CLEVELAND - The holidays are typically prime time for winter sports, but unseasonably warm temperatures are forcing skiers and snowboarders to travel far to find fresh snow, and ski resorts and ski and snowboard shops are feeling the impact.
At Village Ski and Snowboard in North Olmsted, equipment is stocked and skiers are anxious to hit the slopes.
"I have been dying for it to get cold because we want to ski," said shopper Julie Lavelle, who had to cancel her family's annual post-Christmas ski trip to western New York.
"We'll have to figure out something different to do this year," she said, adding that they're heading to Colorado later in the season, which has been inundated with fresh snowfall.
Shoppers are still stocking up on last minute stocking stuffers, but without snow, owner Ed Daugherty said sales are down 30% compared with recent Decembers.
"It's one of the few places you can come where people are disappointed the weather's nice," Daugherty said. "A lot of those families had to cancel their trips, and we see the end result of that where they're not coming in and getting the gloves and hats and their skies tuned up."
Lifts are idle at Boston Mills/Brandywine Ski Resort and the slopes are quiet. Some snow piles remain after temperatures below freezing allowed overnight snow making last weekend. Boston Mills opened one slope on Sunday, according to General Manager Josh Boyd.
"It's something that's out of our control. We obviously deal in the business of weather, so we kind of take what we get," Boyd said, explaining that the colder the temperature, the better the snow making. Last season, the resort didn't open until January 1 and remained open into April, so it is still early in the ski season.
"With cold enough temperatures, we can make a lot of snow, and we can get open really quick," he said. "So right now with the forecast for next week, it looks like we'll be right back at it again making snow."
Ski resorts in western New York are opening with limited trails and lifts. Holiday Valley has a handful of slopes and lifts open, and Peek 'n Peak is planning to open six slopes on December 26.