Ski Areas Look To MLK Weekend For Boost

01/13/12 5:50PM By Nina Keck
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AP/Toby Talbot
Snow flies past the ski shop sign at the Morse Farm Ski Touring Center shop Friday in East Montpelier.

(Host)  After a disappointing Christmas holiday, Vermont's ski resorts say this week's snow couldn't have come at a better time. That's because Martin Luther King weekend has become such an important part of their season.

VPR's Nina Keck has more.

(Keck) Win Smith, president of Sugarbush Resort, says the 5 to 7 seven inches of fresh powder they got is just what they needed going into the holiday weekend.

(Smith) "This snow came at absolutely the right time. Before the snow it was cold and we were making the snow. So we were at close to 60 percent open. So we had a lot of good terrain.   But when you get a storm like this followed by a second storm tonight , it's just icing on the cake and it's just what the doctor ordered."

(Keck) Smith says skier visits to Sugarbush over the Christmas holiday were down 7 percent to 8 percent compared to last year. He says December is always iffy when it comes to snow, which is why Martin Luther King weekend has become even more important to the industry.

(Smith) "So we have actually seen our busiest days over MLK weekend. Now for February break which lasts anywhere from 7 to 10 days, you get more skier visits but this you concentrate it into three and it's really our third big holiday that we need to hit to have a good season."

Bonnie MacPherson, a spokesperson for Okemo Ski Resort, says their skier visits were down 28 percent over Christmas.   

But she says fresh powder, plus cold temperatures should make for a banner holiday weekend.

(MacPherson) "The phones are ringing like crazy. It's really encouraging. Our lodging occupancy is just below 90 percent right now and I think today and tomorrow with the snow and the great weekend coming, it's going to be really lined up well."

(Keck) Okemo currently has 73 of its 119 trails open. MacPhearson says with snowmaking going at full throttle, they'll open 12 more trails this weekend.   

For VPR News, I'm Nina Keck




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