After a somewhat disappointing ski season last winter, resorts are firing up their snowmaking equipment to anticipate a possible lack of snowfall they may face again this winter.
The 2002-2003 Farmers Almanac has predicted that this winter will be milder than normal, with midwinter temperatures averaging five degrees above normal. Although precipitation will be above normal, most of the region will have below normal snowfall.
Despite the warmer temperatures, Loveland Ski Area opened on schedule Thursday and was the first resort in the United States to open this season.
“Business has been excellent since opening day,” said Ken Kelley, an events and promotions coordinator for Loveland Ski Area. “After the bad ski season at the end of last year and the long, hot summer, there is a huge demand to get back on the mountain.”
According to Kelley, there was an increase in the number of people from last year’s opening day.
“There has also been a surge in the sale of the midweek season passes since we opened,” Kelley said. “It seems that more and more people want to avoid the weekend crowds.”
Other resorts have noticed a decrease in their season pass sales this year but are still expecting a good season.
D.B. Daugherty, the communications correspondent for Winter Park, said their season pass sales are lagging a little behind.
“However,” Daughtery said, “We have noticed that people get excited about the first snowfall and tend to purchase their passes then.”
“Others wait until our last minute deadline, in order to get the best deals,” she said. “Our deadline is Nov. 3, then the prices will go up.”
Winter Park is prepared for a mild winter, Daughtery said.
“We fired up our snowmaking equipment on Oct. 13, exactly one month from our expected opening date,” she said. “We have 50 new snowmaking towers that require less water, making them much more efficient.”
Copper Mountain is trying to instill confidence in their snowmaker’s ability to provide a suitable terrain.
“We were lucky that we invested heavily in snowmaking equipment two summers ago,” said Beth Jahnigen, public relations coordinator for Copper Mountain. “The new equipment helped us to establish a good base of snow.
“The quality of the snow is good, although the quantity may be poor,” she said.
This year, Copper Mountain is offering incentives to pass holders.
“There is a no snow guarantee on our passes this year,” Jahnigen said. “If you are dissatisfied with your experience before Dec. 13, we will give you a full refund.”
This guarantee sounds great to many students, including Bill Krebsbach, a sophomore electrical engineering major. Krebsbach recently bought a Copper pass for this season.
“Due to the lack of snowfall early in the season last year, I did a lot of back-country skiing because the upper parts of the mountains were not open yet,” Krebsbach said. “I enjoy back-country skiing because of the different type of terrain that it offers, but I would like to get good use out of my pass this year.”
A mild winter and lack of snowfall here in Colorado will not keep students like Krebsbach off their snowboards.
“If we don’t get enough snow up here, there is always Utah,” Kresbach said. “That is definitely where I will be.”
-Edited by Vince Blaser and Becky Waddingham
Colorado Ski Area Opening Dates:
Copper Mountain: 11/2
Winter Park: 11/13
Arapahoe Basin: 11/15
Beaver Creek: 11/16
Aspen Mountain: 11/28
Aspen Highlands: 12/14
Crested Butte: 12/14