The first week of winter break for U.S. middle school and high school students begins this week in many states, and snow packs are much improved over last year’s usual spell.
That means when many families pack their bags and head out for ski and snowboard season, many ski resorts around the country will welcome them with more than they typically would at this time of year. “The mountains across the country are turning white much earlier in the season than they ever have in the past,” said Andrea Simpkins, director of media relations for the National Ski Areas Association. “This is a great time for families to go skiing and for schools to plan their field trips for the students.”
Ms. Simpkins said the early start to winter has started to send a positive message among skiers. “People are now more confident in their ability to do something outdoors because it’s gone before in such a short amount of time,” she said. “It’s created a bit of momentum around making a regular activity one that everyone can do.”
Ms. Simpkins said the snow in places like Taos, N.M., and Utah’s Park City has been as much as 40 inches deep in spots. But each of the ski areas she talked to report unusually warm temperatures, which have hurt early-season conditions and reduced the amounts of powder on the slopes.
Those warm days have left some resorts with blanketing flurries rather than raking them with powder. Those conditions can be dangerous for young skiers who are risking frostbite or hypothermia, and can easily mean a missed run for some.
But although there are still ups and downs, one thing seems certain: “People are dying less on the slopes,” said Ms. Simpkins. “People are not just going skiing any more, they’re going for a family bonding experience.”
Below, some skiing news and fun facts from around the country.