April 15, 2013

Ski season takes turn for the better

Ski areas say they've had a strong season as big storms still have customers on the slopes.

By KAITLIN SCHROEDER Morning Sentinel

After last year's historically low snowfall, skiers came out in force this winter.

click image to enlarge

Snow enthusiasts like this February skier in Portland enjoyed the abundance of snowfall this winter. Ski areas say they’ve seen increased business due to numerous winter storms and many are still open for late-season runs.

Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Ski areas in northwestern Maine are reporting higher attendance and a longer season this year, citing significantly heavier snowfall and colder weather in comparison to the warm previous season.

Judy Morton, executive director of the Rangeley Lakes Chamber of Commerce, said when the state has heavy snowfall, it boosts the economy in areas such as Rangeley that depend on visitors coming for winter activities.

While northern Maine usually can count on snow, she said it's important to winter sport businesses that southern Maine get snow, too.

The widespread snowfall helps increase business because of the additional interest in winter sports.

Morton said while Portland and Boston residents may dread winter storms, Rangeley and other northern areas embrace them as an important part of their economy.

"We know what to do with snow here," she said.

JoAnne Taylor, director of marketing and communications for Saddleback ski area, said last season the resort reported 133 inches of snow. This season it has had 215 inches and is expecting more.

While last year Saddleback closed April 14, this year it plans to stay open the rest of April.

"If they don't have it all out of their system, there's still time," Taylor said of skiers.

Manager Karleen Andrews of Titcomb Mountain in Farmington said the ski area had a good season because of the consistency in snowfall, which helps increase day-ticket and season-pass sales.

"If they're confident there is going to be snow, they're more likely to buy a season pass," she said.

The length of the season differs from year to year, depending on the weather, she said, because the small mountain doesn't have the elevation or the resources of the larger ski resorts.

Because of the unexpected snowfall Titcomb received in mid-March, the ski area's board decided to reopen the mountain the weekend of March 23 and 24. Andrews said in the nine years she has worked there, the mountain has never been open those days.

"It was definitely a first," she said.

Kaitlin Schroeder can be contacted at 861-9252 or at:

kschroeder@mainetoday.com

 

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