Poor snowfall last year raises questions: will students still ski?

Although the ski slopes of Steamboat Springs don’t have snow yet, winter is fast approaching

With the blistering heat and drought that summer brought finally dissipating into the cool wet of autumn, Coloradans can finally switch their focus from that of manic pandemonium because of fire dangers to that of relaxation and reflection during the fall.

However, with the first snow of the season being sighted in Summit County less than two weeks ago the state is abuzz and focused on one thing: winter. To the typical DU student winter means so much more than just snow and cold, it means ski season.

As most who were here last year know the 2011/2012 ski season could only be described as disappointing among many other things. It is true; last year was by far one of the worst years for skiing in the history of Colorado.

Almost all ski resorts in Colorado recorded the lowest total snowfall in 2011/2012 than they had the seven previous years. A chart recording monthly and total snowfall for Copper Mountain over the past seven years shows just how poor last year was for snowfall.

Just about every month had less snowfall recorded in 2011/2012 than the previous months of the prior years. Copper Mountain is only one ski resort but it is located on the I-70 corridor and receives its snow from the same place as six other ski resorts including Loveland, A-Basin, Breckenridge, Keystone, Vail, and Beaver Creek which are all extremely popular places for students to go skiing at.

Is Vail Worried?
Vail Resorts owns a total of six mountains between Colorado Nevada and California and offers the extremely popular Epic and Epic Local ski passes which are typically the two most popular passes that DU students purchase.

According to The Business Journal, Vail Ski Resorts experienced 50% less cumulative snow than previous years and snowfall was down more than 70% for March alone. Total recorded net revenues for the fiscal quarter ending April 30, 2012 were $421.1 million which was a small decrease from the net revenue of $422.1 million recorded for the same fiscal quarter a year before.

Despite third quarter total revenues being lower than previous years Chief Executive Officer of Vail Resorts Rob Katz thought the results were a positive.

“We are pleased with our third quarter results as they evidenced our ability to successfully navigate the most challenging winter in the history of the United States ski industry,” said Katz to The Business Journal.

Katz also reported to The Business Journal that despite poor snowfall, spring pass sales for the 2012/2013 ski season were up 17% in units and 22% in sales dollars through May 29, 2012 as compared to sales spring ending May 29, 2011.

Despite the past year’s despicable snowfall it appears as though Vail Resorts has close to nothing to worry about with the upcoming year. It seems as though ski enthusiasts really aren’t too particular when it comes to snowfall, but is this the case for DU students?

Loveland is one of the many ski resorts that sit along the I-70 cooridor

What the Students Think
The DU Alpine Club debatably is one of the most popular clubs on campus and boasts one of the largest student memberships at DU. The club hosts a variety of outdoor trips and activities including but not limited to rock climbing, camping, hiking, rafting, ice climbing, and of course skiing.

Hunter Swanson is a business student at the University of Denver and has been an officer for the Alpine club for the past four years. This year he is the Vice President of the entire club.

“Ski trips are by far the most popular events we host and we offer ski trips based on all varying levels of ability from beginners trips to our Silverton trip which is reserved for experts only,” said Swanson.

On average the Alpine Club gets about 350 members a year. Last year they signed up approximately 400 members and this year membership is down to roughly 275.

“I don’t think the poor snow last year has anything to do with fewer members this year,” reported Swanson, “we have a lot of members abroad right now and once the ski season starts more and more people will sign up.”

Even though the ski season is even farther away from students abroad, they are still waiting in anticipation for when they return to the mountains of Colorado. Ski connoisseur Tyler Kozole had this to say from Madrid, Spain:

“I’m not going to let last year’s snow affect my decision to ski at all this year. Any season can be epic or mediocre and that’s a gamble I’ll always take. If anything, last year’s terrible snow will make me want to ski more!”

Even halfway across the globe, the thought of skiing is almost always present to the college students of DU.

“I don’t think last year will affect anyone from skiing this year,” said Kozole, “anybody who is a knowledgeable tourist or a regular skier will almost certainly not be jaded towards skiing simply because of a bad year, if anything, it’s probably the opposite case and people will likely be trying harder than ever to get up to the mountains as much as possible to compensate for a lousy last season.”

What about the students currently on campus, will they be deterred from skiing this year?

“Yeah last year was terrible and I skied maybe like five times,” said Margo Mckearnan a junior at Du, “but I think we’ll have a much better year and I don’t think anyone won’t go skiing because of last year.”

It seems quite apparent that last season has had almost no effect on Colorado whether it is the profits of Vail Resort or the students of DU’s will to go skiing. Truly it seems like last year is a shadow that none will forget but that none want to talk about. So with that behind us, what do we have to look forward to this upcoming ski season?

The 2012/2013 ski season
In Colorado one bad ski year is rare. Yes last year was one of the if not the worst year recorded for snow in state history, but we mustn’t forget that the season before in 2010 was a record setting year for snowfall.

Living in Colorado we choose to expose ourselves to the variable and harsh weather conditions that Colorado is known for. The only real way to predict or know what the weather is like is to go outside and look for yourself.

With the 2010/2011 season setting records for snowfall and the 2011/2012 season setting records for lack of snowfall who knows what the 2012/2013 season has in store for us and the truth is we won’t know until it arrives.

“My favorite forecast has always been it may or may not snow this year,” joked Swanson.

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