YAKIMA, Wash. — Even though Mother Nature has been pretty sketchy this year when it comes to putting snow on the ski slopes, things still bode well for at least a decent winter for the United States’ ski-and-snowboard industry.
Because this is a Winter Olympics winter.
Like their more well-attended and anticipated cousin of the summer, the Winter Olympics roll around every four years. The people who run ski resorts look forward to those years, knowing full well winter sports will be in the headlines and on the television far more than in non-Olympic years.
This year’s additional Olympic exposure, though, may not necessarily drive people to the nearest ski resort in hopes of emulating Lindsey Vonn — especially this year, when it’s a good bet most Americans couldn’t name the site of this year’s Feb. 7-23 event.
(It’s in Sochi, not that that will help the bulk of the non-skiing populace who have never heard of it. For the record, it’s a Russian seaport on the Black Sea — and southeast of Krasnodar, if that helps.)
What skiers and snowboarders need more than anything around the region, though, is more snow.
Things looked promising for a big holiday season early on when an early dumping allowed Crystal Mountain and Stevens Pass to enjoy early openings. But not much has come down since.
White Pass is open for daily operation with the Couloir Express, Basin Quad, No. 4, Great White and Platter lifts running, but the ski area is having to rely a great deal on its snow-making machinery since there just hasn’t been any new snow for days.
Nothing at Summit at Snoqualmie has been open and it may be two weeks before there’s sufficient coverage there, and Snoqualmie Summit management has arranged for its season pass holders to receive discounted lift tickets at Crystal Mountain.
Nobody wants to see a repeat of the winter of 2011-12, when the weakest snowfall in two decades resulted in 51 million skier visits nationally — a significant drop from the previous winter’s record 60.5 million visits. Last winter saw a fairly sizeable rebound to 56.6 million visits.
People watching the weather outlook for White Pass have reason for at least a modicum of enthusiasm. There’s a 50 percent chance of snow Tuesday night, though it isn’t expected to be more than a half-inch. Then there’s snow several days in the forecast — again, not much on any given day, but enough that by Saturday it could start to make a difference.
• This article has been updated to note that Sochi is on the Black Sea.