WinterSports Highlight Reel: Sales jump forecast, hot hires & snow, snow, snow

The snow is falling fast and furious across the Rockies, and ski areas from California to Colorado are opening more terrain early. That -- and an upturn in the economy -- are why economic forecasts are calling for an increase in retail sales this year.
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The 2010 holiday shopping season is about to hit top speed and consumers are ready to spend on more than the fundamentals despite lingering worries about the economy. That’s the Nov. 18 report from SnowSports Industries America, which says that snowsports consumers will buy a third of all products sold for the season between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Last season, snowsports retailers brought in more than $865 million in sales during the holiday shopping season out of a total of $2.94 billion for the entire season. In fact, during the "last minute" shopping frenzy that generally takes place the week of Dec. 21, sales for the week represented 9 percent of the season’s total sales in the snowsports market.

“Consumers will still shop with the economy in the back of their minds, but we’re starting to see shoppers take baby steps toward a new normal,” said National Retail Foundation President and CEO Matthew Shay in a statement. “As Americans open up their wallets for more discretionary gifts like jewelry or take advantage of sales to buy for themselves, retailers will begin to truly believe that the worst may be behind them.”

Hot Hires: Bill Rock to Northstar, Ted Ligety new ambassador for Powdr Corp.

Vail Resorts Inc. announced the appointment of Bill Rock as the new chief operating officer of Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort. Rock will assume responsibility for all mountain and village operations associated with Northstar-at-Tahoe and will report directly to Blaise Carrig, co-president of Vail Resorts' mountain division.

“Bill brings 14 years of experience in the mountain resort industry, including mountain operations, lodging, real estate development, association management, municipal services and commercial real estate. Bill has a deep understanding of how to drive both guest service and profitability in the mountain resort business, as well as how to develop strong community partnerships,” said Carrig.

Rock joins Vail Resorts from Intrawest’s Snowshoe Mountain Resort in West Virginia, where he was president and chief operating officer since 2005.

In other hires, Olympic Gold Medalist Ted Ligety has signed a multi-year agreement with Powdr Corp. to become an ambassador of all the ski resorts, representing each of the mountain resorts individually. New this year is a Powdr Corp. focus across its resorts in support of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Teams (USSA) who performed so successfully at the 2010 Olympics.

“I am very pleased to be working with Ted as an ambassador of all the Powdr Corp. family of resorts,” said John Cumming, CEO of Powdr Corp. “Ted is such a remarkable individual, and an overall amazing person to be around, that I feel he will be a great ambassador for all our resorts.”

The resorts that Ligety will be working with include Copper Mountain Resort, Park City Mountain Resort, Killington Resort and Mount Bachelor, among others.

Snow rocks California, Utah, Colorado as more resorts open for season

The ski season in Colorado Rockies is off to a record-setting start for resort terrain openings and epic early season skiing and riding conditions at Breckenridge and Keystone Resorts. Twenty inches fell the night of Nov. 17 at Breckenridge Resort and Keystone Resort received eight inches.

Keystone Resort will also open The Outback terrain on Nov. 19 -- the earliest opening in the resort’s history. Breckenridge Resort also opened the T-Bar lift on Peak 8 on Nov. 18, which goes down in the record books as the earliest opening of the T-Bar in Breckenridge Resort history. Vail Mountain opens Nov. 19 with more than 1,150 acres and nine lifts on the front side of the mountain.

At Lake Tahoe resorts, the forecast calls for several feet of new snow from a potentially historic storm system on the horizon. The majority of Ski Lake Tahoe resorts plan to open for skiing and snowboarding this weekend thanks to last week's storms that dropped nearly two feet of snow.

For the opening weekend, Heavenly Mountain Resort plans to operate its Gondola and Tamarack Express lifts Nov. 19, as is Northstar-at-Tahoe and Mt. Rose-at-Tahoe. Squaw Valley plans to get in on the action beginning Nov 20 with the Exhibition Lift open for skiing and riding (conditions permitting) along with the Cable Car for sightseeing.

--Peter Kray

On Oct. 6, 2010, veteran journalist Peter Kray joined the SNEWS team and is now editor of the new SNEWS WinterSports channel. We trust you are enjoying the full offering of WinterSports news. Be sure to email your friends and let them know the best WinterSports news has arrived -- just in time for the start of the winter season. Got WinterSports news? Send your WinterSports news to Kray at Subscribers can also post WinterSports news releases directly to the SNEWS website. Email us at to learn about posting your own news releases, or for any other questions or comments. We love to hear from our readers!