IVGID GM’s Corner: We’re off and running at Diamond Peak | SierraSun.com

IVGID GM’s Corner: We’re off and running at Diamond Peak

Steve Pinkerton
Special to the Bonanza
Steve Pinkerton

Here at IVGID, there is no slowing down during the Holiday Season. The last two weeks of December generate about one-third of our projected $7 million in annual revenue for Diamond Peak.

Thus, having snow coverage by mid-December is critical for our ski area. That is why Diamond Peak was one of the first ski areas in the region to purchase snowmaking equipment many years ago.

However, just having the equipment doesn’t guarantee a fully operational mountain.

Making snow requires cold temperatures and relatively low humidity, both of which have been in short supply this winter.

In fact, since November 18th, we’ve had overnight low temperatures that have been above the average low temperature every single night — that is 35 days in a row, as of press time.

That has translated into around half as many evenings where we can make snow. I have to give kudos to our staff for getting the mountain open from top to bottom by this past weekend.

This is the second time in three years that we’ve opened on December 20 — which is the latest we’ve opened in the 23 years for which I have daily attendance figures. This is the ski area’s 49th year of operation.

While we opened a week later than average, the attendance for our first three days has been stellar. We’ve had nearly 4,500 skier visits, which is the most we’ve had in our opening three days in the past 23 years.

Part of that is certainly due to our season ticket sales, which are up 22 percent this year. That number is particularly impressive when you consider that Vail Resorts (Heavenly, Kirkwood, Northstar) reported a drop in season ticket sales this year.

We also continue to have the best-priced lift tickets in the region — and our local resident price is reminiscent of what prices were for the general public in the 1970s!

Our presence on social media also continues to grow. Our Facebook followers are up by 27 percent, and we now have over 4,200 followers on Twitter.

As all of you know, our fellow Tahoe ski areas all had late openings this year as well. Climate risk has become a big issue in the ski industry, particularly in our region.

The New York Times published an article last month entitled: “As Snow Fades, California Ski Resorts are Left High and Very Dry.”

It notes that all of the major ski areas are looking more to snowmaking in the future as we see greater variance in snowfall.

It is also why ski areas are looking to diversify their revenue base by considering more summer use.

Speaking of summer use, the Diamond Peak Master Plan Steering Committee will be holding its first meeting on January 12 from 3-5 p.m. in our board room at 893 Southwood Blvd.

Additional meetings are currently scheduled at the same time and location for January 26, February 9, February 23, March 9, March 23, April 13 and April 27.

Meetings are open to the public and the webcasts will be available for viewing on our website.

As I noted in a previous column, the committee will conduct a very detailed, deliberate analysis of every aspect of the proposed Master Plan.

Experts will be tasked with looking at every possible environmental impact of the project, including traffic, parking, life safety, habitat and noise.

An independent evaluation will be done of the financial and market viability of the proposed uses. In other words, nothing new is going to happen at Diamond Peak until we do an exhaustive, thorough analysis that has been relentlessly presented to the community.

And I will not be bringing anything back to the Board of Trustees that is not in the best interest of the citizens of Incline Village.

Members of the Steering Committee include: Bill Echols, Liz Harrell, Brian Hrindo, Jess Jameson, Andrew Jaine, Shane Johnson, Judith Miller, Al O’Connor, Robert Olmer, Steve Pulver, Eric Severance, Bruce Simonian and Charlie White.

The membership includes community members with background in various areas of expertise such as finance, accounting, planning, ski operations and youth activities.

It also includes property owners who live adjacent to Diamond Peak, including the presidents of the two nearby homeowner associations.

I encourage all of you to attend or electronically view the meetings. There will be a lot of good information shared, and it is critical that we get feedback from everyone — we all have a stake in the future of our ski area.

“GM’s Corner” is a twice-monthly column from Incline Village General Improvement Distinct General Manager Steve Pinkerton, who will discuss issues and offer updates regarding various district matters.