Pisgah ski numbers recover from last winter

SARANAC LAKE – A longer ski season than last year led more skiers and snowboarders to hit the slope at Mount Pisgah Ski Center this winter.

The village-run mountain, which closed for the season Sunday, sold a total of 933 day passes during the winter of 2012-13, an increase from the prior winter when 618 day passes were sold, according to figures provided by village Recreation Director Charlie Martin, who left the job Friday. The mountain sold 874 passes during the winter of 2010-11.

“We had a good year,” said Martin. “I’m happy with the numbers. We did drop our rates $5 across the board, which didn’t help the financials any, but the head count got up, and maybe that will help to boost next year.”

The ski season at Pisgah this winter was about three weeks longer than the winter of 2011-12. The mountain opened for the season this year on Dec. 27 and closed on March 24. Last year, Pisgah didn’t open until Jan. 7 and closed on March 15.

“The big thing for us this year was catching that Christmas break, which we missed the last winter,” Martin said. “If we get the kids coming in, that’s when we do really well on day passes.”

While day passes increased, the number of season passes purchased was flat this winter at roughly 280, Martin said.

He said sales of tubing passes increased from 1,182 last winter to 1,272 this winter. However those numbers are down dramatically from two years ago, when 2,750 tubing passes were sold. Martin said the drop-off is tied directly to the state Olympic Regional Development Authority’s decision to open a tubing run two years ago at the MacKenzie-Intervale Ski Jumping Complex in Lake Placid.

Martin said expenses were down “considerably” at Pisgah this winter as 95 percent of its snowmaking was done by volunteers, specifically, the Friends of Mount Pisgah.

Village Treasurer Paul Ellis said Wednesday that he hadn’t yet compiled the end-of-season financial numbers for the mountain, which generally is subsidized by local taxpayers as a community service.