North Carolina’s Cataloochee Ski Area had about 400 skiers on the slopes Wednesday, setting a record for early season ticket sales. “It’s like mid-winter conditions with blue skies and packed powder conditions,” says general manager Chris Bates, who had just taken several runs. “Sandy was a tragic event, but it has a silver lining for us.”
The snow came courtesy of the same cold weather system that had been slowly moving across the country since dropping three feet in Tahoe and several feet in Colorado, Utah and the Tetons last week. This cold system collided with the moisture brought landward by Sandy. “It was the perfect storm,” says Colorado-based meteorologist Joel Gratz, founder of opensnow.com.
The snow is especially meaningful following last winter, the worst in 20 years in the Southeast where snow totals were down 60 percent from the average. Some ski industry officials say the early snowfall could cause the “backyard effect,” whereby skiers who see snow in their back yards start making plans to ski. “Research shows us that the sight of snow in the region spurs sales of snow sports gear, resort reservations and pass sales,” says Kelly Davis, research director at the trade group Snowsports Industries America. She expected the “Snowicane” to boost holiday sales in the mid-Atlantic. “When people see snow they get fired up.” —By PAUL TOLME
Photo Courtesy of: Snowshoe Mountain