January 5, 2006
Typically in January, Wintergreen is packed with skiers, but not this year.
In fact, a recent report says 2007 is likely to be the hottest year on record for the world, and those hot temps are putting a chill on local ski business.
Wintergreen may have to change its name or its business, thanks to the spring like temperatures making the word "Closed" all too familiar.
Bob Ashton, president of Wintergreen Resort, says right now, only three slopes are open, which is dramatically lower than previous years.
"In a normal year, by mid January, we would have the whole ski area open," Ashton said. "So we are definitely behind this year."
Many ski resorts in the mid-Atlantic region have been forced to close all together. Wintergreen, with its 400 snow guns, hasn't had to shut down completely, but they are still taking a hit financially.
"Our business is definitely slower than it's been and less than what we would like. It's been a slow start to the season," lamented Ashton.
Still a bleak, warm, rainy day hasn't kept the diehard snow fans away, with them getting what they can from the three slopes open out of the 25.
"It's either ski out west, or stay here, at home, in Charlottesville," skier Sam Baer explained. "You take what you can."
Even though the slopes are muddy right now, with temperatures promising to be in the teens next week, Wintergreen officials are optimistic the muddy slopes will soon be a skier's paradise.
"In a week from now, we can make a lot of snow," Ashton stated. "We are able to make the equivalent of 37 feet of snow on a football field in 24 hours. That's a lot of snow."
Wintergreen officials certainly see the glass as half full, only postponing weekend ski events, with hopes Wintergreen Mountain will soon represent the 'winter,' more than the 'green.'