Just how good was it, this 2017-18 season?
It started Wednesday, Nov. 8 when Killington Resort started blowing snow and turning the bullwheels and the season stretched until the last chair emptied a skier on Saturday, May 26, even as golfers played the nearby courses and mountain bikers began to snake through the forest trails. But that was just lift served. At resorts around the state skiers were hiking for the last patches of snow into June.
Spring snowfall that dumped as much as five feet in 48 hours in parts of southern Vermont allowed Mount Snow to host its annual Memorial Day jam at Carinthia and farther north, warm temperatures and a solid snowpack had Sugarbush skiers lining up for “Tee and Ski” on May 5 and skiing was in full swing at Jay Peak into May. The day after Cinco de Mayo marked Jay Peaks 167th day of skiing. “It was the longest season in recent memory with no shut downs. The snowpack was so deep we could keep things going 7 days a week,” said JJ Tolland.
Despite, predictions that were all over the map, it was a solid year for Vermont’s ski areas, with few rain “events” as they are called and, other than a frigid week or two over the Christmas holiday season, Mother Nature smiled on Vermont.
And according to data released today by the Vermont Ski Areas Association, it was very good year for business. Skier/rider visits were the highest in three years, coming in just shy of 4 million at 3,970,987, the highest in three years, but far from the 4-million plus numbers that appeared before most resorts went to ticket scanning. As for average snowfall, it was a healthy 204 inches, versus 260 last season and well above the dismal 107 inches in 2015-16. “Had we had a normal Christmas, instead of -30 degrees for nine days, we would have been over 4 million this year. It’s the first time we’ve ever told people not to come,” Tolland says.
How was it? As VSAA’s Molly Mahar said, “if only for Chilly Willy, as Mad River Glen’s Eric Friedman called it, it would have been great.”
Vermont Skier/Rider Visits, via Vermont Ski Areas Association
Photo: Smuggler’s Notch early season. Courtesy Smuggler’s Notch.