Diamond Peak makes a miracle comeback
INCLINE VILLAGE – It was a winter of surprises for Diamond Peak.
A recent report comparing the 2005-’06 ski season with the previous year juxtaposed the dissimilar years, but in the end yielded surprisingly similar results.
“The two seasons, although really really different – almost opposites in fact – financially they turned out pretty similar,” Youmans said.
Although more than 14,000 fewer skiers visited the resort this year, revenues at the end of April were within $1,500 of 2004/2005, reported Youmans.
“And I reported to the board in January that we were going to be 40 percent below average because of the power outages and the rain (in late-December, early January),” he said.
Diamond Peak crews worked the month of December making and moving snow, but a series of holiday rain storms forced skiers indoors and left the lifts swinging empty.
On average the resort sees about 24,600 skier visits in December, this year they only recorded 15,758, a substantial loss said Youmans.
January at Diamond Peak wasn’t much better.
A week-long power outage that started on New Year’s Day left resort employees without work, skiers traveling elsewhere, residents eating by candle light and Youmans and other resort managers scrambling to get the lifts up and running.
“It’s a very bad situation,” Youmans told the Bonanza during the outage. “This has never happened in the resort’s history.”
When the power turned back on Jan. 9, IVGID officials estimated the resort loss to be somewhere in the $300,000 range.
Efforts to make up lost revenue at the resort included reduced lift operating schedules, shortened grooming schedules and shuttle routes as well as minimal staffing levels Youmans said.
As the president’s weekend holiday weekends came around in February so did the skiers and boarders.
Over the nine-day period in the middle of the shortest month, Diamond Peak put 20,526 people on the mountain – the first time in history the resort broke the 20,000-person mark for the holiday.
“Sunday (Feb. 19) was the busiest day of the season,” Youmans reported. “With a skier count of 3,719 people.”
Then came the miracle March of 2006.
The North Shore of Lake Tahoe saw more than 100 inches of snowfall in March 2006, one of the wettest months on record said National Weather Service officials.
Snow storms nearly every day of the month sky-rocked employee morale and skier visits at Diamond Peak.
During the 31 days of March, the mountain received 115 inches of snow – the most ever recorded since the resort began collecting monthly snowfall totals nine years ago.
The resort’s competitors agreed that March changed everything.
“This winter is amongst our top seasons ever,” Mt. Rose director of sales Murray Blaney told the Bonanza.
When the month came to a close Youmans went back the IVGID board with good news. The resort’s overall revenues, which were more than 40 percent below average at the end of January, had climbed to within 12 percent of normal.
April ended the season with 56 inches of new snow and nearly triple the average skier visits during a time the resort is usually “winding down” officials said.
“Diamond Peak normally budgets for about 4,600 skiers,” reported Youmans. “By the time the ski area closed on April, 23 our monthly skier count totaled 12,021 – 167 percent above the 10-year average.”
When it was all said and done Diamond Peak ended the 2005-’06 season only 6 percent below average revenues.
“The resort had an incredible April,” said IVGID director of finance Ramona Cruz. “It really helped fill in the gaps left from December and January.”
Though overall skier visits were down snowfall and skier yield (the amount of money each skier spends while visiting the resort) were higher than normal.
As for next year…
“The thing about ski resorts is that we are totally dependent on the weather,” Youmans said. “A lot of snow means people ski, not a lot and they don’t. But as managers it’s our job to keep the resort alive through marketing and customer service.
“Diamond Peak isn’t like other resorts around the basin; we don’t have a real estate market to fall back on so we have to operate very efficiently and hope it snows.”