Ski resorts struggling in warm weather

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Like the rest of Central Europe, we're having an unusually warm winter here in the Czech Republic. Some towns and cities have even posted record temperatures often reaching well above the ten degree Celsius mark. With snow scarce on the ground, travel agents say many Czechs who traditionally go to the mountains to ski are now buying holiday packages elsewhere. Naturally, many ski resorts are struggling to adapt to the situation. Dita Asiedu reports:

Ski resorts across the country agree it's been the worst season in ten years. Although most hotels in the mountain areas remain fully booked, resorts are patiently waiting for a change in weather. Some have invested millions of crowns to enter the season with a new look and more modern ski lifts. In the north of the country some have only just begun to open their slopes. Martin Rada is from the Mountain Rescue Service in the popular northern resort of Spindleruv Mlyn:

"We had very little snow here and there was very icy and hard snow up in the mountains. So, we had different accidents because many people were hiking and had trouble with their knees and some even broke their legs. Now, one week after Christmas, some of the lifts are open but not all of them. We still have many tourists from Europe - from Germany, Holland, Lithuania, and Russia."

And you've been using artificial snow?

"Yes we call it technical snow from the snow cannons. Four lifts are open for this kind of snow. The chair lifts are also open but not for skiing purposes. They take people up to go hiking."

It seems only those areas offering entertainment to make up for the lack of snow are surviving. Besides great slopes, Spindleruv Mlyn also has two aqua parks, a bowling centre, and organisations offering other outdoor activities. Petra works at Yellow Point, which offers both ski courses and adrenaline sports to tourists:

"We have had fewer ski clients and more clients for adrenaline activities. Because there was no snow we came up with the No Snow pass. This pass includes four activities - a ten minute ride on a segway, one-way bridging, a go on the giant swing, and the bungee trampoline in our adventure park. All of these cost 499 crowns."

Photo: CzechTourism
That's around 23 US dollars. But in other parts of the country the situation seems less optimistic. Magda Vankova heads the Sokol sports club operating the ski resort in Luka nad Jihlavou, in the Vysocina region in the south-east of the country. Last winter, the resort enjoyed four full months of glory - from early December until March:

"This season, after very little snow, we ceremonially opened the ski lift on Friday December 29. It remained in full operation the following weekend. But at noon on January 1 we sadly had to close down the ski lift again. In resorts such as this one in the Vysocina region, the most lucrative time of the season is the Christmas period. That's when people and schools go on holiday for two weeks. So, because the ski lift was closed we've lost half our winter earnings."

With warm weather predicted all through January, it looks like the Czech Republic's traditional ski resorts are in for a very tough winter.