Glass Half Full Or Empty? Does This Top The Worst Winters In US History

Heavenly Ski Resort limping along through the drought.

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Was the 2014/15 season one of the worst winters in US history? Depends on how you look at it. If you hate snow it was the best, but for us skiers & snowboarders it was downright depressing. The National Ski Areas Association (NSSA) just released the figures for last season with regards to how many skier/snowboard visits were recorded. It comes as no surprise that the US posted the second worst ski/snowboard season on record in the last fifteen years. The major contributing factor being that snow just didn’t fall anywhere this winter in the Western U.S. It didn’t just hurt the ski resorts, but also local businesses in ski towns. For example, here in the Tahoe area one of the older, more famous local snow shops had shut its doors due to lack of business from the extreme drought.

Heavenly Gondola on one of the worst winters in US history
Heavenly Gondola

Another one bites the dust

Eternal in Sparks, Nevada was one of the few locally owned snowboard shops left in the region. After 21 years of service the shop couldn’t stay afloat. This mecca oozed snowboard history and culture. Not only did they carry the sickest gear, but there were famous pictures dressing the wall. You got the feel like it was a snapshot into the chapters of snowboarding history. A favorite was the Atlantis – Ingemar Backman image.  The photo is timeless as he’s soaring above the quarter pipe walls in Riksgransen, Sweden. When this photograph was taken it was the largest air ever done on a quarter pipe and it still looks amazing.  Seeing bits of snowboard memorabilia laced throughout the building and hanging out with the staff, Eternal will definitely be missed.  It’s a hard blow not only for locals, but for everyone around the country. They also served lots of customers via the web. Personally, it’s sad to think that the next generation of snowboarders in Carson City, Reno and Sparks may never even know what it’s like to hang out at a snowboard shop or get tips from their local shred guru.

Milano’s struggles to survive

Most of the drought related news comes from California/ Nevada, but unfortunately it didn’t stop there. Head northwest (no relation to Kane and Kim) to the luscious evergreens in Glacier. This small town is just a few miles from Mt. Baker. The terrible winter took a major toll on a lot of small communities in this area. For all those that trekked up to Mt. Baker, many drove right through the town of Glacier. It was the home of pro snowboarder Lucas DeBari and his parents’ restaurant Milano’s. Just like Eternal Board shop Milano’s restaurant succumb to the terrible snow season. The season was so bad that the ski area that set the world snowfall record in 1999 couldn’t even stay open for most of March and April this winter. This record setting season hit Milano’s incredibly hard and they were forced to close. In March there was a bit of good news for the tradition and staff.  With the help of another local restaurateur in Glacier, Milano’s has re-opened under new management. Most of the staff along with the menu will remain the same, but this winter’s hardship should be a serious wakeup call.

Heavenly Ski Resort limping along through the drought.
Heavenly Ski Resort limping along through the drought.

Unfortunately, stories like this go on and on throughout the West Coast. These are just a couple of the places we are sad to see go due to one of the worst winters in US history. It all starts with protecting our winters, which in turn will save the communities that we hold near and dear to our hearts. The traffic from those visiting on their snow adventure are what sustains these cool local businesses that give ski-towns their flavor. Next season, be sure to check out the local shops at the hill you frequent. Expert advice, individual service and local flare definitely increase the value of your purchase you just can’t get online.

In summary, was this one of the worst winters in US history? Personally, the 2014-15 ski season will do down in infamy due to the lack of snow.

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