Christmas Has Its Ups and Down

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Publish Date

01/25/2005

The East decidedly had it the hardest during Christmas week, but the news gets better out West.

Rain on Christmas Eve for southern New England, then temperatures that soared into the 50s and 60s over Christmas and the following weekend, made for a less-than-stellar holiday week for many ski areas in the Northeast. At Ski Bradford, just north of Boston, numbers were down for Christmas week because of the warm weather, and Nashoba Valley, N.H., had only nine out of 17 trails open. Nonetheless, sliders did show up for some spring skiing conditions and areas that were able to stockpile the snow, still posted average numbers. At Mohawk in Connecticut, the area went into full operation during Christmas week and while skiers were pulling up with skis and snowboards sticking out of their convertibles, they were still coming thanks to good early season snow and snowmaking.

At Okemo, Vt., the numbers were strong, but slightly off of projections. Management was hoping for a strong New Year's Eve week and weekend with temperatures falling enough for snowmaking to begin again. Of its 113 trails, 85 were open as of today, along with its new Jackson Gore expansion.

Moving south, Bristol in New York had 75 percent of the mountain open and reported average numbers, despite the spring conditions.

At Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia, thanks to lots of natural snow, one hundred percent of the terrain was open and conditions were reportedly good.

Jumping west, Utah has had big snowfall--"more than I've seen in several years," said Ski Utah's Kip Pitou. Snowbird received 63 inches of light holiday powder during one 60-hour period. Utah is booked to capacity. Only downside: all the snow has kept local visits down somewhat.

Airline and lodging reservations were up from last year throughout Colorado. Snow cover and visits were up especially in the southwestern corner of the state, including Telluride, Durango and Wolf Creek. Though Colorado has received less snow that some other Western states, fresh snow every few days has kept surfaces powdery.

The Pacific Northwest has enjoyed a much better season than last year. The Summit at Snoqualmie areas are "knocking them dead," said Booth Creek's Julie Maurer. At Bridger Bowl, crowds have been at or above capacity. Same is true for the trio of resorts outside Vancouver, B.C., Cypress, Mount Seymour and Grouse, which all reported gangbuster numbers, including Seymour who had to turn visitors away.

California has had a strong season, though not a record-breaker--recent storms have reduced visits on weather days. In the Sierra, holiday storms added five feet of snow that helped fuel steady crowds. SoCal areas received a big dump that has also brought out the locals.

All across the northern Midwest tier, from Minnesota through northern Michigan, areas have been off to an early and strong start. Some areas, such as the U.P.'s Blackjack, are even up over last year's best-in-a-generation start--though overall business is slightly off last year's pace. Still, few are complaining. "Business has been quite good here," said a Midwest spokesman. The exception: Hidden Valley outside St. Louis, which has not been able to open due to weather.

Stay tuned for another update after the final holiday weekend... \

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