Winter sports has become a hot topic the past couple of years. As temperatures rise and drought continues in California, the snow has declined. I heard a recent interview done with Andy Wirth on Press Play with Madaline Brand. She asks, “How Will the Drought Affect California Ski Resorts?” Hopefully, Andy has the answers.
Andy Wirth is the President of Squaw Valley Ski Corporation and the Cheif Executive Officer of Alpine Meadows of Tahoe, INC. He has been on the sales and marketing team of IntraWest ULC and Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation. He has over 24 years of Marketing experience in the ski resort industry. He graduated with a B.S. at Colorado State University and attended Edinburgh University in Scotland.
According to Andy Wirth, the biggest problem is the “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge”. Because of the Ridge, a lot of low-pressure systems that bring in the snow was lost last year. This doesn’t mean that the entire mountain ridge is clean of snow. The ski resort business is still going strong. “Well you got 6 thousand acres,” says Andy, “So if we only have 4 thousand acres for skiing, you’re still going to have a very very good time.”
Some other methods of dealing with less snow are making and managing snow efficiently. Andy mentions using scientific methods to keep snow on the ground once made. He’s also enlisted different machines for transporting snow already on the ground.
With El Niño coming, the resilient ridge will now act as a way to hold the cold temperatures in. Climatologists from Colorado State University see a much better winter for ski resorts this year than the last four. This means a longer season and more snow cover this upcoming season.
Lastly, the interview moves on to the impact climate change has had on ski resorts. “We see ourselves as resource managers…We take managing this natural resource very seriously” Andy Wirth states. Ski resorts are working towards fighting the rising carbon emissions by eliminating it in their own companies. They work to reduce carbon in their buildings and operations as well as in any of their imports. The ski industry is resilient after all. Andy Wirth insists that despite the weather, the capital margin for ski resorts is still high.
Squaw Valley Ski Holdings looks to open their season the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.