Snow, cold keep New England skiers, riders stoked into May

AP News
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Posted: May 02, 2015 10:00 AM
Snow, cold keep New England skiers, riders stoked into May

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Skiers and snowboarders at Vermont's Sugarbush resort right now can spend the morning on the slopes and play golf in the afternoon — testament to the abundance of snow that extended the season at many northern New England ski areas.

Sugarbush is one of more than half dozen areas in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine still operating this weekend.

New Hampshire's Wildcat Mountain in Pinkham Notch prides itself on being the state's last ski area open in the spring but marketing director Thomas Prindle says they haven't made it into May in more than a decade.

"We've had six months of a phenomenal season," said Prindle, noting Wildcat was the first New Hampshire area to open on Nov. 9. The mountain had a 30 percent increase in skier visits compared to past years and this weekend marks Wildcat's grand finale.

Vermont's Killington Resort is shooting for June 1 for the first time in a decade, marketing director Michael Joseph said Friday. The mountain sold more than 2,000 of its spring season passes that are good from March 14 on — up from 600 last year.

Meteorologist Tony Vazzano of Center Sandwich, New Hampshire, is continuing to provide forecasts to many of the still-open areas on a daily basis, albeit from his vacation location on Chincoteague Island in Virginia.

"We've had so much snow and the cold to preserve it," Vazzano said. "We had storm after storm after storm."

At times the snow was so plentiful it was problematic. The blizzard in late January triggered travel warnings and skiers in the Boston area were shoveling rather than skiing. It was followed closely by four successive weekends of winter storms. Vazzano said a cold spell in February helped preserve the snow but discouraged some skiers.

"When you can't get out of your driveway you can't get to the mountain," Vazzano said. "But in the long run it helps. When there's snow in people's backyards they want to get up and go skiing."

Chris Young, who lives close enough to Vermont's Jay Peak to ski home, said there is still a lot of snow on the mountain just south of the Canadian border. This may be the last weekend the lifts are running, but Young isn't deterred.

"That doesn't stop us from climbing up and taking runs until the snow melts," Young said.

In Maine, Ron Jacques says he has skied about 60 days this season and plans to go right through the final day at Sugarloaf on Sunday. He hopes to keep skiing until the final chair heads up the mountain.

Jacques said Sugarloaf is closing because of a lack of skiers, not a lack of snow. Others who pack it in early are missing out, he said.

"There are no crowds," Jacques said. "It's 50 degrees. You've got the smell of suntan lotion. There's something about it that charges my life's battery."

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Associated Press writers David Sharp in Portland, Maine and Wilson Ring in Montpelier, Vermont, contributed to this report.