The President and CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, Andy Wirth, is optimistic about the future of the ski industry despite unusual weather. I heard the interview on KCRW’s program, “Press Play” with Madeleine Brand where she asked the executive, “How will the drought affect California ski resorts?”
A lot of people have been nervous about the upcoming year after El Nino caused a shortened 2015 season and the driest summer in years. Since skiing and ski resorts rely on snow, the extensive drought seems to indicate a major problem for both. Andrew “Andy” Wirth however, has a different outlook. “This past winter was certainly a tough one, as everybody knows… but we actually made our way through quite well,” he explains.
And El Nino doesn’t just make for dry weather. He explains how the real affect, as explained by the Stanford report on the subject, is in an increased volatility in the weather, and that’s something of which they can take advantage.
“I can manage and build this business model for the long term,” he says. With the ability to invest in more snow making and management, Wirth is confident that even if all 6,000 acres of the Squaw Valley land aren’t covered naturally, they will be able to open 4,000 at a minimum, which still makes for a very fun time on the mountain.
He also notes that the most probable affect of an El Nino winter is actually colder weather and that there’s no reason to fear for winter in the region entirely. Learn more about Andy Wirth: http://andywirth.com/
The company, and others like it, is also looking to hedge their business with increases in summer land use, such as weddings, meetings, and large events like the Ironman. In fact, most of their summer, he explains, is already completely booked and the company is making money despite a shortened ski season.
Andy Wirth confidence in the matter doesn’t come out of ignorance. An avid outdoors-man, Andy Wirth spent several years as a back-country ranger in Colorado, as well as fighting wild land fires in Northern New Mexico. Wirth holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Colorado and attended Edinburgh University as well.
He sees the interaction of business with nature as quite normal and considers himself and others in his position to be resource managers above all else. He believes that they are managing the legacy of the mountains and hardly sees the weather as his enemy.
Andy Wirth overall statement is that Squaw Valley and the other resorts in Olympic Valley are not in any financial danger and the different possibilities for the upcoming season and years beyond are being closely watched and attended. There is nothing to fear: Your vacation is safe.