Hello Everyone –
Whoever woke up Mother Nature and reminded her that the month of January should have winter conditions in the southeast, and until recently I was beginning to think she had forgotten her responsibilities to the ski resorts in the region, thank you. For most of the resorts, the conditions that have been out there up until the latest snowfall have been a credit to the excellent snowmaking capabilities throughout the region. There have been a couple of instances where I couldn’t believe a resort or two were still open with the conditions they had, but that is in the rear view mirror. Unfortunately, skiers and snowboarders don’t forget as quickly.
I’ve questioned this week what drives resort operators to stay open just for the sake of staying open. You know web cams just don’t lie and taking a tour around the region by webcams before the recent return to winter showed me that the suspension of on-slope operations may have been justified. That is where my curiosity begins on why a resort remains open with such marginal conditions. I realize that after opening for the season, having to shut down the slopes for a day or two may cause some loss of momentum, but having fun in mud isn’t my idea of fun in the winter. Be upfront with skiers and snowboarders and in the long run they will appreciate the honesty.
Now let’s turn our attention to what really is happening on the slopes. First off, every single snowmaker has been working overtime with the temperatures being perfect for them right now to cover the slopes and to open additional terrain. Secondly, for the most part, resorts have been dead on with the reporting of base depths, but I am here to say it is impossible to have an overnight increase of 30 inches across one resort. Even if there was 30 inches of natural snow overnight you just can’t get that much of an increase that fast. A foot of Mother Nature’s velvet only means about two-inches to a base on any snow reporting form. But then there are some that just don’t let facts get in the way of a positive snow report.
But I digressed a bit from this week’s thoughts of winter finally being here. The natural snow and timely cold temperatures are going to mean additional terrain opening up throughout the southeast region just about everyday. The perfect winter conditions couldn’t have come at a better time as resorts were preparing for the season’s busiest weekend of the season, as the nation celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. If you didn’t make it out this past weekend, it’s time to let gravity be your friend and head down one of your favorite slopes because the time is right.
That’s it for this week; more to come as the season moves on. Just be patient as whether it be cold or whether it be hot, we’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather will be. Think about it!
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.