Plenty of snow translated into strong New England ski season
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — For those running ski resorts in New England, there was plenty to celebrate this past season thanks to abundant snow and frigid temperatures.
New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont all saw an increase in the numbers of skiers from the previous season.
As many as 100,000 more people hit the slopes in the Granite State during the 2018-2019 season, for a 5% increase over the previous year, according Ski NH’s President Jessyca Keeler. Maine saw a total of 1.23 million skiers for a 12% increase over the previous year, Greg Sweetser of the Ski Maine Association said on Friday. Ski Vermont, meanwhile, said resorts in the state had 207,000 more visitors than last season for an increase of 5%. That puts Vermont’s total number of skier and rider visits this past season at more than 4 million, the most since the 2014-2015 season and 1.2% higher than the 10-year average.
Officials said a key to the season’s success was abundant snowfall, especially early in the season, which allowed resorts to open earlier and remain in operation long into the spring — particularly in Vermont.
“This season’s robust skier and rider turnout was driven by a perfect storm of factors,” Ski Vermont President Molly Mahar said in a statement. “Early and abundant natural snow and consistent cold temperatures, combined with our member ski areas’ outstanding snowmaking and grooming capabilities, helped deliver excellent conditions throughout the season. ... It was a great season — historic and unforgettable.”
The Mad River Glen ski area, which has a limited snowmaking system, had the longest season in its 70-year history, with 135 days of operation, according to Ski Vermont.
“The holidays were really strong and we didn’t have any real bad weather events, and we kept our snow base. That meant that people were sort of excited about winter the whole time,” said John Bleh, public relations manager of the area’s Sugarbush Resort.
Ski NH officials said November and December were strong in terms of natural snowfall. And while the numbers of storms dropped off later in the ski season, continuing cold temperatures allowed ski areas to make plenty of snow.
In Maine, it was a topsy-turvy winter, weather-wise. The winter started early in November, a month when Maine’s Sugarloaf Mountain had 7 feet (2 meters) of snow, Sweetser said. While many winter storms were followed by warmer air, there were no extended thaws to hamper trail-grooming, he said. The ski season was shy of the high of 1.32 million skiers, which was recorded when Saddleback Mountain and Big Squaw Mountain were operating with all lifts.
Associated Press writers Lisa Rathke in Vermont and David Sharp in Maine contributed to this report.