Sunday February 10, 2013

PITTSFIELD -- After more than a foot of snow stormed through Berkshire County, ski area employees got up, dug out and rushed to work expecting some snow-frenzied skiers to be in just as much of a hurry to hit the slopes.

In some cases, they were right. At both Bousquet Ski Area in Pittsfield and Jiminy Peak in Hancock, skiers and snowboarders were waiting in line for the lifts to start up.

"There were a lot of people waiting for the lifts to start when we opened at 8:30 this morning," Katie Fogel, spokeswoman for Jiminy Peak, said Saturday.

At Bosquet, it was much the same.

"As soon as we cleared the snow from the parking lot and sidewalks, people were waiting at the lifts when we opened at 10 a.

Snow tubers prepare to slide Saturday at Bousquet Ski Area in Pittsfield. The travel ban didn’t affect Bousquet and Jiminy Peak as much as other
Snow tubers prepare to slide Saturday at Bousquet Ski Area in Pittsfield. The travel ban didn’t affect Bousquet and Jiminy Peak as much as other areas. (Scott Stafford / Berkshire Eagle Staff)
m.," said Sherry Roberts, business manager at Bousquet.

"Any snowstorm is a good snowstorm," she added. "With all the hype, and the governor declaring a state of emergency, [skiers] were chomping at the bit to get out on the slopes."

But the state of emergency also had a downside. The governor's travel ban -- which wasn't lifted until 1 p.m. Saturday -- caused enough confusion among potential skiers to keep some of them home.

"Snow is always helpful, but the travel ban is killing us," said Matt Sawyer, spokesman for Ski Butternut in Great Barrington. "Business is almost nonexistent today. Skiers would be here, but with the travel bans in Massachusetts and Connecticut, people were not willing to risk a $500 fine."

The storm will help bring skiers out today, though, Sawyer added, noting that it still wouldn't make up for the business lost Saturday.

At Jiminy Peak, the travel ban made for a weird day, said Tyler Fairbank, co-CEO at Jiminy Peak. Because there are about 3,000 out-of-towners staying nearby in time shares and hotels, workers at Jiminy Peak found themselves responsible for the equivalent of a small city stranded in the valley.

Then there was the question of employees getting to work, or getting home. And then there are the vendors the ski resort depends on to supply the food and other goods needed to keep all those people fed.

When it turned out that enforcement of the ban was not significant, they were able to move forward.

"And we had a bunch of people that canceled their visit because of the storm," Fairbank said. "But we had a bunch of people that snapped up those rooms at the last minute -- they wanted to go skiing because of the storm."

Tom Rumbolt of North Adams also found himself at the ski slopes because of the storm, but in kind of a backward way.

His two kids were scheduled to have a hockey game Saturday morning, but it was canceled because of the coming storm. So the Rumbolts took their two kids and two of their friends to Bousquet for some snow tubing.

Mom and Dad remained in the lodge and offered plenty of emotional support, with hot drinks in their hands.

"That's what it's all about," Rumbolt said from his seat next to the fireplace. "It's about having an enjoyable day."

To reach Scott Stafford:
sstafford@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6241.
On Twitter: @BE_SStafford