Ludlow, VT, Feb. 20, 2001--(SAM Magazine) The evidence, both scientific and anecdotal, points to an overall strong Presidents' Holiday weekend for ski and snowboard resorts across the country. Though few records were broken, most areas reported increases or on-target numbers in visits despite a few glitches in weather in certain regions. In fact, the only region with picture-perfect clear skies for all three days was New Mexico.
The northeast saw either snow part of the weekend or experienced very cold and windy conditions on Saturday, but numbers were strong regardless. Okemo Mountain, Vt., did better than expected, getting about 2,500 visitors more than projected for Saturday and Sunday. "It was just slightly behind what we got last year," said Pam Cruickshank, Okemo public relations director, "but last year was a record-setting weekend." Cruickshank did say, however, that bookings for the coming week gives the resort the potential for logging its busiest seven-day stretch ever.
Farther north, Jay Peak's numbers are up for the three days. According to resort PR Director Chris Veillon, 14 to 18 inches of snow on Saturday have "made for probably some of the best conditions yet." Bookings for the rest of the week are solid and the resort expects a full month of good numbers because Quebec and then Ontario schools will break for vacations after New England schools complete theirs. New Hampshire and Maine have also had good weekends, as did the rest of New England despite high winds on Saturday.
Western and downstate New York resorts were somewhat hampered by those winds as Hunter Mountain and Greek Peak reported average to slightly better than average numbers for a weekend during a good year. "The season has been so good," said June Bankman, Hunter's sales and marketing director, "that maybe people are getting picky in choosing their ski days for the rest of the season." The story was much the same in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, where warm weather was the biggest impediment to visits, yet Sunday and Monday numbers were still good. Pennsylvania's Snow Time resorts reported good weekend traffic and Snowshoe Mountain, W.V., reported numbers that were "right on target."
Much of the Midwest was gripped by cold temperatures on Saturday, but the sun started helping out Sunday and Monday, bringing people back to the slopes. "It was a good weekend," said Jerry Wahlin, president of Powder Ridge Ski Area, Minn., "but it wasn't great." He pointed out, however, thatthe resort experienced its biggest weekend ever exactly a year ago and said Monday's numbers were about even to last year's for the one day. At Crystal Mountain Resort, Mich., the weekend visits were slightly down from last years'. But at Shanty Creek, Marketing Director Barry Godwin called the weekend "fabulous," indicating improved numbers over last year, when the weekend's visits were strong.
Colorado resorts were reporting increased numbers of visitors for the three-day period, though no resorts were able to provide definitive results. Certain regions experienced clear skies on Saturday and some snow late on Sunday and on Monday. Snow started falling on Utah resorts the previous weekend and it continued for several days, setting up the state's resorts for a busy weekend and holiday week. Deer Valley sold out of tickets both Saturday and Sunday, said Marketing Director Coleen Reardon.
"We were above last year and on pace to set a record this season," she said. In New Mexico, a snowstorm hit the northern part of the state mid week before clear blue skies ruled just about the entire weekend. Angel Fire Resort's Sherrie Bullington said visits for the long weekend were up better than 27 percent over last year and that the overall numbers showed the resort was doing better than it had in the last five years. Bullington said all the state's resorts had good snow and were 100 percent open, speculating the numbers have been better than last year's for all of them.
>The west coast had a strong weekend as well, with southern California resorts experiencing the softest numbers because of weather. "We had a really strong weekend, but the weather could've been better," said John McColly, Mountain High's public relations manager. Though mixed snow, sleet and rain on Sunday and Monday may have hurt business, the resort is still looking at a record season. Farther north, Lake Tahoe resorts fared a bit better on the weekend, reporting up to five feet of new snow during the week prior. "Business couldn't have been better," said Rachael Woods, PR coordinator for Alpine Meadows. She said numbers were strong and all Tahoe resorts would benefit from strong traffic from the Bay Area throughout the week.