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Vermont ski resorts are staffed and making extra snow as the season picks up

A snowy driveway leading to a ski lodge and mountain.
Liam Elder-Connors
VPR File
Jay Peak resort, seen here in 2019, has fully staffed all its departments after problems with finding workers during the pandemic.

Early season snow last year had skiers making turns in the backcountry well before Christmas, but when heavy rain and flooding hit the state just before the holiday, much of that snow melted away.

Now, Vermont’s ski industry is in the thick of the season's busiest time.

While snow may have been scarce as the year came to a close, resort workers have been more plentiful.

During the pandemic, lots of resorts struggled to find enough workers. But this year, ski areas have grown their local employee base and are relying less on international workers with seasonal visas.

Jay Peak General Manager Steve Wright says they've raised their starting pay to almost $17.50 an hour.

"I've been here 22 years, the best hiring season that we've ever had here both with the international workers and some of the H-2B folks that come in, but also domestically," Wright said.

Wright said all of their departments are full, and some even have a waitlist.

With the boon of staff and despite the snow loss, Bryan Rivard with the Vermont Ski Areas Association said resorts were planning for a busy week between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

"There's a range of bookings. A lot of areas are still completely booked out, still sold out. And some of the others are trending at or a little bit below what they had been for previous years," Rivard said.

More From Vermont Public: For the first time in nearly 90 years, The Middlebury Snowbowl gets night skiing

Up at Jay Peak resort, Wright says they've been hustling to make snow after the rains. And it's paid off. Jay was booked out this season.

"The snowmakers across the state get back to work, and we put something together back for the holiday public," Wright said.

Snowmaking has become a must for resorts across the northeast, with some investing in more machinery like snow guns to ensure guests have snow to ski on.

Climate change is making New England wetter in the winters, and more of that precipitation is expected to fall as rain.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message.

Abagael is Vermont Public's climate and environment reporter, focusing on the energy transition and how the climate crisis is impacting Vermonters — and Vermont’s landscape.

Abagael joined Vermont Public in 2020. Previously, she was the assistant editor at Vermont Sports and Vermont Ski + Ride magazines. She covered dairy and agriculture for The Addison Independent and got her start covering land use, water and the Los Angeles Aqueduct for The Sheet: News, Views & Culture of the Eastern Sierra in Mammoth Lakes, Ca.
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