Czech ski hill operators rue poor winter season

Lipno nad Vltavou, photo: CzechTourism

Czech ski hill operators are ruing the poor winter season this year, ranking it among the four worst over the last two decades, daily Lidové noviny writes. The season got off not only to a late start this year but some ski areas saw fewer foreign visitors than expected, namely from neighbouring Poland.

Photo: CzechTourism
This winter season for ski resorts and hills in the area of Frýdek-Místek and the Beskydy Mountains ranked among the worst in recent memory, Czech daily Lidové noviny writes. According to the daily, Špindlerův Mlýn in the Giant Mountains was the exception but almost everywhere else, most notably lower-laying areas, saw too little snow, too late. The season only really got going well after Christmas; a brief week or two in January saw the first extended snowfall; but even February, for example, saw unseasonably warm spells, with hills having to rely largely on snowmaking machines rather than fresh snow.

The head of one operator in Beskydy told the newspaper that 2015/16 was hamstrung right from the start with little skiing in the run-up to the Christmas holidays, a more crucial part of the season than many realise. He expressed the view that conditions in Moravia were generally worse this year than in Bohemia; in the Krkonoše (or Giant) Mountains ski hills still saw a fair amount of business, and the well-situated Špindlerův Mlýn came out ahead. Elsewhere, the Beskydy operator suggested, few expected the return of Josef Lada-style winters anytime soon, referring to the early 20th century illustrator’s painting of idyllic snow-covered villages and landscapes.

The exception was Špindlerův Mlýn, which reportedly had a very good season, seeing a ten percent rise in visitors year-on-year to half a million visitors – the highest number in the last three years. The normally popular Ještěd in the area of Liberec, just an hour or so drive from Prague, which traditionally benefits from weekend skiers or snowboarders, fared considerably worse. The hill saw the number of visitors drop by one-third and the operator, Lidové noviny reported, is around 11 million crowns in the hole, of which 6.5 million are owed to the city.

Krušný hory are also ranking this year as among the worst winter season in recent memory and are counting their losses: Ski&Bike Špičák in the Šumava Mountains, saw the current season last 14 days less than last year. Usually, the ski season wraps up around the Easter holidays or the week after. With this ski season for all practical purposes now over, operators will look to recover and regroup. Planning ahead for the next season, most will be praying next winter won’t be similar, that they will after several miserable winters at last see better returns on considerable investment.