BIG SNOW, BIG BUCKS
ORLEANS COUNTY - Locally, snow sports enthusiasts are rejoicing with the near perfect conditions of packed powder snow. The cold temperatures and snowfall are a huge welcome for many after last year’s lackluster season of little snow coupled with warmer temperatures. The unusually warm weather hit the local economy, especially those who depend on outdoor winter activity seekers for their businesses. The slow tourism for snow sports tends to have a ripple effect on other businesses.Last year may have been the warmest on record for the state. Walt’s Sales and Service in Derby, a snowmobile and all–terrain vehicle retailer and repair shop, had a sluggish winter season, one of the slowest the business has ever experienced. But now business in booming and the owners hope that it continues, said Alta Jenness, co-owner. The snowmobile trails opened on Dec. 15 and Walt’s is busy selling trail passes. However, right now the lakes are not frozen yet, which impacts some parts of the trails.Ski resorts were also hit by the warm winter weather. Jay Peak Resort had a rough year on the trails last year, but they were saved by converting to an all-weather destination. The resort now has a huge indoor water park, ice arena, and much more for any type of winter. Creating businesses for all weather is a key concept for success, according to travel and tourism experts.This year, Jay is starting off with a record breaking season, which began with mountain trails opening Thanksgiving weekend. Over the last seven days, Jay has received 47 inches of snowfall with a season total 115 inches. Seventy three of 78 trails are open with all nine lifts spinning.Jay’s Nordic Center is also open with a variety of beginner, intermediate and expert terrain.Burke Mountain Resort, now part of the Jay Peak Resort experience, is opened and prospering. The resort is using its new snow-making machinery and reporting twice as many visitors as last year. The resort is preparing for future growth with new hotels, restaurants, and the possibility of state of the art indoor tennis courts, among much more.