Joel Gratz is truly enthusiastic about snow – perhaps more than the average Summit County skier or snowboarder.
“Many nights I have to force myself to go to bed and not just keep looking at radar and satellites and snow pickets, thinking if the morning report will be okay,” he said on Thursday, November 11 during the Prosperity Summit. Initiative Winter Kickoff Celebration at the Beaver Run Resort & Conference Center.
Gratz was the keynote speaker at the organization’s event, which celebrated its Summit Biz Bootcamp program. Gratz was there not only to inspire new business owners, but also to build excitement for the ski season.
As owner and founder of OpenSnow, Gratz made his living predicting snow forecasts for ski resorts and backcountry regions. His Boulder-based company is all about predicting the best powder for snowboarders and skiers. Gratz, who is from Pennsylvania and started skiing at Shawnee Mountain Ski Area, said watching snowfall was one of his favorite things to do as a kid and still is to this day. .
“My emotions are swinging up and down,” he told the audience. “A friend texted me today at 2pm: ‘Glad I left early; I had to go to Denver. Vail Pass was kind of a mess.
“(Then I think), ‘Oh, it’s snowing already. That’s great.’ And then I look outside and the snow stops for five minutes. ‘Oh no, is the storm over? What happened?’ So literally, I’ve had these same emotions since I was about 5 years old in Pennsylvania and growing up, and I just found a way to make a career out of it.
Before moving to Colorado, Gratz earned a degree in meteorology and a minor in business at Pennsylvania State University. Subsequently, he earned a master’s degree in environmental studies and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Soon after, he started working for a hurricane and earthquake insurance company. Around this time, his friends started asking him where the best snow was for skiing and snowboarding. Eventually, this turned into creating a blog and a 37-person mailing list where he shared his ideas weekly.
In 2011, when he was in his late twenties, he decided to take the plunge and start OpenSnow. According to the organization’s website, its “local forecast is considered ‘daily reading’ for skiers in the United States and Canada and affects more than 3 million people.”
Gratz’s activity is unique compared to other weather forecasting platforms because it is hyper specific. While other platforms may focus on predicting forecasts for roads and cities, his platform only focuses on where the best powder is for snowboarders and skiers.
“Our 100% focus is on the snow where people ski and ride, whether it’s in the resorts or in the backcountry,” Gratz said. “While we have access to pretty much the same data that any other weather app on your phone could have access to, it’s how we adjust that data and show that data that we’re trying to focus just for skiers and cyclists where they are Skiing: not in town, not at the base, not in Denver, not in the town of Vail or the town of Silverthorne — but for the mountains. , allows us to be more precise.
Gratz said he and his team are reviewing their membership offers. For one person, an annual subscription will cost $29.99 and for four people it will cost $39.99. The app offers features like five and 10 day forecasts, timelapse cameras, hourly forecasts, offline trail maps, historical snow reports and more. In the future, the platform will also offer snow forecasts for certain areas of the hinterland.