Vermont ski industry celebrates snowfall

See the accompanying video here (apologies for the 30-second commercial lead-in.) (NECN: Jack Thurston, Stowe, VT) - Spencer Dance has been waiting months to get back on his snowboard.

"It's the first day and I'm excited to do it again," he said.

The nine-year-old and his family traveled from Pennsylvania to Vermont's Stowe Mountain Resort for Stowe's opening day.

"Hopefully this is the start of some really great skiing to come," said resort spokesman Jeff Wise.

The resort unveiled a new lift and a hands-free ticket scanning system. The goal of the additions is to get skiers and boarders on the mountain more efficiently.

Vermont already does a pretty good job of that. The state sees more than 4-million ski visits a year, with those guests dropping $750-million in direct spending, according to estimates from the trade group Ski Vermont. The group said Vermont is the top skiing and snowboarding destination in the East, behind only Colorado and California nationally. This mid-week storm should help most or all of the state's major downhill destinations open this weekend.

Resorts will tell you the Thanksgiving weekend isn't critical to their business. It's still very early and  primarily for the diehards. But it does crank up the all-important social media buzz machine, and help generate sales of season tickets and equipment.

"There was snow a couple of Thanksgivings ago, but to have snow before Thanksgiving is a treat," said boarder Nikki Neuburger.

Fresh snowfall in Vermont ranged from a few inches in the valleys to about a foot in the mountains. It created a true transformation for this state that was still mostly green and brown earlier this week, save for what came from snow-making guns.

State tourism officials are still planning their ski advertising blitz. "Because of the high expense of pre-holiday advertising, we typically start that advertising campaign in very late December, after Christmas. That way we can get a better value for our dollar," explained Deputy Vt. Tourism & Marketing Commissioner Steve Cook.

Even with the natural snow, many resorts will still be making their own. They hope to keep this early energy going straight through spring.

"It's fun, it's great, and I'd like to be here all day!" Spencer Dance beamed.

Lifestyle, Lifestyle, Lifestyle

In last week's Stowe Reporter, Jeff Wise, Stowe Mountain Resort's communication director, was quoted, "Unlike a decision to go to the beach, take a cruise or visit a theme-park, skiing and snowboarding is how people define themselves. It's not a vacation; it's a lifestyle choice." It is a lifestyle choice. It's why many of us are here. It's why I'm here. It's why you want to be here.