Snowmaking essential for WI winter recreation

Posted: 5:40 PM, Nov 29, 2015
Updated: 2015-11-29 18:40:21-05

WILD ROSE, WI -- Nordic Mountain, in Wild Rose, is celebrating its opening weekend, and bringing in hundreds of skiers, and snowboarders from across the region.

But this "snow business" is getting a man-made boost, as other winter sports are falling victim to the elements.
As of this weekend, Nordic Mountain has just two runs open, out of 18 in all. But it's enough to bring in skiers from all over.
And with the state's snowmobile trails still brown, Nordic Mountain spokespeople say they're thankful for the ability to make snow.
On Sunday the attraction has snowboarders, like Ethan Hinderman, driving more than an hour just to be here. 
"I'm here with my friends. I just bought a season pass," smiles Hinderman. "well, there's only one run out, but it's fun because they have terrain." 
As far as timing goes, general manager William Ringenoldus says they're par for the course.
"Last year we actually opened on November 15th," says Ringenoldus, "which was one of our earliest dates that we've ever opened." 
With little snow cover, if any, throughout much of the state so far this year, Ringenoldus says they're lucky nights have been below freezing.
"It's been cold enough [for snowmaking]," says Ringenoldus, "so we get open."
Ringenoldus says recent investments in snowmaking equipment have put them in a safe place in the face of milder winters.
"We invest more and more money every singe season into our snowmaking system, and that's what has gotten us to where we are right now," says Ringenoldus. "Our great snowmaking system can produce this great snow in very warm temperatures."
That helps Nordic Mountain host an average of 40,000 skiers each year.
But at the nordic ski trail system just down the road, "nope," says Ringenoldus, "that is natural snow only."
For now, the wait for snow is ongoing, as many businesses that rely on it are still recovering from a mild winter last year.
The Wisconsin Department of Tourism says tourism spending was up more than six percent across all seasons from 2013, to 2014.
But recent mild winters have forced some businesses that rely on winter tourism in particular to adapt.
That means more winter festivals, and indoor activities, like water parks.