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Winter Sports Enthusiasts Glad To See Snow

File photo of snow
WAMC/Pat Bradley

You may be grumbling about a rough commute and the snow on your driveway today, but winter sports enthusiasts are exuberant about the first substantial snowfall of the season.

“The only time I get bummed out about a snowstorm is when it dies out.”  
Jim McCulley is President of the Lake Placid Snowmobile Club and was about to do a test run of their trail system groomer Wednesday afternoon. With another 6 to 12 inches expected for some areas by Thursday, he says the snow will provide a great base for this season’s snowmobiling.   “What we try to do in the beginning is compact the snow and get yourself a good base. Then everything that falls on that makes it much easier to maintain.”

Nordic, or cross-country, ski centers are also enthusiastic about the new snow. Middlebury College’s Rikert Nordic Center grooms 50 kilometers of cross-country ski trails when at full operations. Director Michael Hussey says the snow is too heavy right now to groom, but when they do, it will allow them to open the entire trail system.   “Certainly its skiable as such but for us to go groom it and create a decent skiing product for today would jeopardize the quality of the skiing down the road. In my opinion anyway. So I’ve decided just to let it sit for a day or two. Get through the storm and then we’ll start to groom it and by the weekend we’ll have some great skiing. This allows us to expand the trail system exponentially with the natural snow. So that’s wonderful.”

High elevation resorts saw snowfall prior to Thanksgiving, resulting in a record number of alpine and nordic centers opening, according to Ski Vermont President Parker Riehle.  “Now on the heels of that here in early December we’ve got this huge storm coming through over several days that really sets us up very well for the weeks leading up to the very critical Christmas - New Year’s holiday vacation period. And that’s really the big kick-off crowd event for the season. But right now there are folks out there just chomping on the bit to get on the hill coming off of such a great season last year. So all-in-all it’s just really exciting. And all of that coupled with our over 80 percent statewide snowmaking coverage that we have with better guns that can make more snow with less energy,  it’s a great win-win for the industry and  an ideal way to kick things off.”

Snowmobiler Jim McCulley calls this early snowfall a huge economic boost for the Adirondack winter economy.  “Your average snowmobiler spends I think its $113 a day. That’s obviously on food, gas, lodging. It’s not only that, but especially this time of year they’re buying the $300 helmets. They’re buying new gloves. They’re buying the gear. A new snowmobile averages right around $10,000. Then they figure they spend about another $3,000 a year on gear, whether it be communicators and your leathers and everything. So it’s a big impact in an area like this. And with it coming as early as it is it just gets the season going that much faster for the businesses that cater to snowmobiles.”

The slow-moving storm has left up to 10 inches of snow in parts upstate New York. The National Weather Service in Vermont says total storm accumulations of heavy, dense snow could reach 16 inches.

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