By Nathan Ham
It’s the first day of winter, but the ski resorts have been enjoying winter conditions for almost the past month as natural snowfall and snow guns have covered the slopes just in time for the Christmas rush.
Big crowds have already found their way to the High Country and have given a major economic boost to the area in a time of uncertainty.
“Business is good and people want to be out here. Conditions are great and we’re certainly doing pretty good,” said Gunther Jochl, President of Sugar Mountain Resort.
As is traditionally the case in the winter months, the success of restaurants and shops in the area often depends on the ski resorts having a great winter season. So far this year, everyone seems to be pleased with the turnout heading into Christmas and New Year’s Day.
“We have been incredibly busy thus far and we anticipate a strong crowd over the holidays,” said Talia Freeman, Beech Mountain Resort’s Director of Marketing. “Conditions are great right now and we continue to receive natural snowfall. The snowmaking system is impressive and we are able to produce more snow than ever before. We are working to open more terrain as quickly as possible.”
Over at Appalachian Ski Mtn., owner Brad Moretz says that there’s no better time to hit the slopes than over the holidays and he hopes that all of their terrain might be open by Sunday or Monday.
“We’ve got the great majority of our slopes open, all of our lifts are open, and we’ve got some fantastic snowmaking weather coming up,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a great holiday period, I think people are excited to get outside and have some fun. We have had an exceptional month of winter weather and snowmaking, people are going to come and see some of the best conditions that they will find.”
The area resorts continue to adopt the Ski Well Be Well measures to keep people as safe as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“People understand we have to be safe. With our mask requirements and making online reservations, people have been appreciative of all of our efforts. We are trying to do our best” said Moretz.
Freeman says that the health and safety practices at Beech Mountain are going well.
“We are working hard to keep everyone safe and healthy. We are getting a lot of visitors from areas that do not have a mask mandate, but customers are still compliant and grateful to be here. We are providing masks to customers that need them,” Freeman said.
“We have some people that are not very happy with it, but in general, people are very cooperative and very good with it,” Jochl said about the folks visiting Sugar Mountain.