- Associated Press - Sunday, March 16, 2014

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota’s winter season delivered plenty of snow, but the frigid temperatures kept skiers and snowboarders from enjoying all the powder.

Many in the skiing industry thought 2014 was shaping up to be a record-setting year. Instead it’s been disappointingly average, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported (https://strib.mn/1gDhRSA ) Sunday.

“We were off to a great start, but business cooled off after the polar vortex kicked in,” said Renee Mattson, the executive director at Spirit Mountain in Duluth.

Other Duluth resorts such as Lutsen Mountains and Spirit Mountain said revenues were down about 20 percent on the especially cold days.

Ski resorts can generally count on a big boost in business on snow days when schools are closed. However, on several snow days this year the resorts closed as well, said Luci Botzek, the executive director of the Minnesota Ski Areas Association

“They had to balance wanting customers and also wanting them to be safe,” Botzek said.

The ski season got off to a good start when cooler temperatures arrived in November. Spirit Mountain opened Nov. 16, while Buck Hill in Burnsville and Afton Alps in Hastings both opened around Thanksgiving.

But they also shut down early or stayed closed altogether on the coldest days, forfeiting five to 10 days of revenue.

Several resorts are hoping to compensate by staying open into April, if the weather doesn’t warm up too fast. Lutsen Mountains usually stays open until mid-April, but co-owner Charles Skinner said he’s hoping for an extra week.

“We’re staying open to handle pent-up demand,” he said. “Forty percent of our business occurs after March 1.”

Recent weather has been promising. With 40-degree temperatures last weekend, business doubled at Lutsen and Hyland.

There’s also still plenty of snow on the ground, which is good news for ski resorts.

“We like it when there’s still snow around for people to see because it serves as a reminder to ski,” Mattson said.


Information from: Star Tribune, https://www.startribune.com

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