Boulder, CO, Dec. 1, 2000--Regardless of what aprés-only skiers might say, the ski industry depends on snow, not furry boots, poodles in sweater-vests, or hot toddies. Snow brings people to the mountains and entices skiers to spend money within the ski-marketplace. Pre-Christmas snow conditions often indicate how the rest of the season will shape up as good snow encourages people to make reservations for later in the season.
After back-to-back snow-droughts in the West and even more fruitless seasons in the East and Midwest, white is finally becoming the dominant color on ski trails, while cash registers gobble up green.
Park City Mountain Resort, UT reported a 200 percent increase in skier visits compared to last year's Thanksgiving holiday. "Last year we had one lift and two runs open with a base depth of fourteen inches, manmade snow. This year we had open nine lifts, sixty-one runs, seven bowls, our PayDay halfpipe" and a 32-inch natural snow base, elated Melissa O'Brien, Park City's Communications Manager.
At Copper Mountain Resort, CO, reservations over the Thanksgiving weekend were up 50 percent from last year and bookings for the entire holiday season are already up 70 percent. As far as snowfall goes, two years ago Copper received a mere three-inch dusting during the month of November. Last year thirteen inches dropped over the same period. Fifty-five inches of November powder cover Copper's terrain this year.
Even Pennsylvania is riding the early season wave. "I've been here for eighteen years, and I don't recall Jack Frost Mountain ever being open for Thanksgiving before," said Jack Frost President and GM, Melanie Murphy. Jack Frost and other Pocano resorts, usually doesn't open slopes until the second or third week of December.
Before Christmas last season, the scant terrain at Sugarloaf USA, ME was a base-wrecking combination of loose rocks, dirt patches, and yellow ice. This year, Sugarloaf boasted sixteen fresh inches during opening week. "The enthusiasm and snow satisfaction levels of our customers is an encouraging indicator for a strong season," said Managing Director John Diller, as Sugarloaf celebrated one of its best Thanksgivings ever in terms of skier visits and terrain open.
Pacific resorts are receiving their fair share of prosperity as well. Kirkwood Resort, CA received ten inches on Nov. 29 to bring their total base to 12-40 inches, nearly double last year's. Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend brought out 4,000 skiers, more than triple the number of visitors who ventured out last year. The combination of good natural snow and great snowmaking has allowed Kirkwood to open seven of their twelve lifts. Only three chairs serviced terrain last year at the beginning of December.
The mountains and skiers watch as fresh snow reinvigorates already established bases that appear to be drawing in normal amounts of early-season skiers. While many of the skiers that have already been laying clean tracks on corduroy or seeking out secret powder stashes have satisfaction spread across their faces many are still blowing the dust off your skis. Get out and enjoy the sun and snow, winter is back!