ski industy

‘Winter's Back': After January Thaw, Vt. Resorts Cheer Cold & Snow

The turnaround in the weather came just in time for the all-important Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend

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Vermont ski resorts are celebrating a turnaround in the weather and snow conditions, just in time for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, which is a major weekend for business.

“Winter’s back,” beamed Mike Chait of the Smugglers’ Notch Resort.

It’s back after record-high temperatures and rain last weekend did a number on the state’s snowpack and on the conditions on the slopes.

However, in just a few days, temperatures plunged so resorts’ snow guns could go into recovery mode. Natural snow fell, too, with more on the way for the weekend.

“A week ago, we were a little bit nervous,” Chait said. “But looking ahead, snowmakers saw the forecast and knew they’d be able to fire back up and have no problems.”

The trade group Ski Vermont said the state’s resorts have spent $80-million over the past six years on efficient snowmaking systems that have made them better able to bounce back from thaws like the one we just saw.

“It was 70 degrees last weekend in New York,” recalled Adriana Rivera, who traveled to Smugglers’ Notch from Brooklyn for snowboarding. “I like having wintertime and getting to see the snow and getting to do this.”

“It’s nice—real nice,” Jim Szasz of Kissimmee, Florida said of the skiing Friday at Smuggs. “Yesterday there was a lot of powder and today it’s nice and smooth. Really nice out there.”

Last season, Vermont saw more than 4-million skier and rider visits to the state’s destinations. Winter sports have long been a valuable and iconic part of the Vermont economy.

Destinations statewide celebrated the weather turnaround in posts on social media.

Pico Mountain called Friday a great day, despite frigid single-digit temperatures.

Jay Peak acknowledged a “rollercoaster of a season,” adding it’s grateful for the improvement to mountain conditions.

Mount Snow told its followers, “Keep up those snow dances, they’re working.”

Back at Smuggs, where the resort said lodging is essentially booked solid for the holiday weekend, the good news for skiers and riders is temperatures look to be rising into more typical territory for January, following Friday’s bitter cold.

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