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Bennington ski area records best year ever

Crotched Mountain Slush Cup competition on March 17.

(Staff photo by Carole Allen)

Crotched Mountain Slush Cup competition on March 17. (Staff photo by Carole Allen) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

BENNINGTON — After a dismal season in 2011-2012, Crotched Mountain Ski and Ride rebounded in 2012-2013 with its best season on record, thanks in large part to the hefty amount of snowfall that hit the Monadnock region this winter.

The season wrapped up over the weekend, as Sunday was the final day the mountain was open to the public.

General Manager Pat Terry said in a phone interview Monday that Crotched Mountain is typically one of the first mountains in the state to have 100 percent of its trails open at the beginning of the year, and this season it was one of the last to close.

“The weather on Saturday was like midwinter conditions,” Terry said. “And the afternoon on Sunday ended up being gorgeous.”

Which was a perfect way to cap off an incredible year, Terry said.

Crotched Mountain had its best season in the nine years it has been open, both in terms of statistical numbers and revenue.

Maybe it had something to do with the fact 2011-2012 was a ghastly year for winter sports enthusiasts in terms of the amount of snow, or lack thereof. Maybe it had something to do with the introduction of the new high-speed quad chairlift, appropriately named the “Crotched Rocket.” Terry said it’s likely a combination of factors.

“As far as comparing [this season] to last year goes, don’t even do it,” Terry said. “Last year was a bad year for ski areas.”

Crotched Mountain opened the season on December 1, 2012, and a snowstorm that popped up right near Christmas dropped plenty of natural snow on top of the man-made snow — enough to sustain the mountain for the weeks.

Then the Nor’easter that hit in early February, blanketed the region with several feet.

“The second you get snow on the ground, people flock to the ski areas,” Terry said.

The high-speed chairlift was purchased almost a year ago and installed over the summer months. Peak Resorts, Crotched’s parent company, purchased the Rocket from Ascutney Mountain after the Vermont resort shut its doors.

It takes skiers and boarders to the “true summit” of the mountain, after trails were extended upwards this summer.

“The great thing about the lift was that it brought us a lot of people who had never skied here before,” Terry said.

It’s impossible for Terry to forecast next year with no knowledge of what the winter weather will bring. But he said ideally Crotched staff just need an average winter to get people to the mountain. There’s no need for a huge snowfall; just a little on the ground is enough to draw people in.

The business Crotched Mountain brings in can have a direct effect on the region’s economy, too. Terry said anything from gas stations in Antrim, Bennington and surrounding towns to local bed and breakfasts benefit from the ski area’s business.

“The mountain brings a tremendous value to the region, just with traffic alone, and bringing people to the region in general,” Terry said. “It’s a great area and a great region.”

He said he’s grateful for Crotched Mountain Resort, located about a quarter mile away near the Crotched Mountain Golf Club, and all the business it brings to the mountain.

This late in the season, Terry said skier visits do ultimately drop, and it becomes cost prohibitive to keep the trails groomed and snowmakers running.

Deals on passes for the 2013-2014 winter season are already available on the mountain’s website, Terry noted.

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