Study: Ski Areas Exaggerate Snowfall - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Study: Ski Areas Exaggerate Snowfall

Killington, Vermont - December 2, 2009

It's slowly starting to look like winter at Killington resort, with just enough white stuff to satisfy skiers starving for snow.

Ski resorts across the country are constantly waiting for Mother Nature to strike. And according to a study conducted by two economics professors at Dartmouth College, some resorts exaggerate snow reports to make conditions look better than they really are. The professors recorded snowfall totals at resorts across the country over a four year period and compared the data with totals gathered at nearby government weather stations.

"So we found on average resorts report substantially more snow on weekends," study author Jon Zinman said. "There's no reason you'd expect a resort to get more snow on a Saturday than a Tuesday. That's just not how weather works."

Zinman estimates 10 to 15 percent of resorts are guilty of embellishing their numbers.

Skiers say they aren't exactly shocked by the news.

"Of course they exaggerate it," one skier said. "They're exaggerating because they want money."

But some Vermont ski resorts are shocked.

"I don't think they exaggerate snow totals," said Tom Horrocks of Killington Ski Resort. "They may when it comes to surface conditions from time, but definitely not their snow totals."

Vermont ski officials say the study is flawed, arguing that it's not uncommon for snow totals on the slopes to vary greatly from nearby weather stations.

While data from weather stations more than 1,000 feet below the summit of a ski area wasn't used in the study, most weather stations in the east are an average of 26 miles from the slopes.

"We have four live webcams here in Killington. Other resorts have webcams. You have the consumer that can pull out their iPhone and tweet from the resort," Horrocks said. "You know, it's gotta pass the straight face test no matter what you put out there."

Parker Riehle of the Vermont Ski Areas Association said, "If there was ever a time to exaggerate a snowfall report it'd be during the week to generate excitement and buzz for the upcoming weekend, and to report more snow on the weekend when the crowds are already here wouldn't do anyone any good."

Regardless of whether resorts lie about snow, skiers say they're just glad it's here.

Winter is finally on its way-- and the start of another season on the slopes.

Keagan Harsha - WCAX News

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