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Ski resorts get a gift of snow, and spike in business

Skiers and snowboarders hit the slopes as storms drop as much snow on the mountains in a couple of days as normally falls in an entire month.

December 24, 2010|By Shan Li, Los Angeles Times

Besides heavy flooding and mudslides, the recent storms that soaked and rattled Southern California also brought a gift for some businesses — snow. Lots of it.

That means skiers and snowboarders are hitting the slopes again.

And ski resorts are rejoicing.

"We've seen a big lift in traffic after the storms hit," said Chris Riddle, marketing manager of the Big Bear Mountain Resorts, which has seen attendance surge since the storms hit. "It's been great for business."

Stormy weather reminds people that it's the time of year to strap on a snowboard or a pair of skis, Riddle said.

"We also don't have to make as much snow ourselves," he said. "The sky does it for us."

Peaks around the area saw record-setting levels of snow. Mountain High in the San Gabriel Mountains saw 1 to 2 feet of new snow.

"This was an extremely rare event," said Carlos Molina, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "A lot of locations received more new snow in two days than they usually get in the entire month of December."

At some ski resorts, that translates into some record-breaking of their own.

At Mountain High, tickets were completely sold out Thursday for the first time this season.

"That basically means we have no more room in the parking lot," said marketing manager Kim Hermon. "For safety reasons, we have to sell out."

Area peaks are not the only ones benefitting from heavy snow. Mammoth Mountain in Northern California has stacked up about 22 feet of new snow in December.

This week, Mammoth Mountain ski resort saw the most number of bookings in a single day ever, said Ashley Smith, the resort's communications coordinator.

People began hitting the slopes in earnest starting in November, the beginning of the snowiest season there since 1969, Smith said.

"And it's fluffy snow, so beginners love it because when they fall, it doesn't hurt," she said. "Everything is just covered in it."

There was so much snow that one of the 28 chair lifts at Mammoth was actually buried, but crews have since dug it out.

shan.li@latimes.com

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