Up And Down Weather

Even with New York’s varying weather tendencies, this season has been a good one for ski resorts in Chautauqua County. So far.

“It’s been a pretty strong start to the season,” said Dash Hegeman, marketing director at the HoliMont Ski Resort in Ellicottville. “We’ve had some great lake effect snowstorms, which have given us some fun powder days out on the slopes. We’ve also had some very cold weather, which has been fantastic for us in terms of our snowmaking capabilities.”

“We opened the day after Thanksgiving – which is pretty early, pretty rare,” said Brad Gravink, director of mountain operations at Peek’n Peak Resort and Spa in Clymer. “We were 100 percent open on Dec. 12, and had great crowds. All the condos and hotel rooms were sold through the two-week holiday period.”

“So far this year, it has been pretty good,” said Jane Eshbaugh, director of marketing for Holiday Valley in Ellicottville. “We were off to an early start. It’s always encouraging. We’ve received quite a bit of natural snow – 87 inches. We’ve been able to make a lot of snow, so that gives us a good base that is very durable.”

Hegeman said skiing and snowboarding in Western New York, and much of the East Coast, wouldn’t exist in its current form if it wasn’t for man-made snow.

“We make snow regardless of the natural snow we get,” Eshbaugh said. “Natural snow is very delicate and fluffy. … The natural snow is really nice because it mixes with the man-made snow to make a soft surface, but you really need man-made snow to create a base for the ski slopes.”

While the bitter cold experienced earlier this week was ideal for snowmaking, it ended up driving away some business.

“The cold weather the past couple of days has probably kept some people away,” said Hegeman. “Unfortunately, we had one group cancel on us (Wednesday) because they were coming from Canada and decided (Tuesday) that they couldn’t risk the drive through Buffalo to get here.”

Eshbaugh said the roads were closed, keeping people away, with Gravink echoing similar sentiments.

Holidays like Christmas, Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Presidents Day keep ski resorts busy, although it largely depends on the weather. Even if a person has never skied or snowboarded before, resorts offer classes to help people learn.

“With the new equipment, the technology they have out now, in an hour and a half you’ll be going up and down the hill with no problem at all,” said Gravink.

Peek’n Peak Resort and Spa can be found on 1405 Old Road in Clymer. Reservations can be made by calling 355-4141 or online at www.pknpk.com. Holiday Valley is on 6557 Holiday Valley Road in Ellicottville. Reservations can be made by calling 699-2345 or online at www.holidayvalley.com. HoliMont Ski Resort can be found on 6921 Route 242 in Ellicottville. Reservations can be made by calling 699-2320. HoliMont’s website is www.holimont.com.