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March 15, 2016

Region’s 4 centers cease operations

SKIBob Ellis/staff photographer
Snow barely covers trails at Greek Peak Mountain Resort Monday afternoon after recent mild temperatures put an end to the ski season at the Virgil resort, along with Toggenburg in Fabius, Song Mountain in Preble and Labrador Mountain in Truxton.

By TODD R. McADAM
Associate Editor
tmcadam@cortlandstandard.net

Mother Nature is saying that the ski season — such as it was — is over.
All four ski centers in and around Cortland County have closed for the season, their owners said, in a winter that brought only 18 inches of snow to Cortland and temperatures, for the most part, slightly above normal.
“It wasn’t great,” said Peter Harris, owner of Song Mountain and Labrador Mountain ski resorts, in Preble and Truxton, respectively. “There were a lot of ski days, but just not over any duration.”
Following two years when ski centers opened by Thanksgiving, abnormally warm weather in December not only prevented snow from falling, but made snowmaking difficult. Harris’ facilities had one ski day in December. While January was decent, he said, February was below average.
The situation was about the same at Greek Peak Mountain Resort in Virgil and Toggenburg Mountain Winter Sports Center in Fabius.
“You’re going to have a badwinter come along,” said co-owner John Meier, but he’s talked withskiers who had more snow onthe roof than there was snowon the ground. “They’ve neverseen a winter this bad, since 1958.”
Harris has two options when faced with a poor season: cut costs — and he has — and hope for next year. But center owners admit that the quality of one season can affect season ticket sales the next. Song Mountain and Labrador are offering discounts on 2016-17 season passes.
Greek Peak and Toggenburg are doing the same, Meier said, but Greek Peak has been positioning itself in the past few years as a four-season resort, so Meier has other revenue streams: an i door water park, an adventure center, plus conference and resort venue features.
Marketing means Greek Peak will play host to 40 weddingsthis year, he said, up from three just three years ago. The centerwill also double the number of mountain bike trails, to four from two, and add bike hooks to ski lifts to haul the bikes up the mountain.
“It’s great diversification for us,” Meier said.
Greek Peak will also continueinvestments in the mountain, he said, although not at the paceof prior years, which saw a new ski lift, snowmaking equipment,an outdoor deck at its restaurantand new lighting on the Odyssey trail.
“They were raving about the lights on Odyssey (trail),” Meier said. Summertime investments will include a bit more snowmaking equipment and more lighting.
Hope remains. Even though Mother Nature says the ski center is over, a chance snow remains in the forecast for the weekend. Maybe it’ll be a blizzard, which Harris said might inspire him to reopen for a bit.
“We could use more of those,” he said.
“So far.”

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