Calgarians are catching up on some carving time and heading back to the slopes after frigid temperatures had many preferring to stay warm and toasty indoors: WinSport and Banff Sunshine Village experienced a surge in attendance Tuesday after a slower holiday season.
At Calgary’s only ski hill, attendance was down 70 per cent from Boxing Day to New Year’s Eve, compared to the same time last year. However, WinSport crews took advantage of the bitter cold and created enough fresh powder to open its 22-foot half pipe in just a few weeks.
“Our snow is 98 per cent man-made and not only did we get a lot of snow that fell from the sky, but we were able to make a lot. So our base is really, really good right now and we’re actually expecting to have a really, really long season,” said spokesperson Leighton Klassen.
Banff Sunshine Village said visitors in the mountains have an advantage on its main runs, where skiers and snowboarders experienced a nice inversion.
“On Goat’s Eye or on Great Divide, you’ll often feel the warmth and the warmer air up top and it’s quite nice,” said spokesperson Kendra Scurfield. “Being there, it’s like -15C when everywhere else is a bit colder.”
She said people were taking more thawing breaks and while Canadians can recognize an Arctic air blast, others got what they expected.
“A lot of our international guests were like, ‘oh well, it’s Canada, Canada’s cold,’ which kind of made me laugh. Hopefully, a lot of them are still around because it’s a nice, balmy -13C degrees on the slopes right now.”
Nakiska Ski Area welcomed a surge of guests Tuesday morning, but Resorts of the Canadian Rockies which runs the resort said extreme cold didn’t impact attendance. Resorts said it’s in the midst of one of its best holiday seasons and people were very committed to their mountain vacation plans.
Spokesperson Matt Mosteller said many of facilities in Alberta and B.C. have ski-in, ski-out lodges.
“That provides the benefit of taking that break. And certainly, not only if it’s cold outside, but more importantly to spend that time with friends and family. A lot of people do that just normally. They go in and catch up on reading a book by the fireplace or hot cocoa with the kids,” he said.
Mosteller said visitors also tried other outdoor activities such as snowshoeing but this week, Resorts is handling a surge in last minute bookings for those who want to get back outside.