[Almost] Hitting The Slopes
Area Resorts Hope Change In Weather Means Ski Season Start Near
Posted: December 21, 2012
Massanutten Resort lift mechanics Jeff Cook of Mount Solon (left) and Brandon Dean of Elkton tighten each ski lift after properly spacing them on Thursday afternoon for the upcoming ski season. (Photo by Nikki Fox)
Perhaps with today the first official day of winter, a change in the weather is in the offing. At least those who oversee the ski areas at Massanutten Resort and Bryce Resort are hopeful they’ll be able to open as soon as this weekend.
“Our goal at this point would be to open on Monday; we don’t know [if we can], we are at the whims of Mother Nature,” said Kenny Hess, director of sports and risk management at Massanutten. “We will make snow every chance we get from here on out.”
Last year, the resort was able to make enough snow to open on Dec. 13, but Hess said temperatures have to be consistently below freezing for the slopes to stay white.
Forecasts show low temperatures in the mid- to high 20s throughout the weekend, with daytime highs in the 30s and 40s.
“We’ve made snow a couple different times, most all of it has melted,” Hess said.
Humidity also plays a part.
“The temperatures haven’t been where we wanted them to be for snowmaking; the humidity’s been really high,” said Ryan Locher, ski area manager at Bryce Resort in Basye. “The humidity has been almost 100 percent. Humidity works hand in hand with snowmaking; if it is not low, it is hard to make snow.”
Locher said despite the weather conditions, the resort hopes to open for the season before Christmas.
“I think we’ll have no problem getting open by Sunday,” he said. “We’re looking forward to a good season and some cold weather.”
Since the coming week will be a busy one for the resorts, as people flock to the wintry getaways to celebrate the holidays, the pressure is on to set the atmosphere.
“We’re certainly concerned about it,” Locher said. “People come here to ski [and] we want to provide them the opportunity to do that.”
But at this point Hess and Locher think they can make up any money lost by opening later in the season if snow spread this weekend sticks.
“We’re obviously behind in the schedule because we haven’t been open and it’s tough to make up on that,” Hess said. “But if we get some cold weather and have some snow over the holiday period ... we can make most of it up.”
Added Locher: “We’re expecting to make it back. We might be a little bit under the gun, but I think we’ll pull it together.”
Wintergreen Resort in Nelson County is gearing up to open soon as well, no later than Wednesday, according to a resort representative.
Canaan Valley Resort in West Virginia has pegged Wednesday as its opening date and neighboring Timberline Resort is opening today.
Another West Virginia ski retreat, Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort, had good luck with temperatures this season and opened the day before Thanksgiving.
“It was actually a good early opening,” said David Dekema, director of marketing for Snowshoe. “That’s what happens in a good year.”
Contact Emily Sharrer at 574-6286 or firstname.lastname@example.org