By Deb Everts
Mother Nature can’t seem to make up her mind whether it’s winter or spring, and Old Man Winter has been a bit sluggish this ski season.
Jane Eshbaugh, marketing director at Holiday Valley Ski Resort, said there have been a lot of weather cycles, but the challenging part is there have been a lot of warm-up cycles in-between.
She said as of Feb. 3, the resort had reported 104 inches of snow so far this year, which is pretty much average.
“There have been more sunny days than normal, which is nice, and the temperatures have been a little above normal,” she said. “The benefit is beginners are more likely to come out and go skiing when it’s a little bit warmer.”
According to Eshbaugh, Holiday Valley has a really good base down on the slopes and there is still plenty of snow. She said the resort has an amazing snowmaking system. They can turn it on all at once so anytime it’s cold, they can take advantage of it quickly.
“Just convincing people that there is snow here (at Holiday Valley) is the challenge, although they can look at our webcam online and see that,” she said.
Eshbaugh said last year was a good year at the ski resort, and better than their five-year average. She said they had 132 days of skiing and about 190 inches of natural snow, which was about 10 inches more than average.
“With the natural snow, we also had a lot of weather cycles last year, so 190 inches didn’t just accumulate over the whole season. It comes and goes, then gets packed down,” she said. “We made 1,412 acre-feet of manmade snow. If it were spread out, it would be like 1,412 acres covered with one-foot of snow. It’s the second-highest amount of manmade snow that we’ve had in our history, and it was on top of a good amount of natural snow.”
Several records were broken last year at Holiday Valley. Eshbaugh said they had a record-breaking 55 inches of natural snow in November 2018 and, because the skiing was so great, a record number of visitors came that month as well.
Another record was set because the resort saw more first-time skiers and snowboarders last year than ever before. There was also a record year at the tubing park.
Eshbaugh said when Holiday Valley ended its ski season last year on April 7, they still had three lifts open and about 20 slopes.
“The temperatures this season have been warmer than we normally see, but you never know until the end of winter what the whole season is going to be,” she said. “We had an extremely cold November. Who knows what February and March will bring.”
Greg Culver, marketing and sales director at HoliMont Ski Resort, said they are “sitting pretty” right now and they have lots of snow left for skiing. He said they’ve been able to maintain their snow and the conditions at HoliMont are really good.
“I know the weather has been kind of up and down,” he said. “One of the best quotes I got from a weekday skier a couple of weeks ago was, ‘You know, winter hasn’t really reared its teeth. You guys have phenomenal snow and the drive down here (Ellicottville) has been fantastic.’”
Culver said this skier was right — it’s never been easier to get down to Ellicottville for great skiing.