December 3rd, 2018 — Snowfall at New Mexico ski resorts has already outpaced last year, making industry leaders optimistic as resorts begin to open for the 2018-2019 season.
Last year was a punishing one for New Mexico ski resorts. A drier than average snow season left many resorts with far lower visits, and therefore revenue, for the season.
Ski Santa Fe has already received 85 percent of its 2017 season snowfall total. The resort opened on Thanksgiving Day as planned this season. Last year, the opening was pushed to mid-December because of lack of snow.
Candy DeJoia, spokeswoman for Ski Santa Fe, saw a familiar enthusiasm return when the resort opened this season.
“It’s like they have this pent-up energy for playing in the snow, and because we didn’t have any snow last year over Thanksgiving, some came, some didn’t,” DeJoia said. “This year, when we had snow, it was like the energy they had from last year spewed forth and we had a wonderful opening weekend.”
The average snowfall across New Mexico ski resorts in 2017 was 54.9 inches, which was about 80 inches less than the five-year average. With fewer trails to ride and less snow, skier visits were down 36 percent from the five-year average statewide.
At Taos Ski Valley, the season opened three times stronger than last year.
“This is the best start to a ski season that we’ve had in a while,” said Dash Hegeman, marketing manager at Taos Ski Valley. “On opening weekend, we had a more than 300 percent increase in visitations versus last year.”
Angel Fire Resort hasn’t even opened, and it’s already received 60 percent of the snow it did in all of last year.
“We’re looking great with strong preseason pass sales. Early-season storms are definitely helping people think and plan for ski trips earlier this year,” said Krysty Ronchetti, PR director for Angel Fire Resort.
The next New Mexico resorts to open are Ski Apache in Alto on Dec. 7, followed by Angel Fire Resort on Dec. 14, Pajarito Mountain in Los Alamos on Dec. 21 and Sandia Peak on Dec. 22. Taos, Santa Fe, Red River and Sipapu, which is in Vadito, all opened their resorts in November.
The ski industry is a large contributor to the tourism economy in New Mexico. Last year’s weak season saw an economic impact of $298.1 million, $123.9 million less than the previous year, according to Ski New Mexico. This set a new 10-year low for the New Mexico ski industry.
“Our outlook for this season is much brighter than last year at this time,” said DeJoia of Ski Santa Fe. “We expect to continue to get snowstorms, and for the enthusiasm that started the season to carry on through April.”