Minnesota ski areas overcoming warm winter

Minnesota ski areas overcoming warm winter

Minnesota ski areas overcoming warm winter

This weekend’s warmer forecast is something ski areas around the state are used to this season.

It’s taken a lot of hard work to be able to stay open this winter, and places like Buck Hill are ready to welcome people for the last few weeks of the season.

“They’re learning, they’re still having fun so all good,” said Jon Coronel, who was with his kids at Buck Hill on Friday.

“It’s not the perfect winter but we tried to make the most out of it,” he added.

Making the most of winter has been the theme for ski areas across the state.

“Very fortunate for what we have on the hill,” said Nate Birr, the chief operating officer at Buck Hill.

Birr gives all the credit to what he calls Buck Hill’s “snow farmers.”

“We were able to produce a lot of snow in a short period of time,” Birr said.

All things considered, he’s thrilled with the turnout.

“I feel very happy with where our visitation is at. The last time I looked, we were down 8% year-over-year but I’ve heard other resorts around the region and across the country are down 20 to 40%,” Birr said.

“Mother Nature has not provided us a typical Minnesota winter,” said Bo Bigelow, the executive director of the Minnesota Ski Areas Association, a nonprofit representing the 19 alpine ski areas across the state.

Bigelow knows how much work goes into keeping these places open, given the circumstances.

“Because of the investment in snow-making that every Minnesota ski area has made over the last decade, we’ve really been able to provide a consistent opportunity for people to get out on the slopes,” Bigelow said.

There is one thing this warm winter has welcomed.

“We have seen a lot of first-time visits,” Bigelow said. “When the temperatures are a little bit warmer, more people want to get outside in the wintertime.”

Coronel understands that while these conditions aren’t ideal, the soft snow is more manageable for his son, making it a winter to remember.

“For the smallest one, since it’s his first year, I think it kind of helps with how he’s learning now,” Coronel said.

Buck Hill moves to spring hours on Monday. For a full list of which ski areas are open, click here.

According to a study, U.S. ski areas lost $5 billion over a recent two-decade span because of climate change, and it says the sport could be impacted further in the years to come. To read that study, click here.