Resort Report: Waiting for Easter, radioactive snow & record dumps

In this week's Resort Report, SNEWS takes a look at why Easter is so late, why Colorado is testing for radioactivity in its snowpack and Squaw's new record snowfall. Plus, it keeps snowing at Snowbird, an Ohio ski is poised to re-open and a ski area pioneer passes away.

Resort operators bemoaning late Easter’s (April 24) adverse impact on business can blame it on the moon. Easter is a “Moveable Feast” holiday, coming on the first Sunday after the full moon that follows the spring equinox. The spring equinox is March 20 and the next full moon is Monday, April 18, so Easter falls on the next Sunday. Easter always comes between March 22 and April 25. Here’s what lies ahead for Easter dates: April 8, 2012; March 31, 2013; April 20, 2014.

Colorado snow tested for radiation

While downplaying any need for concern, surveyors with the Natural Resource Conservation Center in Colorado have collected samples of snowpack at 10 locations in the wake of Japan’s nuclear power plant disaster. “If nothing else, this might be a scientific experiment to see how that radiation did spread, if at all,” Mike Gillespie, snow survey supervisor for the Colorado state office, told Denver’s CBS Channel 4. Miniscule levels of radiation were detected in the air in Colorado by EPA monitors at the end of March. Survey offices in all 10 Western states were directed to collect samples, CBS4 reported.

Squaw hits 700 inches for all-time record

Squaw Valley USA has hit the 700-inch mark for cumulative season snowfall for the first time ever on record. In honor of the season’s historic snowfall and incredible spring skiing conditions, Squaw Valley has already extended their ski season to May 30, 2011. With records dating back to 1970, Squaw Valley previously beat their highest recorded season snowfall total of 662 inches during an epic March snowstorm that brought 211 inches (17 feet) of snow to the resort. Now having reached the 700 inch milestone, the resort has greatly exceeded the average annual snowfall total of 450 inches.

Snowbird gets six feet in 10 days

April has picked up where last year left off at Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort thanks to six feet of snow in the first 10 days of this month. With snow banks piled high and a mid-mountain base depth of 180 inches, Snowbird is half way to matching the 144 inches that fell last April, the snowiest month of the 2009/10 season. “This past weekend was unquestionably some of the best skiing of the season,” said Snowbird Vice President Dave Fields. “La Nina storms keep lining up for Little Cottonwood, and at this rate we could be topping our snowiest and longest season on record.”

Idaho closing lifts on great season

Several Idaho ski resorts are closing up shop for the season after a record or near-record season. At Sun Valley, which celebrated its 75th anniversary this year, spokesman Jack Sibbach told the Associated Press that said this was the fifth best on season record for overall snowfall and the resort has the potential to beat last season when more than 400,000 skiers hit the slopes. At Brundage, spokeswoman April Russell said the area will likely surpass its standing record of 131,000 skiers.

Ohio’s Butler ski area to re-open

Four Ohio men have purchase the Clear Fork Ski Area in Butler and plan to re-open the ski area with the intent of turning it into a four-season resort. According to the AP, Rick Weemhoff, Brian Johnson, Ben Flynn and Luke Flynn, partners in Slater Run Land Development LLC, all grew up in the Clear Fork area and worked and skied at the site. The men recently unveiled a $55 million plan for the area, which they expect will lead to the hiring of 210 full and part-time employees. The 40-year-old area last operated in 2006.

In other news…

“Schweitzer Sam” Wormington, a World War II veteran who was instrumental in the building of Canada’s Kimberley Mountain and also Schweitzer Mountain in Idaho died on April 5, 2011 at the age of 90. Wormington personally cut the first run at Kimberley and was the original general manager at Schweitzer..Bob Flynn, Chairman of the Maine Ski Hall of Fame selection committee, has released the names of the Class of 2011 to be inducted at Lost Valley at the annual banquet on that date. The eight skiers to be inducted this year are Werner Rothbacher, David Farrar, Chip Crothers, Carla Marcus, Horace Chapman, John Greene, Edmund MacDonald and Owen Wells…Former U.S. Downhiller Marco Sullivan and Tyler Acklestad won Alaska's Arctic Man title with a time of 4:17.76.

--Andy Bigford & Peter Kray

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