This has been a difficult year for snow resorts around the world, but many have managed to thrive despite difficulties. Ski writer Connie Lawn spoke to a top expert in the world of snow sports. She posed a number of questions to Jennifer Rudolph, the Director of Communications for Colorado Ski Country U.S.A:
What do you do?
Colorado Ski Country U.S.A is the not-for-profit trade association that represents the ski industry in Colorado. We are a membership organization made up of 22 ski resorts from world class destinations to nostalgic mom and pop gems. On behalf of our members, we conduct public policy, marketing and public relations, which is what I oversee. As communications director, I work directly with media, journalists, writers, bloggers, producers -- basically anyone with an audience -- to get the word out about Colorado as the top ski destination. Working with such a diverse membership has its rewards and challenges. It's rewarding because there is always a fit for any query, but it can be challenging in that different resorts have different needs.
What are the highlights of this difficult year?
Being a weather dependent industry, we're bound to have dry years such as the one we are just finishing. Not every season can be a record season. We've had tough years in the past and we'll have more in the future, but what's important to remember is that Colorado is favorably positioned for these unpredictable seasons. Our resorts are at higher elevations, which keeps the snow conditions in good shape because of the cold, dry air; it allows us to make snow earlier in the year and lay down a good base for the natural snowfall; and our resorts have the industry's top groomers and slope maintenance crews working to keep the runs in the best shape possible. So given all that, despite Mother Nature's fickle behavior, all our resorts opened, most of them got to open 100 percent of their terrain, the important holiday period was busy with guests who had plenty to do along with skiing, a couple of our resorts actually broke records in terms of snowfall and visitation numbers.
Do you have any different plans for next year (any special promotions)?
At this point in the season, we don't have specific plans for special promotions for next year, but more than ever getting the word out about snow will be paramount. Even if we have an average year next year it will be better than the one we just finished.
Have all the resorts survived?
None of our resorts closed more than a week early and only seven had to do that. If it's one thing that our resort operators know, it's that to be in this industry, you have to be an optimistic. So while we are putting this season to bed, we're already thinking about next year and looking at the long-term forecast and planning. We'll put our skis away, but not for long.
Anything you want to add personally or professionally?
Next year is Colorado Ski Country's 50th anniversary. We've weathered many storms through our 50 years and will get through this one too.
Sometimes it's about more than snow. It's about being outside, on top of a mountain, breathing in the fresh air, soaking up the sun and looking at views usually reserved for the birds. It's not always about the powder day, but about spending a day with friends and family, meeting new people on the chairlift, gathering at the end of the day for après drinks, story sharing and real socializing (not the digital kind). I look back on my season and I skied more than 30 days, at 10 different resorts. My five-year-old started using poles, (which she is so excited about) my eight-year-old skied his first double black, I coordinated a ski weekend with four other families and we had 20 people from age 17 months to 43 years, all of us skied. You can't do anything about the weather, and life is too short to worry about it.