The race has been on for a few weeks and many made it to the start line. With snow guns ablazing ski resorts across the country have ben making and grooming snow in an effort to get a few trails open and get people on the slopes.
Many industry experts indicate that skier and ridership was off between five and 40 percent last season. The 2011-2012 season which had trouble getting started and ended early has led to pent up demand to get back on the slopes. However, according to the Ski Industries of America (SIA) people are spending money this fall and retailers are looking up. Retailers report that increased sales on clothing and equipment. This has many on both sides of the spending dollar hopeful.
This has encouraged mountains to make as much snow as they can when the weather is right. A multiday cold snap in the Northeast offered such conditions. Many opened with a trail or two before November 15th with many more racing to get open for the Thanksgiving weekend.
Making snow early in November is a dicey proposition since the weather can turn warm melting away the white investment laid down. This is exactly what happened when temperatures in the Northeast skyrocketed into the 50s and 60s over Veteran’s Day weekend.
Loon Mountain in New Hampshire opted to not to make snow early because of a warm Veteran’s Day weekend weather prediction. They got the word out and began to make snow in earnest once the weather turned cold again. Making up for lost time, or rather less manmade snowpack, Loon opened up on November 16th.
The ski and riding industry relies heavily on manmade snow and it is not in the Northeast and Midwest. Many Western Resorts make snow too. Heavenly and Squaw Valley in the high Sierra’s of California as well as Sun Valley in Idaho make snow to get things going early and augment natural snow.
Early season skiing and riding is not only necessary to placate season pass holders, it serves as a marketing tool to attract daily visitors. If a good experience can be provided in November, it might be a good sign of what can be provided in January, February and March.