Fresh snow propels sold-out weekend at Western ski resorts

It was a banner weekend at ski areas across the West and Pacific Northwest. Plenty of fresh snow resulted in sell outs from Utah to Washington state. SNEWS has the full report.
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Plenty of fresh snow -- including nearly 9 feet of new powder in Tahoe -- led to a banner President’s Day weekend at many ski resorts across the West and Pacific Northwest.

Squaw Valley was reporting more than 7 feet of new snow heading into the weekend, while Alpine Meadows received more than 8 feet. With the storm clearing out just as the weekend started, there was plenty of time to get the roads cleared for the holiday guests.

“North Lake Tahoe is a snow-driven economy,” said Andy Chapman, director of tourism with the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association. “Snow is what we do so we are able to handle such large amounts in a short period of time.”

The same storm system continues to push across the country, while more new snow is also expected to hit the Pacific Northwest this week. According to the Seattle Times, Crystal Mountain ski resort in Washington recorded a single-day season attendance high of 7,200 skiers on Saturday. The area will stay staffed for weekend levels throughout the week, with plans to run all 10 chairlifts instead of just 8.

The paper also reports that the staff at Alpental expects that the new snowfall will result in traffic tripling this week.

All of Colorado’s ski resorts received new snow over President’s Day weekend. Resorts in southwest Colorado received generous amounts of precipitation from the storm with Wolf Creek and Silverton both reporting 18 inches. Nearby Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort added 13 inches of fresh snow to their season total and Telluride stacked an additional 10 inches on their terrain.

Ski areas in the Central Rockies added new snow with Snowmass reporting 16 inches. Monarch saw 13 inches, and Crested Butte totaled a foot of fresh.

In Wyoming, Jackson Hole reported two feet of fresh snow. And Grand Targhee Resort received 32 inches of powder in just 24 hours. The storm arrived Sunday, February 20, bringing the two-day storm total to 41 inches. Shannon Brooks Hamby, communications director at Grand Targhee, said, “With more snow in the forecast this week, this could be one of the best President's holiday weeks in recent memory at Grand Targhee Resort.”

“Lodging was sold out,” Hamby told SNEWS. “We don't release skier visit numbers but we exceeded budgeted skier days for the weekend.”

Crowds in Utah forced the closure of Big and Little Cottonwood canyons because of safety concerns according to Salt Lake news station KSL. Late Monday morning, law enforcement officials shut down access at the mouths of each canyon after sending out alerts saying, “All ski resorts are at or near capacity. Uphill traffic will be limited to buses or shuttles.”

KSL also reports that at Deer Valley, “where they limit the number of skiers to 7,500 a day, they sold out for the third day in a row, and have a lot of reservations through the week.”

Park City Mountain Resort spokesperson Krista Parry told KSL that skier days for her resort are “right on par” with last year. “We are definitely looking at this being a strong week, which hopefully means a strong season,” Parry said.

And the surge in skier days isn’t just confined to the West. Vermont and New Hampshire are also seeing a significant increase in visitors. According to the New York Times, Jay Peak Resort had a 70 percent increase in visitors compared with the same weekend the previous year. Jay Peak spokesperson J. J. Toland, told the paper that January lodging revenue was up 18 percent over 2010, and resort properties are sold out until Feb. 27.

Toland told the New York Times that “Business has been robust, to say the least, and there’s been plenty of tired cheeks in ski country from grinning.”

New York state ski areas also welcomed a bumper crop of skiers and snowboarders throughout the holiday weekend according to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise. Whiteface had 5,000 skiers on the mountain Saturday, while the nearby Big Tupper Ski Area reported a 20 percent increase in visitors over the same period last year.

And Charlie Martin, manager of Mount Pisgah Ski Center in Saranac Lake, told the paper, “I would say if it's not our first, it's our second best weekend of the year.”

--Peter Kray

Send your WinterSports news to Peter Kray at pkray@snewsnet.com. Subscribers can also post WinterSports news releases directly to the SNEWS website. Email us at snewsbox@snewsnet.com to learn about posting your own news releases, getting your WinterSports headlines, or with any other questions or comments.

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