Ski hill operators say this year’s season an improvement over dismal winter of 2014

Photo: archive of Radio Prague

Ski hill operators this year are fairly pleased with business, rating this winter – and consumer interest – a good sight better than the 2014 season which was dismal. After a slow start (too little snow in December) conditions improved and some hills will keep runs open at least until Easter.

Photo: archive of Radio Prague
Snowmaking remains in effect and runs are able to stay open even if there is now not much natural snow. Vladimír Kasík is the head of the company operating Špičák in the Šumava Mountains:

“It is possible to make snow on 80 percent of runs. The highest expense is the cost of electricity. Other high costs are labour and the operation of snow grooming machines. The grooming machines aren’t built to drive up tough ground, including rocks or other obstacles appearing where there is less snow, so maintenance also has to be factored in.”

Some lament that the conditions were not better in the run up to the Christmas holidays as well, at the same time that is far from surprising. It is understood that peak periods in the Czech Republic are January and especially February. Local hotels and other lodgings in the latter month are commonly booked several months in advance. A white Christmas, once in while though, wouldn’t hurt. Filip Svrček of skiareál Ješted:

Photo: Kristýna Maková
“It is a shame that we don’t get more help from nature and that Christmas was not great for business. The warm weather before the holidays kept most skiers away. Many of them opted for skiing abroad instead.”

With the end of this year’s ski season on the horizon, most operators this year can say they finished in the black. Petr Bažant of Skiarény Jizerky in the Jizera Mountains told Czech Radio that after the slow opening, the rest of the season was on par with normal winters – unlike last year – which saw losses due to unseasonably warm weather. Skiers, including one 38-year-old mother of two, confirmed this season was superior to the last:

“We went to the Jizera Mountains which are close to Prague, the nearest mountain range. We were a little worried there wouldn’t be enough snow. But to our own surprise there was really nice weather and cold.”

Better all-around conditions drove up interest in skiers who might otherwise opt for the Austrian and Italian Alps. With Czech ski hills profiting, much of revenues will go into paying off part of loans for long-term investments. Adam Svačina of Skiaréal Klínovec says this:

Photo: Barbora Kmentová
“We will make a profit this season but there was also a great deal of investment with returns estimated in only 10 – 15 years. Much of the profits will go into paying off loans. We saw a rise in clients of about 30 percent, in part because of our newest run. We hope to reach 180,000 clients by the season’s end.”

The season is still not officially at an end if you still want to get a bit of skiing or snowboarding in.