Businesses, skiers running out of patience for snow
December 26, 2017 07:20 PM
NORTHERN NEW MEXICO – An unseasonably warm and dry winter has some people rejoicing, but not those who are looking to hit the slopes.
The owner of Alpine Sports in Santa Fe, Shirlee Cole, said business is usually booming this time of year, with visitors coming in to get skis and boards before heading up the mountain.
But this year is a different story. Still, Cole is staying positive even though much of her livelihood depends on that wet powder that just hasn't been falling from the sky.
"You can't get down about it because it's not something you can necessarily control," Cole said.
She said sales are down at least 30 percent at her shop, with rentals taking the hardest hit.
"This time last year we were definitely out of rentals. One or two would come in, they'd immediately go back out. Or if we did have rentals, there was a bit of a wait," she said.
According to Cole, rentals make up about a third of her business. Alpine Sports has also boosted their sales and offered online deals to make up for the slow start to the season.
The winter of 2017 isn't all bad news; she said retail sales are holding steady.
"It's still chilly out, so at least there's a reason for jackets and gloves."
While Cole said she would like to see more excitement, she knows not much will change unless some snow falls first – something she hopes happens soon.
Meanwhile, at the base of the mountain at Ski Santa Fe, it may look like there's a lot of snow, but it's all man-made. Crews have been working around the clock to maintain the small amount of artificial white powder.
But real snow is something skiers and snowboarders are still waiting for.
"I've been here since 1984 when we took over the mountain, and I've never seen such a weak snowfall in all my years," said Ski Santa Fe General Manager Benny Abruzzo.
He said that so far this season, they've had a whopping six inches of snow. The artificial snow being made is enough to open just 19 percent of the mountain.
Where it's closed, Abruzzo says, there are perfect conditions for a different kind of outdoor recreator.
"The conditions where we're open are wonderful. Where we're not, it's dirt," Abruzzo said. "It's a nice place to go for a walk."
The manager said the week after Christmas is typically one of the resort's busiest, but this year they've had about 50 percent fewer visitors. And most of them are just learning -- employees have been able to open slopes primarily only for beginners, which advanced runs closed.
Ski Santa Fe employees say if the season doesn't pick up, it could impact the improvements that they are able to make on the mountain in the coming years.
Updated: December 26, 2017 07:20 PM
Created: December 26, 2017 04:35 PM
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