Okemo's snowmaking covers 98 percent of its trails. (Okemo)
The Vermont Ski Areas Association, along with alpine and Nordic members, associate members and marketing partners gathered at Sugarbush Resort for the 47th Annual Meeting. The group paid tribute to Vermont’s statewide snowmaking firepower that made all the difference for terrain coverage in the face of a challenging winter season, bringing the final skier visit tally to 3,221,187.
With a low snowfall season, the recent Great Snow Gun Roundup paid major dividends, empowering resorts to make more snow with less energy and in more adverse conditions. After a late start with winter finally getting underway in early January, Vermont resorts mostly held their own with strong momentum going into the Presidents’ Week holiday period that saw the biggest numbers of the season and nearly matched last year’s levels.
“This year was a testament to our industry’s resilience with our snowmaking prowess and mountain operations teams that made the biggest difference we have ever seen in saving the season from low snowfall,” said Ski Vermont President Parker Riehle. “Onward to the 2016-17 season, we look forward to winter’s strong return to match the pent-up demand in our loyal core markets.”
At the annual gathering, Ski Vermont presented an overview of its efforts as the industry’s collective voice in learn-to programs, tradeshows, social media, press relations and at the legislature.
Retiring Suicide Six Ski Area General Manager and VSAA Board Member Chuck Vanderstreet was presented with the Industry Achievement Award in recognition of his 30 years of service and leadership at the resort.
Dr. Robert Johnson was given the Friend of the Industry Award for spearheading the collection and analysis of skier injury data at Sugarbush Resort since 1972, leading to dramatic improvements in equipment and industry standards that have greatly reduced injury rates.
Among the bright spots for Ski Vermont’s efforts, this year saw record increases in earned media and 5th Grade Passport sales.
Photo: Stowe snowmaking guns on at full blast. (Stowe)