Colorado ski officials worried about winter bookings

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ASPEN, Colo. | Colorado resorts are worried about the upcoming ski season because of concerns over weather forecasts and international issues, but some of them are not waiting for Mother Nature.

Loveland Ski Area and Keystone Resort have already turned on their snow guns for the 2015-16 winter season.

“It has been a long couple weeks waiting for the temperatures to cooperate,” said Rob Goodell, director of business operations. “Our crew has been on standby monitoring the weather waiting for the right time to get started and was ready to kick things off last night when the cold temperatures arrived.”

Last year, Loveland opened on Nov. 1, losing its race to open with friendly rival Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, which opened Oct. 17 in 2014. Keystone Resort also started snowmaking ahead of the ski area’s opening day scheduled for Nov. 6. Copper Mountain Resort also plans to open Nov. 6.

However, some resorts are still worried about the coming season.

A bad to average snow year in 2014-15, questions about the El Nino weather forecasts and a strong American dollar are all factoring into a slower booking pace for this winter. Forecasters say the Pacific weather pattern known as El Nino usually brings above-average snowfall to southwest Colorado, but has irregular impacts farther north.

Stay Aspen Snowmass President Bill Tomcich said with the strong American dollar, some winter destination guests, Aspen’s best customers, are facing a poor exchange rate, including Brazil and Australia, two of Aspen’s top international markets.

Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle said international business will be a challenge this year due to the dollar’s strength and resorts are counting on domestic customers to fill the gap.

Canada is touting its low exchange rate, and some other resorts are significantly dropping their rates in order to buy occupancy, the Aspen Times reported (http://tinyurl.com/pag99dn ).

Information from: The Aspen Times, http://www.aspentimes.com/