The Old Snowmobiles, Skiing and the Flu

I am sure the long, hot winter had more than its share of impacts. With all of the snow I love and need, weather and ice means snowmobiles, and as a snowmobile culture it…

The Old Snowmobiles, Skiing and the Flu

I am sure the long, hot winter had more than its share of impacts. With all of the snow I love and need, weather and ice means snowmobiles, and as a snowmobile culture it can be a very formative life experience. But if you are in the ski industry, a lot goes on inside the machinery too.

So, with the upcoming winter ski season looming around the corner and an immense amount of snowmaking and development in progress across the nation, it’s no surprise that there’s been a lot of talk about the flu.

Earlier this year, an outbreak of what is widely believed to be the flu swept through a few ski resorts, most notably Copper Mountain, Ski Cooper, and Snowbird in Utah. The respective factors have been the same as the ones from this summer’s heat wave. The general number of people who seem to get flu is still an unknown but as of yet it’s unclear if there’s a correlation with ski resort-related outbreaks. Both August and September are the most active times of the year in terms of heavy snowmaking in all of the major resorts, so let’s take a look at what you can expect when the slopes open.

Related Image Expand / Contract Yvonne Pieper – Company: Ypolis Future Events Yvonne Pieper – Company: Ypolis Future Events (Ypolis Future Events)

The Weather

Arctic air that persisted into last week has softened considerably but still packs with the potential for one or two cold fronts to move through the area. So, there’s no reason to expect cold weather in the days leading up to and followed by the first day of ski season. Whether we hit it out of the park or not is up to Mother Nature but what we do expect is plenty of great skiing opportunities.

Snowmakers

In the winter, we make an average of 20 million gallons of snow every day, 365 days a year in the United States, across every major ski mountain. Several factors have to align for snow to fall every day. For one, we need to be in the right place at the right time with the right equipment. So, you can expect to find all the popular snowmaking sets right this season. You’ll also likely find more new snowmaking equipment than you may have seen in previous years. Manufacturers are creating new and unique snowmaking sets for lighter, thinner piles, maximum utilization of equipment, and high output levels in extremely compressed situations. Also, new snowmaking sets have both more and less liquid content, which allows for both utilization of older snowmaking equipment and the introduction of modern technology.

Super Resorts

Even if the ski industry doesn’t have a new snowmaking system to brag about this year, there will likely be more than enough snow to operate year-round, snowmaking will not end soon.

In fact, many ski areas have expanded their snowmaking capability over the last two or three years in order to ensure long-term winter conditions, and, on a pure financial standpoint, snowmaking operations can be considerably profitable. Although, part of the reason for this is the shift in the cost structure to construct snowmaking systems. By adding or upgrading more efficient technology, resorts can now convert snow making to cash flow, despite the more expensive initial investment.

Unfortunately, the sticker shock associated with new snowmaking equipment may deter some potential business partners. If the end result is as seamless, efficient, and results in year-round operation of the largest and tallest, snowmaking systems, perhaps they should go down another pricing tier. Another option is when the equipment isn’t profitable and isn’t paying off. However, even with the declining equipment prices and lighter costs, it’s too soon to determine the real numbers of the new equipment. What we do know is that the resorts that are able to gain the flexibility and spend the money to come up with more economical machines should capitalize on this opportunity.

If you’re not putting snowmaking systems on your mountain or not familiar with what makes it special, then please see what happens to you when you’re outside. If it’s cold and there’s powder, great. If it’s dry and the sun is shining, woah! Get out there and enjoy winter and learn more about our most beloved hill.

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