When the skiers hit the slopes in T-shirts, it’s a good sign the ski season is winding down.
Chicopee Ski and Summer Resort wraps up the winter season on Sunday. Dwayne Orth, marketing manager at Chicopee, said he won’t have final numbers tabulated until next week, but it’s been a good season for the resort.
Despite a week of sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-teens, all runs were open and busy during March Break. Last weekend’s warm rain knocked the snow cover back from 45 centimetres to 35 centimetres, but that was still plenty to allow people to hit the slopes.
“The key is we built up the base when temperatures were cold and we were able to make snow,” Orth said. “The rain and warm temperatures are the worst things you can have. One or the other you can usually fight off a little bit.”
Orth said people often don’t realize that the ski slopes are still snow-covered long after the snow has melted from backyards.
The resort faces the opposite problem at the start of winter. As soon as an inch or two of snow has fallen, people are champing at the bit to get skiing, before Chicopee has had a chance to get that base established.
“We need a 20 to 25 cm base to open; a couple of inches doesn’t cut it,” Orth said.
What has helped the past two years is the inclusion of a webcam on Chicopee’s website, allowing people to see the ski conditions for themselves in real time. The webcam was moved to a more prominent place on the resort’s website this year, and saw a surge in activity.
Chicopee also wrapped up its Ski Down Wednesday fundraising campaign on Mar. 10, raising $25,225 for Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region. The resort runs the campaign in partnership with DAVE FM, offering discounted skiing and snowboarding and donating $5 from each full day lift ticket to Women’s Crisis Services.
“We understand that skiing can be a little expensive for families, so we’ve picked a day and invited people to come out and ski or snowboard a little cheaper,” Orth said. “It’s a win for us, a win for the community, and obviously a win for Women’s Crisis Services.”
Once the ski season winds down, preparations ramp up for “green season” activities like disc golf, mountain biking, tennis and beach volleyball. In the meantime, the chalet is busy with weddings, banquets and corporate events.
“We don’t really shut down per se, we just transition from the winter outdoor season to the green outdoor season,” Orth said.
And plans for the next winter season are already underway; the resort is encouraging people to get winter memberships for next year before the HST kicks in and the price goes up.