Breck, Copper say good-bye for season
For more on skiing and snowboarding, visit http://www.summitdaily.com/skiSUMMIT COUNTY – Skiing and snowboarding at Breckenridge and Copper Mountain ended Sunday with a flurry of sun-dappled festivities, as thousands of snow sliders turned out for one last fling, following a winter of decent snowfall and consistently good conditions.Traditional closing weekend events ranged from the grueling multisport Imperial Challenge to the just plain zany Breckenridge Bump Buffet and Copper’s celebrated Eenie-Weenie Bikini contest.Of course die-hards still have Loveland and A-Basin, where spring conditions prevail. The Legend was reporting a 56-inch base Sunday. On the highest, steepest north-facing slopes, grippy late-winter powder lingers, with generous, spongy blankets of corn further down the mountain. Some snow is in the outlook for early to mid-week, possibly offering classic spring powder days, as well as the upcoming Enduro on Wednesday, which challenges contestants to 50, 60 or more laps on the terrain off the 1,200 vertical-foot Pallavicini Chair. A-Basin touts this time of year as the “bonus season,” with plenty of concerts, ski and snowboard contests and a brewpub festival at the end of May.Closing day at Breckenridge and Copper marked a busy end to an action-packed and condensed spring season that surrounded an early Easter holiday. By some accounts, skier and visitor numbers during the last few weeks were solid, and at least some merchants report strong sales. Other business owners say the season was somewhat erratic – the most so in more than 30 years of retail experience, according Rick Bly, owner of a gift shop on Main Street in Breckenridge. Bly said several merchants he keeps in touch with informally reported similar “ho-hum” results for the season. On the other hand, Bly said some local bankers he has talked with reported gangbuster business. Several lodge owners also said during the weekend that the season was fairly strong.With great spring skiing in the high bowls of Breckenridge, some local skiers and boarders bemoan the trend toward earlier closing dates, but Bly said that, business-wise, the last few weeks of the season have always been slow, even when Breckenridge used to stay open until late April.”I think there’s just a kind of cosmic clock in people that switches in mid-April. When it gets warm, they just start thinking about biking and swimming,” he said.Signs of a rebounding economy spurred high hopes at the beginning of the season, especially in the tourism and travel sector, one of the hardest hit by 9/11 and the subsequent era of international uncertainty. Resorts, particularly Colorado’s smaller “Gems,” reported strong early season numbers, followed by a mid-season update that showed a slight fall-off. But tourism officials and resort executives said they were pleased with the strengthening international destination segment, aided by an advantageous exchange rate for many visitors from overseas. Decent season-long snowfall and continued strong sales of value-passes to Front Range skiers also contributed to what will likely end up a strong season in terms of skier days.Equally, if not more important to Summit County’s economy, the real estate market showed real strength, according to local real estate agents, with several successful resort-based pre-sales events marking a busy winter.Countywide, snowfall and precipitation were closer to average than in most recent seasons, although water officials said the snowpack in early April was still lagging at about 80 percent of normal.And April, usually one of the wettest months, has started dry, with only 50 percent of average snowfall to-date, according to Bly. But one or two wet storms in the second half of the month could quickly bring that total up, he added.For the hydrological year (beginning Oct. 1), snowfall at Bly’s National Weather Service observation site in Breckenridge tallies 94 percent of normal so far, while precipitation (the water content in the snow) is at 78 percent, Bly said.Bob Berwyn can be reached at (970) 668-3998ext. 228, or at email@example.com.
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