BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. (CBS4) – While many ski resorts opened early this year, there hasn’t been a ton of snow. Only a few runs are open at most places, but there has been a silver lining for the resorts.
The long Thanksgiving weekend kicked off the bulk of ski season in the Rockies. But for people like Tony Crider, who was at Copper Mountain Thursday all the way from Alabama, he noticed a difference this year.
“A little warmer so far, probably you can tell there’s not much snow,” Crider said.
Last Thanksgiving Copper had 65 trails open. This year were are a dozen — a steep decline, which is affecting every resorts across the state.
There are two mountains that are completely closed this year but were open last Thanksgiving — Monarch and Ski Cooper. Both said they tried to open, but there’s just not enough snow yet.
Fewer open runs didn’t turn skiers and boarders away from long lines at Breckenridge.
“I came last year on Thanksgiving and it was dead,” snowboarder David Wells said.
Resorts will admit that last year was just a total anomaly. When looking at Thanksgiving weekend across the board, resorts had about two more feet of snow than they do this year. So when looking at the decrease in terrain a lot of resorts say what’s open now is very close to an average year for a Thanksgiving weekend.
“It’s not so bad up on the hill, but when you get down to the lines it’s a little bit longer wait than you like. But it’s not bad; I hear it was worse earlier in the week,” Wells said.
While the ski hill looks more like an ant hill, some of them are leaving the lines early and headed to town. A couple store owners say they’ve seen an increase in the afternoon with skiers coming off the hill and down to Main Street and shopping at places like Shirt and Ernies.
“Morning’s have been pretty slow mostly. I think people are up skiing and in the afternoon they come shopping when they’re done skiing,” Shirt and Ernies manager Shannon Buhler said.
Buhler says sales are up this year compared to last and it’s not even the peak of shopping season yet.
While the downhill resorts are hanging in there despite the light snowpack, the niche industry of cross country skiing is struggling. Many Nordic centers remain closed because there’s just not enough snow.