Hello Everyone –
Between the primary election season and the nation’s economic situation, the following may have fallen under a lot of people’s radar; winter is with us for at least another six weeks, thanks to that groundhog in Pennsylvania. You see Punxsutawney Phil popped out of that make-believe burrow of his this past Saturday and saw his shadow, which lore says means winter is with us for another six weeks. Since winter has come and gone and come back this year a couple of times already, any thing that resembles straight intel I will accept. Hey, just to keep the slopes open in the region through March I will take news from any four-legged source.
The owners and managers of the hundreds of ski and snowboard shops in the southeast region now remind us that the season is really kicking into high gear. I say this because I heard my first “End of the Season” commercial the other day traveling on Interstate 81. Ouch! Besides weatherman saying on the air “stay home it’s snowing” I don’t know of anything that hurts the ski industry more than a ski shop announcing “the end of the season.” As someone once said “it’s not over until I say it’s over.” I have always wondered, and even mentioned to some shop operators, why can’t a “mid-season sale” be conducted. Discount all you want, just leave out the word “end” because people in the flatlands don’t understand that the most snow of the season is on the slopes right now. But after hearing the commercial last week, I now realize the shop owners are more worried about reducing their inventory tax instead of promoting the best skiing, riding and tubing of the season.
While we are on the subject of the weather, don’t look now but that roller coaster is taking another downward swing the next ten days. Nothing drastic, but the temperatures are going to be milder than recently but nothing to really worry about due to all of the snowmaking that took place during the latest cold snap. Go back and look at the number of trails open before the cold snap began and the number of trails open right now. One reason, the ability of the region’s snowmakers to cover the slopes faster and deeper than anywhere else in the country. Now with that said, we saw base numbers at some resorts jump dramatically right before the MLK holiday weekend. Will we see the base depth numbers drop due to the mild temperatures? Don’t hold your breath with the President’s holiday weekend looming.
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!
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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.