Ski Resorts Pleased With Holiday Turnout

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(Host)  This weekend’s snowstorm has been great for downhill and cross-country skiers.  

As VPR’s Nina Keck reports, ski resorts across Vermont say they’ve had better than expected turnouts over the holidays. 

(Keck)  Many resorts scaled back their projections for ticket sales this year because of the economy.   A lack of snow early in the season didn’t help things.  But several recent snowstorms along the east coast, cold weather and lots of fresh powder this weekend have made all the difference.  Charlie Herrick is director of skiing at the Von Trapp Family Nordic Center in Stowe.   He says their holiday cross country skier visits were up 20% compared to last year.

(Herrick) "And now we have anywhere from a 25 to 35 inch base and about 12 inches of new snow so skiing couldn’t be better."

(Keck)  At the Mountain Top Inn and Nordic Center in Chittenden, Activities Director Roger Hill says abundant snow allowed them to open their longest more popular trails a bit earlier than usual.

(Hill)  "We’re seeing lots of phone calls, lots of inquiries about what we have open. 

(Keck)  And he says season pass sales have risen dramatically.

(Hill) "New Year’s Day for instance we saw an increase of about 130% in year over year revenue.  And about half of that revenue equates to skier visits and rentals and the other half equates to other activities that we offer at the resort."

(Keck) At Mad River Glenn, spokesman Eric Friedman says compared to last year, this holiday has been fabulous.

(Friedman) "Last year was the year where it rained right before Christmas and we were totally shut down and it was really grim. "

(Keck)  Friedman says the big storms that hit Boston and New York a few weeks ago helped jumpstart the season.

(Friedman) "Cuz that really makes skiing top of mind for people.  And then snowing 33 inches in Burlington I mean how awesome is that – it does nothing but make people want to go skiing so it’s good for everybody."  

(Keck)  Officials at Okemo Mountain say holiday skier visits jumped 12% ahead of projections.   And Okemo’s season pass sales for the year are also up 12%.   Tom Horrocks a spokesman for Killington and Pico says that while Killington saw its holiday skier visits drop slightly compared to last year, Pico’s numbers went through the roof.

(Horrocks) "Pico was up double digits over to last year.   We did almost twice as many skier visits at Pico Mountain during the holiday period this year than we did last year."    

(Keck)  And he says season pass sales for Pico are up 100%.  Horrocks says Pico heavily promoted a low cost season pass deal last spring which he says was extremely popular with locals.   But while good deals help, Horrocks says most skiers still base their vacation plans on the weather which so far has been cooperating.

(Horrocks) "All the new snow that we have received has translated into a lot of bookings coming up for the month of January.   And we’re pacing ahead significantly as compared to last year when it comes to January bookings.  So all good signs as we’re heading into the middle of the season."

(Keck)  . . . and the next big ski holiday – Martin Luther King weekend.  

For VPR news, I’m Nina Keck.

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