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Record Number of Ski Areas Open Early

file picture of skiing in Vermont
John Atkinson/Ski Vermont

A record number of ski areas in the region have opened before Thanksgiving this year. And it’s not just alpine areas. Nordic ski centers are among the resorts capitalizing on early winter conditions.

When the temperatures reach about 32 degrees with low humidity, ski areas begin to make their own snow. They lay a base that not only pads the trails, but protects the resorts from the variables in weather. This year, ski resorts across the region have been making snow for weeks, and several were able to open in early November.  Vermont Ski Areas Association President Parker Riehle reports there are a record number that have opened prior to the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and he says it’s entirely due to the snowmaking arsenal across the state.

Riehle adds that snowmaking is becoming as crucial for nordic areas as it is for the alpine resorts.

In Ripton, Vermont, the Rikert Nordic Center is operated by Middlebury College.  Director Michael Hussey says they make snow on more than 5 kilometers of trails. He explains that their snowmaking system, installed a year ago, enabled them to open on the 16th.

Hussey says there are more nordic areas using snowmaking. He estimates 14 overall in New England and New York - with 8 of them in Vermont.

Man-made snow is being created across the region. Ski Areas of New York President Scott Brandi had been at Royal Mountain, where the snow guns had allowed the ski center to open three weeks ahead of schedule.

Lyndon State College Mountain Resort Management Program Director, Professor Sean Doll, says snowmaking is an essential part of resort operations.

Colorado is first in skiier visits in the country, followed by California. Vermont is third with 4.5 million. New York, with over 50 ski areas, hosted 4 million skiiers last year and ranks 4th.

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