Warm weather stalls ski season opening
By Jay Braman Jr.
The operators of the area’s ski resorts think that Mother Nature and Old Man Winter need to have a talk. Mild temperatures have set the stage for something not seen in years. A Thanksgiving weekend with no skiing in the Catskills.
Despite the best of intentions, the opening days at Belleayre, Hunter and Windham have been pushed back, with Belleayre which originally planned a November 14th opening now eying November 27th as the first day of skiing, although the warm, drizzly weather at press time Tuesday made that plan seem uncertain at best.
“With the entire Northeast covered with unseasonably warm temperatures, everyone is anxiously awaiting the arrival of winter,” said Belleayre spokesman J. Blake Killin on Monday. “It will only take a couple of cold nights to blanket several trails with enough snow to offer skiers and riders an enjoyable experience. And with each passing night, more trails will be covered, groomed and ready for action. The snow making system is tested and ready to go.”
But Belleayre’s plan seems to be an ambitious one, at least compared to what the other two facilities have in mind.
At Windham, spokesman Kirt Zimmer said they have set their sights on next week.
“The current forecast calls for snow Friday night and cold weather for the next few days,” said Zimmer Monday. “We should be able to begin snowmaking during that timeframe, but not be open for this weekend. The next weekend is looking good, but the disclaimer is always “weather permitting.”
Of the three ski centers, Hunter seems to be handling the matter the best.
Hunter Mountain Spokes-woman Jennifer Pezak said Monday that they will simply open when they are ready.
“As far as I can see, our opening weekend is going to be the first weekend in December. I think the days of racing to be the first resort open are over; right now we want to wait on good weather, make good snow, and have a great opening weekend,” she said.
Windham’s Zimmer added that no business on this coming holiday weekend would surely sting in the short term.
“This delayed start certainly cuts into our bottom line, but with some good weather in December we should be able to catch up,” he said. “The first week or two of the season aren’t typically very busy. Things really pick up in mid-December. Luckily, the long-range forecast is for a cold, snowy winter. Our season pass and value card sales this summer and fall were very strong, so that bodes well for the interest level of the marketplace. I visited a dozen ski shops last week and found a lot of positive energy for this season. I think there’s a lot of pent up demand and we’ll recover from the delayed opening just fine.”