Wintergreen Skiing

By: Donald Robinson
By: Donald Robinson

Recent rains in the valley have brought good fortune to local skiers, and saved a small fortune for an area county. Wintergreen Resort kicked off its ski season yesterday. It's the first time in years skiers have gotten the chance to ski there in November.

"It's been about three or four years since we have been out here in November, but it looks like it's finally going to be a good year," says Shawn Smeallie of Alexandria.

Smeallie and his family are here on one of several visits they will make to Wintergreen this winter. He also said he had concerns in the summer.

"It was pretty touch and go," said Smeallie, "We thought that after this summer it was going to be very bleak winter, but we had a lot of good rain this fall."

Before the rains came, the drought had depleted 50 percent of Wintergreen's water reserves. Then Mother Nature brought some relief.

"Once it started to rain in early October, the reservoirs filled right back up and we were good to go," says John Kirchner the Director of Ski Operations.

And despite Mother Nature not blessing the resort with snow, officials have their own way of getting by.

"We supply the water and just pump the water drops into the air," says Kirchner. "It then freezes as snow and comes back down to the ground."

And as vital as it is for Wintergreen's bottom line for skiers to visit, it's even more vital for the economy on Nelson County.

"Tourism is the largest industry in Nelson County, said Kirchner. Wintergreen is the largest employer and operation in their tourism industry."

Between December and March Wintergreen will see more than one 175,000 visitors. It is important that those visitors become repeat customers during the other eight months of the year.

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