Hello Everyone –
Looking back at my first week of March column the last eight years, there was a common theme, “Welcome To Spring Skiing.” Traditionally the first week of March begins the final month of the winter season, classified by most in the industry as Spring Skiing. It is usually when temperatures become milder, the days are longer and the bases start to drop. Unless you have been under a rock lately, everyone knows that is not the case again this season.
Rewind to February 2, Ground Hog Day, when Phil didn’t see his shadow and proclaimed another six weeks of winter. Maybe Phil should be the one who stands in front of the green screen at The Weather Channel and gives everyone the weather forecast. It looks like the rodent was on target this year as March is coming in like a lion across the southeast region. As I write this week’s column on Saturday, the snow gooses are saying the mountains could see over a foot of snow before the upcoming storm goes out to sea.
For the resorts from Tennessee to Maryland this season has been a snowy one and most importantly up until recently a very chilly one. But if you look real close to the snow totals some resorts are actually behind in natural snowfall and some are ahead of their yearly averages. Either way, the conditions are perfect from top to bottom as those cold conditions that everyone has been experiencing this winter has meant excellent snowmaking conditions early on and all through January and February. On top of that there haven’t been any of those January or February base killing thaws. What that means is that there is one heck of a base in those mountains. Conditions at all resorts don’t usually continue to improve this time of year but it would take a hurricane to make them worse. Shame on any skier, snowboarder or snowtuber who hasn’t made it to their favorite resort yet this season. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize just how good the conditions have been from north to south.
Another thing that has helped all of the resorts this winter is the fact that there has been plenty of snow and cold temperatures in the major market areas for the ski properties. You see there have been times in the past that in some of the parts that serve as feeder cities for the resorts, folks have had to start thinking about cutting the grass for the first time. Not this year, in most cases that grass is still brown and in some cases there is still snow on that grass. You don’t have to be a marketing genius to understand if there is snow out someone’s window in Raleigh, Richmond, Washington, DC, Roanoke, Columbus, etc., you know there is snow on the slopes at the your favorite resorts.
Also this time of year you start to hear rumblings about resorts getting ready for their final weeks of skiing and snowboarding. So far those rumblings have been kept quiet and a couple of resorts have already announced they are extending their season past their original closing dates that includes Canaan Valley and Snowshoe Mountain, both in West Virginia. I believe you will be seeing more resorts following in their tracks.
Just like last year, if your memory serves you, there is a lot snow on the slopes for this time of the season. It’s traditionally a time when yours truly and Mike Doble, the site’s Managing Editor (Grand Pooh-Ba) are on the phone early in the morning talking about the slope bases and why the totals weren’t dropping. I really don’t see that happening that much this season. If anything the bases are going to grow after this next storm comes through. Again if you haven’t noticed the temperatures for the most part through at least the middle of last week have been below freezing, keeping the snow from going anywhere. With that thought in mind, when things start going south, can you imagine how good the spring whitewater rafting conditions are going to be on the rivers in West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and Tennessee. Whitewater rafting company owners need to make sure ski resort managers are on their Christmas card list again this year.
Finally this week, I have busted on ski shops in years past for doing those so-called “End of the Season” sales in January, making everyone think the snow is gone just a few hours away for the shop. I haven’t heard of one clearance sale up to this point. Maybe this year the shops will call it a Spring Skiing Season sale. Now isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?
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.