MADERA COUNTY – The lack of snow and the cost of insurance for a very short season has forced the cancellation of this year’s Mountain Area Ski School (MASS) program.
“It is with great displeasure that we announce that the MASS season of 2014 will have to be cancelled,” said organizer Matt Casey in an email to volunteers.
Casey says many factors were considered in the decision, the first and the most obvious factor being the weather.
“California is experiencing a record low snowfall for this time of year. This late season condition affects the actual ski/ride lessons available for our students,” said Casey. “Considering Badger Pass’s commitment to the National Park Service, the closure of the resort is determined specifically on a certain date, regardless of the snow conditions. This situation limits our ability to operate and execute a comprehensive ski school in such a short period of time.”
Casey noted that they have never started the MASS program this late in the season, and that the immediate forecast does not appear to be promising, with the National Weather Service predicting highs in Yosemite this Friday and Saturday of 73 degrees.
Also, there is a financial factor that must be addressed. MASS pays approximately $5,000 per season for liability insurance for instructors.
“Staff, Board members and all our Instructors must complete a State of California mandated Lifescan (fingerprinting and DOJ background check) and a Credentialed Certification process to qualify as a MASS Instructor,” said Casey. “These mandates are not cheap, and MASS subsidizes these expenses. If we conduct 2 classes per season or 14 classes per season the costs are the same.”
Conducting a very short and ineffective season of instruction with the same expenses needed to conduct a full and productive season puts MASS in the position of compromising funds needed to provide scholarships to deserving students.
Casey thanks all the instructors, acknowledges them for their patience, and notes that these decisions are always tough to make and are not always popular.
“Please know that your commitment to this institution in our beloved mountain area is a testament to a volunteer spirit that is hard to find,” he said in his email to the volunteers. “This very unique and recognized program does not happen by itself. YOU, the Instructor, make it happen!”