The region may have gotten its first real blast of winter last weekend, but the flakes have been flying at Chicopee Ski Club since Dec. 3, when the snow guns first fired up on the hill. They’ve been going ever since to get the hill set for this winter’s ski season.
“The weather has been very amenable for snow making,” said Lori McCrae, the manager of business development at Chicopee, adding that they need temperatures of about minus-four degrees for a couple days in order to start making snow.
“We’re officially opening Saturday (today), right on schedule.”
McCrae said the recent dump of snow has been a welcome addition to the hill, but added that the club would have been ready to go regardless.
“It’s very good to have the natural snow on top of the manmade snow, (but) it’s definitely an ambience thing. It’s not required because of our snowmaking capabilities.”
She said that what is even more critical than the snow that falls from the sky is the way their crews groom and prepare the manmade snow.
“Once the base is set in the first two weeks through snowmaking and natural snow, then we have the groomers out evening it out and making sure it’s of excellent condition, safe and enjoyable for skiing.”
The club has no minimum depth for its base before they open up the hill, McCrae said, but that they prefer to wait until a base of 30 centimetres of snow has built up in order to cover all of the rocks, grass, and other obstacles that might be on the hill. She said the base is at 30 cm and has been for about a week now, so they are ready to go.
They will have eight runs open today, with plans to open more in the coming weeks as more natural and manmade snow accumulates on the hills. The runs that are open range from easy to black diamond, giving skiers of all skill levels something to look forward to. They will also have four lifts open to the public.
Chicopee is opening its annual Christmas ski camps on Monday as well for kids who will just be starting their winter break.
“That’s really great for parents who are looking for something for their kids to do while they’re out of school before Christmas,” McCrae said.