Lake Placid, NY – Premature spring warmth has all but wiped out the ski and snowboard season in the eastern U.S. and Canada.
In the eastern U.S., only nine resorts remain in operation today, including four in Vermont, two in New Hampshire and three in Maine after temperatures there spiked into the 70s and even warmer last week. The situation isn’t much different north of the border where only six resorts remain open in Quebec and three in Ontario.
“Let’s give a tip of the cap to the Whiteface snowmaking and grooming crew,” said Jon Lundin, spokesman for the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) that operates Whiteface Mountain and Gore Mountain ski areas in upstate New York. Whiteface managed to operate for only 123 days this season before closing on Sunday. “What Mother Nature didn’t give us they made and they did an outstanding job in making sure that each skier and rider enjoyed the best snow possible.”
“It’s with a heavy heart, and a very thin t-shirt, that Stratton Mountain Resort announces its closing day,” added Nazli Kfoury, spokesperson at Stratton Mountain in Vermont which also closed following Sunday’s session. “Thanks to the Stratton team members who made it possible, regardless of what nature threw at them.”
“When we look back in the record books there will be an asterisk which will say, ‘No help from Mother Nature, the Okemo team did it all on their own,’” said VP and General Manager Bruce Schmidt at nearby Okemo Mountain Resort.
Ski areas typically shutdown their snowmaking systems in mid-February. With the return of colder weather this week, however, a few of the resorts still hanging on plan to resume snowmaking efforts to keep things going a while longer.
“Making snow even this late in the season is all part of our commitment to providing better snow conditions to our skiers and riders,” said Jim Quimby, Operations Manager at Saddleback in Rangeley, Maine, where three lifts are still spinning to access 17 open slopes and trails. Sunday River and Sugarloaf, both also in Maine, as well as Loon Mountain in New Hampshire are also making snow this week.
“We are committed to ensuring our guests are able to ski and snowboard well into late season and we have the infrastructure to handle it,” says John McGregor, Senior Vice-President of Ski Operations at Boyne Resorts, operator of all three ski resorts, which are concentrating snowmaking efforts on easier and intermediate trails to ensure groups scheduled to visit could choose among a large selection of terrain. All three New England Boyne resorts, which are making snow later in the season than ever before in their history, are accepting groups that were originally scheduled to visit other resorts that have now closed earlier than anticipated. “Our crews have proven their ability to work in marginal temperatures and deliver snow all season long. Right now, these three resorts are offering more open terrain than all the other resorts in New England combined.”
In Vermont, too, snowmakers at Jay Peak are returning to work this week.
“We couldn’t throw in the towel just yet,” said Jay Peak’s president Bill Stenger. “Our goal every year is to provide our guests with the longest season possible and when we saw this week’s forecast, we had to take advantage of it.” In addition to cold temperatures, some forecasts have Jay Peak receiving six inches of snow later in the week.
With the resumption of snowmaking, Jay Peak plans to bolster snow pack on some trails and “touch up” others that need it to ensure skiing and riding well into April. Stenger said an early Easter and the arrival of more than 600 students from the United Kingdom will keep the resort busy through mid-April.
“We had four big holiday weeks between February 18th and March 18th with Massachusetts, Vermont, Quebec, and Ontario all having week-long school breaks,” continued Stenger. “During that month skier visits outperformed expectations allowing us to make up the ground we had lost in the early part of the year. Because of that 30-day run, we are now five percent ahead of last year’s skier visits as of the end of March 2012, and that’s despite one of the warmest winters in a generation. And with Easter falling so early in April and having a number of large student groups visit from the United Kingdom, we are in the position of closing out the season on a real high note.”
Resorts in the eastern U.S. and Canada still reporting open lifts and trails as of this morning include:
- Sunday River
- Loon Mountain
- Waterville Valley
- Jay Peak
- Mont Blanc/Faustin
- Mont Saint Sauveur
- Ski Bromont
- Stoneham Mountain
- Horseshoe Resort
- Loch Lomond