A few shots of cold temperatures in mid-November allowed several Mid-Atlantic resorts to begin snowmaking, but a long stretch of cold temperatures has yet to arrive. Many resorts are waiting for a sustained blast of cold air before beginning aggressive snowmaking. On Tuesday, West Virginia’s Snowshoe Mountain Resort pushed back its opening date to November 29 -; but the actual opening date may be later, depending on when cold temperatures return. Snowshoe will delay opening until it’s sure it can open with a healthy number of trails and solid snow conditions.
“We don’t like to get the season going and then have to pull the plug,” explained Snowshoe’s Joe Stevens. “That isn’t fair to anyone involved.”
So far, one resort in the Mid-Atlantic was able to open -; but the opening was very short-lived. North Carolina’s Sugar Mountain Resort opened on Saturday, November 15, but closed after just two days of skiing.
The long-range forecast does not look promising for snowmaking. Last year, sub-freezing temperatures settled over the region by late November, but a sustained run of cold temperatures does not appear in the cards until early December.
According to SnowSports Industries America (SIA), consumers have been ringing up sales at ski retail shops across the country. In areas where weather has been chilly, retailers are reporting a 10-15% increase in sales over the same period last year. In warmer geographies, SIA reports that sales are running even with last year or down slightly.
“When retail traffic picks up, as the weather turns cold, snow sport retailers breathe a sigh of relief,” said Jim Spring of Leisure Trends Group. “This early baraometer is a good sign and it, along with some more snow, could foretell strong retail sales this winter,” he said. Many resorts in the Colorado Rockies have already received natural snow.
Dealers note that sales of ski systems and boots have been strong, but binding sales have been slow. Boots with soft shells have been strong sellers, and some retailers report that traditional ski apparel is making a comeback after being displaced by crossover and outdoor garments, although traditional ski apparel remains unpopular among the young.
If you don’t already have one, you want one. Apple’s iPod digital music player is expected to be one of the hottest selling gifts this Christmas season, and Burton Snowboards recently announced a new line of gear designed to complement the iPod.
“Whether at the beach, on campus or on the mountain, active iPod users can have control of up to 10,000 songs right from the Amp Pack,” said Stan Ng, a product manager at Apple. “The Amp Pack is one of the coolest accessories we’ve seen for the iPod and really brings a new meaning to on-the-go listening,” he added.
The backpack and new jackets feature SOFTswitch technology, which allows the iPod to be controlled through a soft, flexible control pad built into the pack’s shoulder strap. A secure iPod storage pocket is included, with a headphone port located on the shoulder strap. The jackets are machine washable once the iPod interface module is removed.
Burton Snowboard’s line of iPod accessories will be available in limited quantities this month, available for purchase through Burton’s on-line store at www.burton.com and through select authorized dealers in North America, Europe, and Japan.
Additional information on the iPod can be found at www.apple.com/ipod.
M. Scott Smith is the founder and Editor of DCSki. Scott loves outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, kayaking, skiing, and mountain biking. He is an avid photographer and writer.