Foot of snow boosts ski centers

Riding high!: Photo by Dick SanfordRiding high!: Photo by Dick Sanford
By Joe Moskowitz
When life sends you lemons, the opportunist makes lemonade. In the Catskills, when Mother Nature sends snow, ski area operators make money.
That has always been the plan for the Central Catskills’ two ski areas and the other area related businesses that depend on what some may consider just plain bad weather.
This year, winter is off to a cold and snowy start and that has the owners and operators at Plattekill and Belleayre ski centers happier than an opportunist making lemonade.
Last weekend’s snowstorm brought good early-season crowds to both mountains. Belleayre General Manager Tommy Tar told the News Monday that one early-season storm will have an effect that goes far beyond one weekend.
Tar said it didn’t just snow here. The people who live in the New York Metropolitan area saw it fall on their lawns and outside their windows and that got them in the mood for skiing.
It’s not just theory. He says reservations for Belleayre’s ski and snowboard programs are way up over recent years.
At both Belleayre and Plattekill, natural snow, and weeks of cold weather ideal for producing man-made snow, has the mountains covered. Tar, who has been coming to Belleayre since 1978, said this is the first time he can remember that all of the trails at Belleayre will be open before Christmas. He said that sometimes Belleayre becomes 100 percent operational during the holiday break, but this season they are already covered. He is predicting huge crowds over the Christmas to New Year holiday.

Just like February
Tar described the appearance and conditions as “February excellen,t” much better than one would expect for December.
He also credits improved snow making equipment at the mountain and he credits that to the new administration running the facility. Tarr said the Olympic Regional Development Authority, the state agency that took over control from the Department of Environmental Conservation at the beginning of the last ski season, understands the business and what is needed to run a ski area.
But nothing is better for the ski business than natural snow and cold weather, especially when some snow falls in the Metropolitan New York area, and thanks to nature and technology, there is plenty of that on the trails as the new ski season gets underway during the critical Christmas season.