Virginia's ski resorts require three things: snow, a hill, and customers. Only the topography is reliable.
Climate change could alter the pattern of snowfall, and create warmer winter temperatures. Wintergreen Resort plans to open by second week in December, making snow for the 26 runs with water from a 5-million gallon tank.1
If warm temperatures force a delay in opening until after the December holiday season or a closure in early March, the economics of operating a ski resort in Nelson County would be dramatically impacted.
The demand for skiing drops as the population ages and older people choose less-active recreational sports. One business risk for Virginia ski resorts is that customers may choose to visit other ski resorts with better snow conditions, such as Seven Springs/Whitetail Mountain/Ski Liberty in Pennsylvania or Canaan Valley in West Virginia.
The most unusual ski resort in Virginia is at Lynchburg. in 2009, Liberty University spent $8 million to cover Candler Mountain with a form of artificial turf to create a synthetic snow surface. The Snowflex Centre is a gleeming white hillside offering artificial skiing 12 months of the year, and was designed to provide recreational diversions at a school that bans the use of alcohol. Public use helps fund operations at the site, one of just two artificial skiing/tubing mountains in the United States.2
There are no snow-covered mountains in Fairfax County, but there are people with money who want to ski. The solution: build an indoor skiing arena with its own snow-covered mountain. The Fairfax County Sports Tourism Task Force announced plans in 2019 to partner with a private corporation, SnowWorld USA, to create a public-private partnership and build a facility on the slopes at the county landfill in Lorton. The justification for the county's involvement was expressed clearly by an elected supervisor:3