Good snowfall blesses resorts

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Saturday, March 01, 2008

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STATEWIDE Better-than-average snowfall covered Oregon ski resorts this winter, creating a deep base that bodes well for spring runs.

Through January, Mt. Bachelor tied its highest snowfall in nearly a decade. In mid-February, estimates put the Mt. Hood Meadows snowpack at 15% to 20% deeper than average; it was 35% deeper at Timberline. Deeper snowpack makes for better conditions in the off-peak spring season, and resort officials are hopeful that will drive visitor traffic and prolong operations — possibly into May and even June at Meadows.

By mid-February, attendance there was near levels for the same time in 2006, when the resort set its season record of more than 500,000 visits. Timberline had no attendance numbers but reported season pass sales were up 51% to date. Lodging revenue, retail sales, and food and beverage sales were also up from the previous season. Mt. Bachelor spokeswoman Frankie Labbé would not release specific numbers but says she anticipates attendance will be down slightly for the year. The resort sold fewer passes this season, but a price increase maintained revenue levels.

Scott Kaden, president of the Pacific Northwest Ski Areas Association, says attendance at resorts around the state was strong through mid-February, despite a late start to the season and recent highway closures that impeded traffic in some areas.              

JAMIE HARTFORD


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