CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The federal government observes 10 holidays. The ski industry celebrates three.
That's Presidents Day weekend, Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, and "Christmas Week" - the days between and surrounding Christmas and New Year's. Today, the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., marks the end of one of the busiest - and most lucrative - days for the ski industry in West Virginia.
"They have three nights and three days of skiing," said Lisa Ratliff, a spokeswoman for Canaan Valley Resort. "They can come up and make a nice vacation."
In a typical weekend Canaan sees "a few thousand" people, and a substantial increase for a holiday weekend like this one.
And though the weather failed to deliver much snow to the slopes, the state's resorts were able to manufacture nearly ideal conditions for the slew of people who hit the slopes.
Joe Stevens, a spokesman for the West Virginia Ski Areas Association, came off the slopes at Winterplace Ski Resort, in Ghent, Sunday afternoon to rave about the conditions.
"It's a perfect holiday weekend," he said. "You take the snow that came in the southern part of the state and add the cold temperatures - it was literally the perfect storm."
A layer of snow that fell Thursday in the southern part of the state was a blessing for a few resorts, but even those that didn't see new snow benefited from the colder temperatures. And it wasn't enough snow to deter holiday travelers - the roads were pretty much clear by Friday.
Even though it hasn't been a particularly snowy season, it's been cold enough to let the resorts make their own snow. That man-made snow, because of its higher water content, is more durable in mild weather, meaning it has survived fluctuations in temperature leading up to the holiday weekend. Ratliff said Canaan Valley had built up a 24-inch base of snow before the holiday skiers descended on the resort.
The holiday weekend around Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday is especially active in West Virginia, Stevens said, because so many of the skiers come from the southern part of the country, where the warmer season seeps further into winter than in the rest of the country.
"So it's finally getting colder in the South, and that's when people start thinking about winter," he said. "Even though there might be plenty of snow around Christmas time, a lot of people don't realize that what's in their backyard might not match what's on the slopes."
Plus, this is the first holiday weekend after the holidays - so for some people it's the first time to put the gear they got for Christmas to use.
Contact writer Shay Maunz at shay.ma...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4886.