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Glenshee Ski Centre reflects on 'half a season'

By: Mark Mackay
Published in: The Courier
Date: 09 April 2012
Bosses at one of Scotland's top ski centres say they have enjoyed a reasonable season despite festive sunshine and a March heatwave.
Warmer weather ravaged snowfall at the Glenshee Ski Centre time and time again but it remained strong enough at other times to attract thousands of visitors to the slopes.
The past two years had brought stunning success to the centre after enduring a number of fallow years.
In 2010 runs were open in mid-November and continued to offer good conditions into late March, much to the delight of snowsports fans and staff alike.
Regular fresh snowfall extended the season repeatedly and through the best of the season daily visitor numbers rose into the thousands.
Predictions for the 2011/12 Scottish season were every bit as positive but in the end proved to have been off the mark.
Glenshee's managing director Graeme McCabe said there had plenty of reason to be positive, but admitted there had only really been half a season.
''We had a good enough start, with the first good snow falling by around December 12," he said. ''That was later than the previous year, but still early by normal standards and there was plenty of good skiing on offer.
''Visitor numbers were very strong and we had been hoping that would continue right through the turn of the year and even into March once again.
''Christmas Day and Boxing Day were unseasonably warm, however, and we lost a lot of snow, though we recovered once again at the beginning of the year.
''We continued quite happily up until the middle of February, when temperatures began to rise. We lost a lot of snow over the course of a few weeks and then everyone knows what happened in March, when we were hit with a heatwave.
''Frankly we didn't have a second half to the season, but fortunately the first half was good — if not a match for last year, which really was exceptional.''
Mr McCabe admitted that the 2010/11 season was responsible in large part for his continued positivity.
''We certainly had a below-average year, but it has not been a total loss and we will scrape by.
''It would have been great had the snow continued for a few more weeks, but really we've been winding down for a while. It helps that this has come on the back of two such strong seasons.''
Mr McCabe, meanwhile, said he had not been too perturbed by the nature of weather predictions for the season.
''Back in late November, forecasters were predicting another Ice Age,'' he said. ''These were, however, the same experts who predicted that we would enjoy a barbecue summer, so you always take things with a pinch of salt.
''You hear the same claims every year and hope for the best, but I suppose you wouldn't work at a ski resort in Scotland without being something of an optimist.''
The abrupt finish to quality skiing at Glenshee ensured that there was no opportunity for staff to gauge the impact of the current economic climate on the sector.
Skiing in Scotland is often described as ''opportunistic,'' with snowsports fans hitting the slopes in good conditions until they run out of funds. With only half a season, Glenshee experienced little or no impact from belt tightening.


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