WINTER IS HERE – FINALLY!

WINTER IS HERE – FINALLY!

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Hello Everyone –

Okay, I kept hearing from all of my weather peeps late in December and in early January that there was a bunch of cold air blocked up at the North Pole and there wasn’t anything up there to push it south. So I got to thinking, it seems that my boy’s letter to Santa Claus works every year – so why not try the same thing?

So I dropped the jolly guy a quick line about releasing us some of that cold air and it looks like I wasn’t the only one writing letters as the situation has flipped.

Spent some time at a regional resort this weekend and smiles could be seen on everyone’s face, from snowmakers to lift ticket checkers to people waiting in line for their lift ticket. Those smiles were occurring with the temperatures at the time around 11 degrees, with snowguns roaring and with snow falling. Gosh, life can really be good sometimes, can’t it?

So what a difference a week makes to the southeast ski industry. Just seven days ago temperatures in the 60’s could be found in just about every metro area in the region. Talk about making it tough to convince folks that there is still plenty of snow on the slopes, when the sun is shining and temperatures are warm. Now seven days later there snow is on ground in those same metro areas and according to resort officials the phones are ringing. That, may I say, is music to every resort marketing director out there.

It is going to be tough for resorts to make up for the days lost due to the early season’s mild temperatures, but that situation has also turned around a bit. Attendance numbers for the Martin Luther King Holiday weekend are being reported to be strong as all of the days were winter-like. Many times in years past at least one of days during the holiday featured underdeveloped snow reducing the lift ticket count but not this year; the resorts can use every lift ticket sold at this point.

In last week’s column we did tell you that winter was approaching and if you have been under a rock this week and not on the slopes, shame on you. Now let’s watch those base depths start to climb and you know that I always say those are just ego numbers. The numbers I want to see increase are slope openings. When will some mountain operation folks in this region realize that skiers and snowboarders these days could care less about a 60 inch plus announced base depth but rather if there is tree-line to tree-line slope coverage, which allows for better carving possibilities. Plus all you have to do is check out the real-time cams on this site of every resort in the region and you can see for yourself just how much snow is on the slopes at your favorite resort.

Don’t forget 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.

Send your comments to: jstevens@themediacenter222.com  

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.

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