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Ski areas hope storm a boost

LINCOLN — This week&#';s snow, during February school vacation, has helped the ski industry recoup some of its losses for the season, officials said.

Alice Pearce, executive director of Ski NH, the statewide organization that represents and markets the Ganite State&#';s ski areas, said the industry has enjoyed &#';two very solid weeks with a couple of soft midweek days.

&#';Hopefully, the new snow continues a new trend,&#'; she said.

Last winter was very snowy and among the top five years for skier and snowboarder visits in the state. This winter has been almost snowless, and while alpine areas can make snow, many skiers do not go north unless they can see snow in their backyard.

Meteorologists were predicting that to change Thursday, with between eight and 10 inches of snow predicted statewide by Friday morning.

Overall, ski areas are 10 to 20 percent behind last year&#';s vacation period, with a couple of areas a bit closer to being even with last year&#';s vacation period, Pearce said.

Cross-country ski areas do not cover their trails with snowmaking equipment, so the winter&#';s dearth of snow has hit them particularly hard.

Still, Pearce said things are looking up there, too.

&#';I heard from one cross-country area in the Mt. Washington Valley and they were up 2 percent versus last year&#';s vacation period and up over its five-year average by 13.8 percent. So it looks like cross-country skiers are seeking out the snowy pockets of New Hampshire.&#';

Ben Wilcox at Mount Cranmore Resort said they had a record tubing day on Sunday, Feb. 19.

The North Conway resort also found therir children&#';s lesson program and mountain adventure park neared the busiest levels experienced last winter.

Pearce said the industry overall is &#';having a good New Hampshire vacation week so far &#-; hopefully they&#';ll all be enjoying some powder during the next few days &#-; that&#';s been a real novelty this year. The snow should help open up more glades and natural snow trails. March is traditionally our snowiest month, so we are hoping for lots of the white stuff this month.&#';

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