N.H. ski areas extend season hoping to rake in some extra green

Last modified: 4/6/2015 4:49:01 PM
Ski enthusiasts were able to get in a few extra runs this weekend, as ski resorts capitalized on solid conditions to extend their seasons.

Waterville Valley, Loon Mountain and Mount Sunapee were among the resorts to stay open through Easter weekend.

“Because there is still so much snow on the ground in key market areas, people are still coming to the mountains,” said Jessyca Keeler, executive director of Ski NH.

The extra time might help make up for days lost to rain around Christmas and the near-Arctic conditions during Presidents Day weekend.

“We can make up some ground because the weather has been so favorable,” Keeler said.

Last season, New Hampshire resorts had 2.5 million visitors, according to Ski NH’s annual report. Alpine numbers were in line with the previous year and good enough to make it the sixth-best downhill ski season on record.

This year’s figures won’t be available until Ski NH collects rider totals and compiles them, but early indications are it was a good season.

“It’s not going to be our No. 1 season but it’s not going to be our worst, either,” Keeler said.

The late push capped a strong end to the season.

Gunstock Mountain Resort in Gilford welcomed 179,000 visitors this year, a solid season bolstered by record-breaking March.

“I think a big factor this year in particular is people aren’t getting out their golf clubs yet,” Keeler said. “People who would be playing other sports outside are asking, ‘What else can we do?’ and conditions are perfect for spring skiing.”

Waterville Valley will be open next weekend, and Sunapee extended its season through April 19.

“The conditions and the number of people we anticipate will actually come are the main factors that go into determining if we extended our season,” said Peter Sununu, director of marketing and communications at Waterville Valley. The snow base is in good shape and crowds throughout March have been great, so they step up and capitalize on the momentum, he said.

Most open resorts are operating nearly 100 percent of their trails, and it would take a long stretch of warm weather to make a dent in the snow, Keeler said.

“I know today is warm and nice, but it’s not enough to melt all the snow on the hills,” she said.

(Iain Wilson can be reached at 369-3313 or iwilson@cmonitor.com or on Twitter@iainwilsoncm.)


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