Editorial: On Vail Mountain’s delayed opening: Sometimes, Mother Nature just says ‘no’
November 14, 2017
There's a long-running half-joke in resort country that skiing is too big a business to depend on Mother Nature. Well, sometimes Mom says "no" anyway.
That's what happened this week when Vail Resorts announced it would delay Vail Mountain's Opening Day by a week. The new opening date is Thursday, Nov. 23. That's Thanksgiving, and let's hope we're giving thanks by then for some cold, snowy weather.
The Opening Day delay has put an early pothole into this winter season. Business plans have to be adjusted, as do work schedules. A number of front-line employees won't get the paid hours they're expecting, and that can be tough.
On the other hand, is anyone really surprised? As of Tuesday, Nov. 14, it had been a full week since any measurable snow has fallen at Vail. The North Trail is mountain bike-able. As good as Vail's mountain operations team is — and it's very good — there was little chance of opening on Friday, Nov. 17.
During the winter of 2011-2012 — the lowest snow season on record, the mountain operations people worked tirelessly to spread the scant snowfall around the runs, with pretty good results. But unlike this week, there was at least a bit of natural snow to move around.
Let's hope we don't get to that point in this season. No one wants to repeat the drought year, when the Vail Mountain snow measurement site was melted off by late March. The area's history points to a change in weather patterns, and predictive models are encouraging, if not wildly so.
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In short, this too, shall pass. Snow is likely to come this winter in some level of abundance. When it does, the lifts will hum, the economy will purr and powder-coated grins will once again spread across Happy Valley.
Meanwhile, we wait patiently for the day Mother Nature smiles, nods and says, "Now you may play."
The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Krista Driscoll and Business Editor Scott Miller.