Hello Everyone –
To say that the start of this season has been challenging for regional ski resort operators is like saying everyone knew that West Virginia University was going to drop 70 points on Clemson in the Orange Bowl before the coin toss, not likely. Anytime you receive more natural snow in October than November and December combined, well you know you’ve got problems.
But a strange thing has happened on the way to the resorts this year; it seems that just about everyone understands the challenge that each and every resort has been under this season. I have spent a little time the last two weeks at a couple of resorts in the area and the word from both mountain operations and marketing is that skiers and snowboarders have basically been happy with what has been put on the ground so far. The comments received include, “you are doing the best you can with what Mother Nature is giving you,” “we are having fun and being from Florida, this is the first time we have ever seen snow.” I know not every skier and snowboarder has been happy but this might be the first time the praises have outnumbered complaints.
I am also hearing there have been cancellations because of the conditions but the majority, as much as 80 percent, are rebooking for later in the season. Now those folks understand if given the constant cold temperatures the slopes will be covered. One piece of good news I heard over the weekend is that one of the region’s signature trails, Cupp Run at Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia was opened. I know the rest of the Mountain Managers across the south are working whenever possible to get the big stuff open.
On my way back from one of my resort visits, I tried to figure out why the complaints were down this year, despite less terrain open for this time of the season. After much thought, I came to the conclusion that technology has finally caught up with the industry. There was a day when skiers and snowboarders had to call the local ski shop near the resort for a reliable conditions report. Now everyone just clicks onto this website and finds the webcam at the resort they want to visit and presto, there are the conditions in real-time color. If anyone now says they didn’t know what the conditions were before they get to the slopes, may I say it’s their own fault.
Back to the main point of this week’s column, patience has paid off for everyone because don’t look now but one of the biggest weekends of the year is fast approaching, the three-day Martin Luther King holiday break and what I am being told by my weather peeps that winter approacheth. Stay tuned.
Just a reminder about the fact that this month is National Learn to Ski and Snowboard month. To learn more go to www.learntoskiandsnowboard.org and pick a place to have fun.
That’s it for this week, just remember whether it be cold or whether it be hot, we’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather will be. Think about it! See you on the slopes.
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Joe Stevens, a member of the southeast ski industry since 1990 is a regular columnist for skisoutheast.com and serves as the Communications Director for the West Virginia Ski Areas Association.