Eaglecrest Ski Area General Manager Matt Lillard said that strong season pass sales have helped bolster skier attendance in spite of lackluster snow conditions.
Eaglecrest set a new record in 2012 for season pass sales at $816,000. This bodes well for a strong season even in challenging snow conditions, Lillard said.
“The snow weather has not been as cooperative as it can be,” Lillard said.
Lillard gave a report to the Eaglecrest board of directors Thursday.
This season, only about half the number of skiers came out and bought day passes than in the 2011 season.
Even though the ski area spent $10,000 on making snow early this season, Eaglecrest’s expenses are below 2011 levels.
Lillard called the snow making a “worthwhile effort” and said the area might fire the machine up again to assure proper snow through the Slush Cup.
Sales to date total $1.12 million. $79,000 below 2011 — an outstanding year — Lillard said.
Lillard said snow conditions are to blame.
“We haven’t had the huge powder days we had last December,” Lillard said.
The snowfall is average this year, Lillard said, but the temperatures have remained lower.
Ski race season starts at the end of January and the Juneau Ski Club starts its Thursday night races on Jan. 17. Lillard said he hopes for more snow before then. Currently, when Eaglecrest staff try to install gates, they hit the ground.
Lillard pointed out a couple of notable successes.
First time skiers are strapping on skis and snowboards and booking lessons at the local ski hill. The Porcupine lift has allowed for larger numbers of beginner skiers, Lillard said, to pick up the sport. He said on a Saturday in late December, more than 70 first time skiers snowplowed their first slope.
Skiers are also visiting from towns around Southeast Alaska.
A large contingent of Sitka skiers came to Eaglecrest over Christmas week and recently a few families from Petersburg hit Juneau’s slopes.
• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.