, her husband and their youngest son, Khuslen, who is just 4, were watching as the two eldest children in the family-of-five, aged 18 and 16, got in the first rides of the season on their snowboards.

This year, the family invested in season passes to Afton Alps so there would have to be no rationing of the number of ski and snowboard days over the winter.

"We were waiting for this day, today," added Dashzeveg, who said Khuslen would be taking skiing lessons so he could join his two older siblings on the slopes.

"My husband got out of his work, and said, 'Go, go, go to Afton!'

"Usually we'll spend the whole day here at Afton over the winter. It's like my second home."

With an official opening time of 3 p.m., there were already dozens of snowboarders making the most of every minute on the Afton Alps slopes just a half-hour after opening. And they kept on coming.

In preparation for the opening day, the venue's 63 snow machines had been busy making the cold, white stuff to keep visitors happy.

Friends Kayla Goetsch and Kayla Tuckner, juniors from Lake Elmo, said they had planned to come on opening day since they found out about it a week before.

"We have been waiting," said Tuckner. "It's always nice when it cools down.

"Most people don't like it, but we do.

"I've been telling people all day we were coming out here, and they say, 'You're crazy -- you're going out in the snow?'"

They were joined by students from across Woodbury and south Washington County, who waited patiently in the line to use the one operational chair lift.

For more information on Afton Alps, visit

Louise Ernewein can be reached at