Ideal weather keeps skiers on slopes at Western Pa. resorts
By Doug Gulasy
Published: Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, 10:06 a.m.
On Friday, the eve of Groundhog Day, Paul Gasparovic rooted for Punxsutawney Phil to see his shadow.
His reason was simple: He wants to keep skiing as long as he can after going just once last winter.
“Occasionally, it's nice to have a year like last year — you just do different things (other than skiing)” said Gasparovic, of Liberty, a member of the Pittsburgh Ski Club.
But, he added: “With it being so warm last year, I don't want an early spring this year.”
After a 2011-12 winter that saw higher-than-average temperatures and lower-than-average snowfall, the 2012-13 winter is bringing much more snow.
“Overall, we're a little bit warmer than average, with heavier snowfall,” said Pat Herald, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Moon.
Through Feb. 3, 30.2 inches of snowfall were reported in the Pittsburgh area, an increase from 19.6 inches in 2012 and from the normal rate of 22.8 inches.
That means ski resorts have been busier this year than last.
“It's definitely snowier than last year,” said Anna Weltz, a spokeswoman for Seven Springs Mountain Resort.
“When we had those frigid temperatures and those deep wind chills (in late January), we were presented with the opportunity to make snow, plus we were receiving snow on top of that.
“We were getting wonderful powder conditions. These are conditions that skiers and snowboarders crave.”
Three local skiing options — Boyce Park, Hidden Valley and Seven Springs — reported different results from the winter of 2011-12. While Seven Springs and Hidden Valley said business stayed close to normal, Allegheny County Parks Director Andy Baechle said last winter was “one of the worst years on record.”
Boyce Park, which aims to open 90 days a year, managed just 21 last winter because of lack of snowfall, Baechle said. The snow tubing area stayed closed nearly all winter.
“Usually, (we close because there's) not enough snow at the bottom or something like that, that we feel would make it an unsafe condition,” Baechle said. “We just never want to open unless it's safe.”
Boyce Park opened on Jan. 6 and was open for business for 14 days through Jan. 27, although warm temperatures last week forced some closures.
Weltz said Seven Springs saw increased business last year because the resort was able to keep all of its terrain open for the majority of the season.
“While it wasn't the snowiest winter we've ever had, it was a good winter,” Weltz said. “There were a lot of resorts up and down the East Coast that didn't remain open or didn't have a lot of terrain open. Because we were able to make snow in aggressive formats but also strategic formats, we had more terrain open when some resorts weren't open at all.”
That strategic snowmaking included making snow when the slopes were open — something Weltz said Seven Springs usually tries to avoid.
Hidden Valley spokeswoman Laura Argenbright said the resort also saw good business last year because of its snowmaking ability.
The resort offered a number of skiing specials and heavily advertised that it had snow.
Argenbright said skiing and snowboarding visits are up 11 percent this year over last.
“Better weather does help, and we have seen a lot of return business that we earned last year,” she said.
Ski fans hope more snow is coming, even if Punxy Phil predicted an early end to winter.
“I personally just hope (winter) doesn't end too soon,” said Gasparovic, who with his wife, Linda, has skied at least twice this season.
“I enjoy four seasons. It's just something I like about the Pittsburgh area.”
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-8527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Century III new owner seeks to reverse vacancy trend with new theater
- Corrected performance profiles provided for Pennsylvania schools
- Hill District nonprofit’s finances are taking another dive
- Likely $2.3B influx puts PennDOT big-ticket road projects in play
- Natural history museum in the red
- Allegheny County police arrest 29 on drug charges in Pitcairn area
- Newsmaker: Richard L. Byrne
- Food stamp fraud, bloat overshadow debate on farm bill
- Baldwin-Whitehall board hits ‘magical line of dissatisfaction’
- Schmotzer says he got things done in Baldwin-Whitehall job
- North Park Lake Trail to be widened along Ingomar Road