We Have a GORGEOUS Four Day Stretch Ahead! Go SKI or RIDE!

Two ski areas remain open today, Thursday, April 1st (April Fools Day). That will be the case on Friday as well and then you can add Cataloochee Ski Area and Wisp Resort in Maryland to the mix for this weekend with all four ski areas operating through Sunday.

The weather for today through Good Friday (not a "celebration of Spring" as some proposed) and the weekend is for AWESOME blue skies, lots and lots of sun and temperatures that should make the pond skimming and closing activities at Snowshoe and Wisp a lot of fun.

Temperatures are forecasted to soar to around 76° today around Blowing Rock’s Appalachian Ski Mountain but they remain in awesome shape with 100% of their terrain open without a thin area or bare spot to be found. All three terrain parks are in great shape.

Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia is looking at 25 open trails with conditions that were groomed overnight and in fine shape to provide some great fun for their last three days of the season.

Look for highs on Good Friday around 70° at Snowshoe and 78° in Western North Carolina. Saturday should be a bit cooler with highs in the mid-to-upper 60s at all ski area locations. Sunday will be near 60° at Snowshoe’s final day fun and around 69° in Western NC.

OUR READERS ARE SMART PEEPS…

A few of you responded to Wednesday’s story about the new (and still potential) health care bill and how it could affect our ski areas. Most wrote some pretty good stuff that we’ll try to share perhaps on Good Friday. All but two were in agreement that we should be concerned over the possibility of price hikes because anytime it costs more for a business to do business, they’re RIGHTFULLY going to pass those costs on to the consumer.

As I mentioned on Wednesday – other national snow industry reporting services are talking about the potential that the health care bill could "put the final nail in the coffin" for struggling ski areas that were barely making it without the added expense to operate. Despite rumors to the contrary most of the Southeast’s ski areas are all in fine shape financially.

That said, there ARE some concerns about how ski areas might have to alter plans in the future to operate under the 120 days that the health bill dictates.

One reader felt that we posted the story for the purpose of trying to scare readers into supporting the overturning of the bill. Another related my story to conservative talk show hosts who use scare tactics to influence people to vote republican.

I read back over the story and I’m pretty certain that I said that there are idiots on BOTH sides of the aisle so I’m not certain of the political nature of the story. Facts are facts and when it gets more expensive for ski areas (or any business) to operate, they HAVE to pass on those increased costs to the consumer. That’s not scare tactics…it’s fact.

I can’t tell you HOW MANY people emailed us this season saying that they were not able to afford to visit this season. Not even once. Those were sending appreciative emails about being able to view the area and the resort virtually via the www.HighCountryWebCams.com website.

On the other side of that scenario we received thousands of emails this season from many who said that they made MORE single and two-day trips this season than in the past – replacing longer single trip stays. Obviously that played out to the point that all of our ski areas had very successful skier-visit seasons this season.

Frankly I think people will pay nearly any lift ticket price and that SNOW always trumps the economy. However, there are signs even this season that are hinting that this isn’t true. Several resort destinations – particularly out west – saw consecutive skier-visit declines over the last three seasons.

So if ANYTHING comes along that adds increased operating costs to our ski areas…that would push lift prices higher. Of course the same holds true for hotel prices, dining, etc.

Uh, oh – more scare tactics…

About a month ago one of our ski resort managers emailed me asking if we had thought about writing a story about how increased fuel and power costs might adversely affect operating costs and potential lift ticket prices. Numerous national organizations are predicting higher electricity bills in the coming 12-24 months. YOU GUYS HAVE NOT SEEN A POWER BILL until you’ve put your eyes on one that Bill Rock of Snowshoe Mountain or all of our ski area’s owners and operators lay eyes on every month that they operate.

That’s why many ski areas flip the power switch to complete OFF status the moment they close for the season. Right now you could barely get enough "juice" to light up a lightning bug on Beech Mountain. They turned the power off on the mountain to all but essential admin offices the moment they could.

Power companies all across the country have asked for as much as 12.6% price increases in the last year and some experts are claiming rates to increase even higher than that in the coming years. If your power bill is $200,000 a month like our area’s largest resort – then a 12.6% increase could mean another $25,200 a month in operating costs. That’s a lot of lift tickets!

Okay – I’m probably bumming out the ski area ops that are reading this so I’ll stop now. I guess the reason that I posted yesterday’s comments (and today’s) is because most people only look at the crowds in the lift lines and attempt to do some quick math and assume that all ski resorts are raking the money in. While most ARE…bear in mind that a lot of it goes right back OUT…and we NEED ski areas to do very well financially so that they can reinvest in the infrastructure and means to offer the best product possible.

…and it’s kind of hard to do that when the idiots in Washington are making moves that will pile up operating costs.

Scare anyone? Hope not, because we’re just reporting around here.

Enjoy your day…

We’re on day 126 and there are 11 more days of opportunities to enjoy the snow for the 2009-2010 ski and snowboarding season!

Go enjoy the snow! Check out the Snow Report at http://www.skisoutheast.com/skireports.php  and please send us your favorite ski photos, ski videos, trip reports and comments to [email protected]  

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Mike Doble
Mike is the Editor and founder of SkiSoutheast.com, SkiNC.com and ResortCams.com. Since September 1996 he has posted more than 13,000 posts, articles, photos and videos promoting all of the ski areas of North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland.Mike is the father of four daughters, is an avid skier and enjoys golf, tennis, kayaking and hiking in the mountains. Winter snowsports and Summer boating on Watauga Lake are among his favorite pastimes.