Greek Peak resortHow does a ski area overcome last winter’s dry season in the east, coupled with the failure of its chief lender in January, followed by filing Chapter 11 re-organization bankruptcy in August? Apparently in this industry, a good snowstorm or two cures all. 


Such has been the recent existence of Greek Peak in Central New York, about 30 minutes south of Syracuse. Cortland County’s largest employer, it was revealed in published reports, owed $47 million. But after Tennessee Commerce Bank ceased operations, Greek Peak still needed a $2 million line of credit to provide the needed cash flow so it could spin its lifts this winter. 


That the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, after assuming Greek Peak’s debt load, took what could be interpreted as a leap of faith. The 2012-2013 winter opened with a few well-documented snowstorms just before the holidays. After some 30 inches pounded the region, Greek Peak welcomed skiers and riders Christmas Eve with nearly 100 percent of the area open.                                            


The timing of the weather was good for snow sports enthusiasts and resort management. Conditions have been outstanding, and Greek Peak was able to have a financially successful holiday period, the most crucial time frame on a resort’s calendar.


The timing of some other ventures, however, was not so good. Between 2009 and 2011, near the height of the nation’s financial crash, Greek Peak opened Hope Lake Lodge, complete with 106 condo units with indoor water park and spa. That was followed by a new Adventure Center and then a conference center. In all it was not enough to overcome last winter, in particular, despite a healthy population base and numerous colleges nearby. 


The Elmira Star-Gazette reported that $30 million in loans came through the bank. Five months after the Adventure Center opened, an audit by the FDIC revealed financial problems with the Tennessee lender. With the FDIC now involved in Greek Peak’s business, Al Kryger, president, must present a reorganization plan by the end of the season, according to the paper. 


All the financial ramifications aside, what does all this mean for the Greek Peak skier and rider? The perceived uncertainty might impact a decision on whether or not to purchase a season pass, and gaining the public’s confidence in the long haul could be a concern. Also, employee retention might eventually be an issue if Greek Peak doesn’t see daylight.


But at the moment, what skiers and boarders really care about is beneath their feet. Currently they see no troubles there – just an easy turning, machine-groomed and packed powder surface that covers 30 trails, including its terrain park, and a two foot average base. With five lifts cranking until 10 p.m., Kryger’s crew is continuing to provide meaningful guest service as they navigate through other situations.


Photo: Greek Peak Resort