I agree that everyone involved with skiing loses. The skier loses because they have less terrain to ski, or poor ski conditions. If casual skiers don't ski early in the season, they tend not to come back in January or February (those have been my observations: if we get early snow, we are booked up most of the winter. Late snow, as happened 5 years ago (it sucked until Mid-February, then snowed a ton up until May) means great skiing but no skiers. They have forgotten about skiing and are sitting at home in the rain, waiting for the golf course to dry out.
Shops like myself get hurt if the snow is poor. I orderd alot more skis than I would normally have to keep gear on hand for Epicski members. No snow east of the Mississippi means that I have to sit on the gear that I would normally sell to all of you in the Midwest and Eastern Seaboard. At least I have walk-in traffic, which those Eastern shops definitely don't have these days. The same can be said of ski reps: skilled sales people will take their knowedge into another non-ski related field if they can't earn a decent living. We then end up with reps who are sub-par and screw up the orders, or otherwise make life tough for ski shops. This year's gear ends up at the ski swap at liquidation prices next season. Therefore, the 07/08 gear is not sold next winter, and another year of no profit will be the rule for ski shops.
Employees get their hours cut back when conditions are poor. Any business in a ski town is somehow related to the tourism industry. Low-wage service employees may move away, making shops offer higher wages to attract employees when/if the snow does return. If the "locals" aren't present, then the grocery stores and small restaurants will suffer in lack of business during the "slow" times between holidays and spring/fall.
Resorts will suffer due to lack of ticket sales and concessions, and therefore have to lay off employees. Some of these corporate resorts that seem to be interested in only the bottom line w/o regard to the welfare of their employees I am not so concerned about, but I do worry about the mom and pop ski areas that are run for the love of skiing. It doesn't take much to bankrupt a ski resort these days, unless the owner has deep pockets.
I love skiing, but it is a tough place to make a living, and probably always has been. Mostly, I am worried about good shops and small hills closing down due to industry trends and bad weather. Sliding on snow is a great sport, and I wish more people would try it out, and hopefully fall in love. Unfortunately, the cost of skiing is very high, which seems to limit the sport to the upper-middle class, at least in this area.
I suppose this is the price we pay to work in an industry that is definitely a luxury item, not a necessity for most people, and therefore business can come and go due to various factors beyone our control. Operating a grocery store would be much more predictable, but not as much fun!