(NECN: Jack Thurston, Bolton, Vt.) - The Vista Quad, the major ski lift at Vermont's Bolton Valley Resort, was not spinning for part of the morning Monday. Winds across the Green Mountain State gusted to 40 or 50 miles an hour, meaning the Vista’s chairs could have been swinging dangerously.
The shutdown had Zach Napolitano of Colchester, Vt. and his buddies waiting to enjoy top-to-bottom skiing and boarding at Bolton. "It's kind of a bummer because obviously there's a lot less open, a lot less opportunity for us to ski," Napolitano said.
Bolton Valley was far from alone this holiday weekend. Many of Vermont's ski resorts battled wind holds, including Mt. Snow, Killington, Jay Peak, and Sugarbush. All posted condition reports to their websites or Twitter accounts alerting visitors that some of their lifts were temporarily closed for at least part of the day Monday. "It's an outdoor sport and weather sometimes affects lift operations, especially when you get a wind that blows across the lift line and it'll swing the chairs left and right," said Bolton Valley's Josh Arneson.
Arneson added that wind delays are not uncommon for any resort, and said putting lift operations on pause is just a safety-first policy and part of doing business. Bolton pointed out when one lift does have to close, others can usually stay open, because depending on wind direction, they're not all exposed to the elements in the same way.
Jeff Salvador of Worcester, Vt., brought his family to Bolton for some holiday skiing. He told NECN skiers have to roll with the punches when it comes to wind hold. "It is what it is. You can stay home and watch TV or you can come out and go skiing," Salvador said. "If we could have as much snow as we have wind, we'd be all set!"
Vermont resorts benefited from the recent snowfall, but many have suggested the state could use even more natural snow to bolster its critical skiing and riding industry. The winter sports combine to generate about $750-million in direct spending each year in Vermont, creating even more economic activity, the trade group Ski Vermont has said. Vermont’s reputation for natural snowfall, combined with snow-making infrastructure at many resorts, has made the state the top skiing destination in the East, according to Ski Vermont.
For the February school vacation weeks, which are major factors in determining the success of the season, Vermont resorts including Bolton are reporting strong bookings. Arneson said Bolton's hotel occupancy rate is at about 75 percent this week; a strong figure for the destination.
Arneson added that the week of February 25-March 1 will feature lots of free family entertainment at Bolton, including puppet shows, magic shows, and dog sledding, in an attempt to lure more guests to the mountain during the week many northern Vermont schools are on vacation.
After a short while, Bolton's Vista Quad did re-open Monday morning when the winds died down. That meant Zach Napolitano and his friends got to take the runs they wanted to. "I'd say it's definitely worth the wait," one of the members of the group beamed.