by Gráinne Byrne
Record numbers of Scottish snow-sports fans were treated to access-all-areas passes when almost every run in the country’s ski centres opened up for the best weekend of the season.
Despite other key sporting events taking place, Scotland’s five resorts enjoyed fantastic conditions and huge visitor numbers on Saturday and Sunday. Over 13,000 sports enthusiasts, including skiers, snowboarders, hill-walkers and climbers took to the hills.
“Considering everything else that was going on, the other main sporting events at the weekend such as the Six Nations rugby and the cup matches, we had a good turnout and were very pleased with it,” remarked James McIntosh, operations manger at The Lecht.
All runs were open at Glencoe, Glenshee, The Lecht, and the Cairngorms and, despite a windy start at Nevis Range (Scotland’s highest ski area), ten out of eleven runs were open for superb skiing and snowboarding.
Marian Austin, Nevis Range managing director, commented: “Right now we have fantastic alpine conditions, the best of the season. There’s powder off-piste, soft snow on the runs and the groomed areas are great.”
Tom Taylor of Edinburgh’s Freeze Proshop was skiing at Glenshee on Sunday and says the Scottish skiing was comparable to that of the Alps: ”The snow was perfect, with spring conditions. When the weather’s really good (here) it’s as good as France.”
In Scotland the snow-sport season usually runs until the end of April but the very good conditions seen over the last few days may not be repeated before then. Due to an incoming thaw and expected milder conditions, the season is expected to come to a premature close.
This weekend on the slopes:
– Glencoe: 1,400 visitors, all runs open, excellent conditions
– Glenshee: 3,500 visitors, all runs open, full covering snow, full width soft snow on every run
– Cairngorms: 4,500, perfect snow conditions, lovely sunny weather, all runs open
– The Lecht: 1,800 all runs open, excellent cover of snow, great conditions
– Nevis range: 1,800 visitors 10/11 runs open, great conditions