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Record snow great for local ski business

January 7, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Resort and business owners in the local mountains are enjoying one of the best seasons in decades after a big set of storms. Fresh, new snow is luring droves of visitors to the mountains, but are they spending?The story up here is really one of contrast. A month and a half ago at the ski resort, they were wondering if they would ever get any snow. Down at the village it was more like a ghost town, but things are much different now thanks to the white stuff, and there is a lot of it.

What a difference a few major snowstorms can make. In Big Bear Lake, Snow Summit ski resort is packed. One-hundred percent of mountain runs are open, and happy skiers and snowboarders are everywhere.

"It's absolutely beautiful up here," said San Diego resident Lorie Durso. "It's pretty nice because it's not too cold."

And who would have thought it, when just a month ago the lack of snow, coupled with the bad economy, was starting to spell doom and gloom for mountain resorts.

"It was really looking bleak and it was looking it was going to be a very down Christmas holiday period," said Chris Riddle, Big Bear Mountain Resorts marketing director.

Riddle said all it took was one storm and in two days a dismal season turned into the start of what could become a record season.

"The week between Christmas and New Year's was actually our biggest week ever here at Snow Summit," said Riddle. "So taking the economy into account, I think snow changes everything. And when skiers and snowboarders see snow on the mountains, that's when they come up."

And it's the same thing in the village, many shops were closed a month or two ago, but Wednesday, it was difficult to find a parking spot due to the crowds.

"My gosh, over the weekend I had to park all the way out in the middle of the parking lot and hike to work," said Tina Ginter, Leather Depot cashier.

Ginter says it's not all good news the snow has brought up a bunch of people, but they're just nor spending like they have in years past.

"I still think people are hanging on to their money," said Ginter. "They're not sure what's happening, and they're just nor spending still.

But for the most part people up here are thrilled. The weather's nice and it's busy, and it should stay that way for quite some time.

They've seen the best snowstorms of the past 35 years this season, and in fact the base is so deep that they expect that even with a normal winter they will be able to stay open through April, great news for the more than 2,000 people that have winter jobs there.


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