Resiliency in drought conditions: A brief interview with Andy Wirth, CEO Squaw Valley Ski Holdings

California is in the midst of a record-setting drought. In a recent poll sponsored by the California Water Foundation, respondents have ranked their concerns of the drought above any other issue currently facing California residents today. While the shortage of water is difficult on most, imagine if your livelihood depended on it?

Ski areas rely almost entirely on precipitation to operate a successful business and are therefore facing many challenges with these dry conditions.

To learn more about the impacts the drought can have on the skiing industry, I tuned into an interview on the KCRW segment “Press Play with Madeleine Brand.” Madeleine interviewed the CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings Andy Wirth to discuss the effects the drought has on skiing.

Andy Wirth is a well-known figure within the U.S. skiing industry. He has served as CEO and President of Squaw Valley Ski Corporation since 2010, has over 24 years of marketing and sales experience and has many interests in sustaining the natural resources needed to operate a successful skiing business.

This past winter was a tough one for the ski industry as it was one of the driest in recorded history. Because of the less than ideal conditions, Squaw Valley did notice a decrease in the number of skier visits, prompting the question: “How many winters could the ski area survive if each year was like the last one?” Learn more about Andy Wirth:

According to Andy Wirth they can survive an infinite amount of winters. They have a solid capital structure, a good business and the ski area has remained profitable. However, they do have to take measures to help alleviate the pressure these dry years can create.

This includes supplementing with more man-made snow, managing existing snow efficiently and reducing the amount open skiing acres. Additionally, during summer months, they help boost business through hosting other activities such as weddings, meetings and athletic events. Learn more about Andy Wirth:

Wirth says these opportunities allow them to “withstand changes and the variability of weather.” Yet, beyond dealing with common weather variability,

Wirth says they are committed to reducing their carbon footprint, promoting renewable energy sources and reducing their overall contribution to climate change. This, in and of itself is an investment in the longevity the ski industry.

Lastly, for skiers that are simply looking forward to the upcoming season, Squaw Valley is predicting a winter of “favorable circumstances” and are planning to open on the weekend prior to thanksgiving.

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