After last year’s historically low snowfall, skiers came out in force this winter.

Ski areas in northwestern Maine are reporting higher attendance and a longer season this year, citing significantly heavier snowfall and colder weather in comparison to the mild previous season.

Judy Morton, executive director of the Rangeley Lakes Chamber of Commerce, said when the state has heavy snowfall, it boosts the economy in areas such as Rangeley that depend on visitors coming for winter activities.

While northern Maine usually can count on snow, she said it’s important to winter sport businesses that southern Maine get snow, too. The widespread snowfall helps increase business because of the additional interest in winter sports.

Morton said while Portland and Boston residents may dread winter storms, Rangeley and other northern areas embrace it as an important part of their economy.

“We know what to do with snow here,” she said.

JoAnne Taylor, director of marketing and communications for Saddleback ski area, said last season the resort reported 133 inches of snow. This season it has had 215 inches and is expecting more.

While last year they closed April 14, this year they plan to stay open the rest of April.

“If they don’t have it all out of their system, there’s still time,” Taylor said of the skiers.

She said Saddleback still has good snow cover on all trails, with snow depths ranging from 38 to 52 inches and freezing temperatures throughout the day.

Manager Karleen Andrews of Titcomb Mountain in Farmington said the ski area had a good season because of the consistency in snowfall, which helps increase day-ticket and season-pass sales.

“If they’re confident there is going to be snow, they’re more likely to buy a season pass,” she said.

She said Titcomb had about a 10 percent increase in season-pass sales and about a 15 percent increase in day-ticket sales.

She said the consistent snow, along with a decrease in prices, contributed to an increase in sales.

The length of the season differs from year to year, depending on the weather, she said, because the small mountain doesn’t have the elevation or the resources of the larger ski resorts.

Because of the unexpected snowfall Titcomb received in mid-March, the ski area’s board decided to re-open the mountain the weekend of March 23 and 24. Andrews said in the nine years she has worked there, the mountain has never been open those days.

“It was definitely a first,” she said.

She said Titcomb ran special sales and promotions that extra weekend, and about 300 people attended.

Ethan Austin, communications manager for Sugarloaf ski area, said business has been good all year.

“Overall, it’s been an incredible season,” he said.

He said Sugarloaf was lucky to have such large storms throughout the winter.

Between the consistent snow and the ski resort investing in low-energy snowmaking equipment, he said, the resort spent significantly less this year in snowmaking. He said its day-ticket sales were up and the season-pass sales were ahead of their expectations.

He said they don’t have a set closing date but plan to be open through the end of April.

“We’re excited for a long spring season,” he said.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252
[email protected]

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