WILMINGTON - Clear skies, lots of powdery snow and more than 80 open trails resulted in a three-day holiday weekend of revenue for Whiteface Mountain Ski Center.
Friday through Sunday, Feb. 17-19, Whiteface nearly doubled its revenue compared to last year and more than doubled the total number of skiers who visited the ski center compared to 2016.
Skier visits for the three-day stretch totaled 15,364, according to state Olympic Regional Development Authority spokesman Jon Lundin. That figure compares with 7,444 last year, 8,901 in 2014 and 12,412 in 2013.
Liam Stoddard, 6, of Saranac Lake, skis along the Fox trail at Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington.
(News photo — Chris Knight)
It's an improvement in skier visits of 106 percent versus 2016 and 24 percent versus any year since 2014.
Of the 15,364 skiers who visited Whiteface this weekend, more than 40 percent of those visits occurred on Saturday, when 6,367 skiers accounted for $409,963 in revenue - nearly 50 percent of the mountain's revenue over the three-day stretch.
Saturday saw the biggest spike compared to last year, with skier visits jumping 146 percent and revenue nearly tripling, compared to last year. Saturday revenue was up to $409,963 after only $165,145 was made at the mountain in 2016.
But Friday and Sunday were also the best performing Friday and Sunday of President's Weekend for the mountain over the last four years.
On Friday, Whiteface made $184,906 with 2,903 skiers at the mountain, up 38 percent in revenue compared to last year.
On Sunday, Whiteface made $228,130 with 6,094 skiers at the mountain, up 87 percent in revenue compared to last year.
Not including the last two President's Weekends in 2016 and 2015, where Whiteface revenue and visitation numbers dipped considerably, this weekend's revenues were 19 percent better than 2014 ($822,999 versus $694,512).
As of Monday morning, the mountain still had 75 trails open, 55 groomed, with eight lifts operating.
Through Monday, the mountain had more than 80 trails and nine lifts open, including a high of 84 trails open Sunday.
The previous week's snowfall resulted in 27 inches of fresh, natural snow over a five-day stretch for Whiteface, which brought conditions to a perfect level by Thursday, Feb. 16 - 198 inches of natural snow this season for the mountain, right in time for the holiday weekend.
The economic boon is much needed for the mountain, which is the crown jewel of the state Olympic Regional Development Authority, a state-run agency that has struggled financially in recent years with mild winter weather.
Although ORDA had its two best summers on record back-to-back in 2015 and 2016, it was saddled by Whiteface's worst winter season on record in 2015-16. ORDA's operating revenues dropped by 25 percent from 2014-15 to 2015-16 as Whiteface's total yearly revenues dropped from $9,549,752 to $7,698,359.
Whiteface received only 58 inches of natural snow and more than 17 inches of rain last season, compared to a typical average of more than 100 inches of snow, which has crested more than 200 inches already this year.
Despite the struggles, the authority still wants to grow by an average of 3 percent in the next three years, Director of Marketing Liz Mezzetti said at the authority's December board meeting.
"The minimal growth that you are seeing, what we are saying is that it is not enough," she said in December. "We want to see substantial change. We would like to see Whiteface, Belleayre and Gore grow by about 10 percent over the next three years."
This weekend's revenue will surely help, as those numbers were up despite not including crowds skiing the 80 open trails on a sunny 35-degree day at the mountain Monday.
The financial figures ORDA reported also don't include commission revenues from food, beverage or rental sales.