Preholiday snowstorms welcomed by ski areas

By Jay Braman Jr.
The economy might be down, but this year’s unexpected bounty of natural snow is doing lots to offset the problems local ski areas face.
At Belleayre, faces were long in the fall when it was announced that New York State, which owns and operates the facility, was tightening its belt and cutting back on Belleayre’s operating budget.
“In response to the state’s fiscal situation, Belleayre is taking a number of steps this season to operate more efficiently while continuing to deliver a world-class regional skiing experience,” said Belleayre spokesman Yancy Roy in October.” Two adjacent lifts will be closed in favor of a highly utilized lift, a change that will have only a marginal impact on lift capacity. While snowmaking and grooming on most of the mountain will be unchanged, several of the less frequently used trails will be open on a natural cover basis. Use of the “Half Pipe” terrain also will be weather dependent.”
With natural snow being more and more of an uncertainty due to climate change, no one had very high hopes. But that started to change just a little with a freak snowstorm in late October that left several inches on the slopes. Could it have been an omen?
Now, right before the all important holiday week, Mother Nature dropped an 18 inch payload. Belleayre’s Jonathan King explains.
“Belleayre Mountain gets walloped by snow! After the snowstorms finally subsided, Belleayre Mountain went from having 17 trails to 30 trails open,” King said.” The latest terrain includes the cross-country trails, Belleayre Run Glade, and Cathedral Brook.”
New this season, Belleayre Mountain will be opening a Demo Center on Friday, Dec. 26 in the Overlook Lodge thanks to a partnership between Blue Sky Sports and Jimmy’s Belleayre Ski Shop. The center will include the latest and greatest demo ski gear from Rossignol, Elan, Dynastar, Volkl, and Atomic. Customers can test out as much gear as their legs can handle plus take a group lesson from one of Belleayre Mountain’s highly trained instructors. The Demo Center will offer full tune-ups and a storage facility. Eliminate the hassle of carting gear back and forth by storing it at the Demo Center’s Ski Valet facility.
Over at Plattekill Mountain in Roxbury, owner Lazlo Vajtay was excited this week.
“Eighteen inches of new snow in the past weekend’s storms,” he said. “Conditions are fantastic!”
Plattekill has no less than 32 trails open right now for skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing.
Plattekill has made significant renovations to the base lodge with expanded seating areas and improved skier services. In addition to new grooming equipment, they have added a new snowmaking pump on-line for this winter expanding snowmaking capabilities twofold by doubling water pumping capacity.  Plus, for this season they have built an all new outdoor firepit to warm up to in between runs and on cold snowtubing nights.
Both Belleayre and Plattekill offer special deals and packages over the holidays. For more information contact Belleayre at 845 254-5600 or go to www.Belleayre.com on the web. Plattekill can be reached via the “snowphone” at 800-NEED-2-SKI or at www.Plattekill.com on the web.