Season ends on various notes for resorts |

Season ends on various notes for resorts

Jason Kelley/Sierra SunFunitel cars sit empty at Squaw Valley USA on Tuesday.

Tahoe skiers and riders recall the saturated New Year holiday because not much took place on the slopes.

Gray days that brought more than 8 inches of rain, wet snow above 7,500 feet, mudslides, flooding and extended power outages also brought fiscal blues to local ski resorts. Many were not able to make up the lost business.

“It was a tough year for us and for a number of other resorts,” said Greg Murtha, director of marketing at Sugar Bowl Ski Resort. “Honestly, when you lose Christmas ” it typically represents 20 percent of resorts’ annual sales.”

While Lake Tahoe resorts failed to reach typical holiday skier numbers in December and January, some reported that other areas of mountain operations filled the void.

“Something that set Squaw apart from other resorts is that we have so many other departments that prospered at that time. Retail was through the roof … Squaw Kids did great through the year; the families were still here,” said Savannah Cowley, spokeswoman for Squaw Valley USA. “People took advantage of the late season because there wasn’t much of an early season.”

But winter beefed up after January, delivering to the northern Sierra well over 500 inches of snow at higher elevations. Sugar Bowl kept operations open until April 30 and Squaw Valley closed its doors last weekend.

The strong finish to the season helped Northstar-at-Tahoe recover lost revenue, making it the resort’s second best season to date, said Nicole Klay, Northstar’s communications supervisor.

“For 2005-06 Northstar Resort was up 26 percent for total skier visits during the months of March and April versus the 2004-05 winter season,” Klay said.

If the month of June cooperates with cool weather, Squaw Valley may reopen for the Fourth of July, according to Cowley.

“One good thing is that you get to start fresh every year,” Murtha said, “And we’re anxiously looking forward to next year.”

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