After bad winters, Tahoe cross-country area seeks $80K in donations
TAHOE CITY, Calif. — After four straight dismal winters, volunteers with Tahoe City’s heralded cross-country ski area are asking for the community’s help to open its doors next season without incurring debt.
Earlier this month, Tahoe City-based Tahoe Cross Country launched an $80,000 fundraising campaign.
The winter of 2010-11 was the last good ski season for Tahoe XC — and all the Sierra Nevada, for that matter — with 150 days of operation.
In contrast, this past winter, the ski area was officially open for four days, due to lack of snow, said Rafe Miller, a board member with the Tahoe Cross Country Ski Education Association.
“After a couple of these really minimal years, season pass-holder numbers have plummeted, understandably,” Miller said. “People aren’t going to buy passes if they’re thinking they won’t have the opportunity, so that revenue source is greatly diminished.”
Season passes, along with daily ticket sales and ski rentals, are Tahoe XC’s major source of revenue under normal conditions, said board president Jim Robins.
To help cover fixed costs such as salaries, insurance and trail fees, the ski area has been dipping into reserve funds the past two years. Reserves are now “pretty much depleted,” he said.
“We decided to go out to the community and ask for their support, so when it snows next year, we’ll be able to open the doors with business as usual, providing good grooming and services,” Robins said.
Each of the 11 unpaid, volunteer board members has made a personal contribution of at least $1,000.
Should $80,000 not be raised (the fundraising effort has no deadline), other potential revenue sources such as loans will be examined, Robins said.
Still, a lack of snow — and not funding — could prevent Tahoe XC from opening to the public next winter, he said.
“Being in the ski business is difficult at best, so we’re trying to be optimistic,” Robins said. “We’ve seen the trends of weather over the years. We don’t know what will happen next year, but we’re planning to open.”
The nonprofit Tahoe Cross Country Ski Education Association’s mission is to promote the sport of cross-country skiing through educational activities for children and adults.
In 1999, the Tahoe XC board entered a concession agreement with the Tahoe City Public Utility District to operate the ski area.
Over the past decade, Tahoe XC has established itself as one of the top ski areas in the United States, according to its website.