After a month of frigid temperatures in the Rockies, an Environment Canada forecast for colder than typical weather in March is good news for ski resort operators hoping to extend the season with packs of spring skiers. Beat Feuz, of Switzerland, soars down the course during the men’s World Cup downhill ski race in Lake Louise, Alta., on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Canadian ski resorts upbeat despite extreme weather experiences this winter

The bitterly cold weather has been seen to varying degrees across Canada

After a month of frigid temperatures in the Rockies, an Environment Canada forecast for colder than typical weather in March is good news for ski resort operators hoping to extend the season with packs of spring skiers.

Meanwhile, in Ontario and Quebec, ski resorts are coping with high winds and snow this week after rain dampened activity for some over the key Christmas holiday season.

Through the first 24 days of February, mean temperatures at Banff National Park — home to Norquay and Sunshine Village ski areas — averaged minus 17.9 C, about 10 degrees colder than historic norms, according to Environment Canada.

The bitterly cold weather has been seen to varying degrees across Canada and resulted in unusually big February snowstorms in Vancouver and Victoria, said David Phillips, chief climatologist for Environment Canada.

He added March is also looking like a cold month.

“Clearly what that means is that the ski season will continue, with the attractiveness that the sun will be high in the sky and there longer, but the snow you’ve got now isn’t going to disappear,” he said.

In west Calgary, the Canada Olympic Park ski hill was closed for three days in early February because of skier safety concerns due to extreme cold, but it is heading for a season-long skier count at least on par with last year.

“Last year, we had a horrible Christmas holiday season because it was so cold and we had closures,” said communications senior manager Dale Oviatt.

“This year we had the great holiday season, and then this cold snap has certainly hurt us. We have to hope we get some warmer weather over the next five weekends that we’ll be open.”

He said COP budgets for 10 closed days due to weather per year. In Calgary, where warm chinook winds from the West can turn a hill of snow into a flowing river in a few hours, the closures are often because of warm weather, not cold, he added.

READ MORE: Back country adventure near Big White takes scary turn

Meanwhile, extreme winds forced Mount Saint Louis Moonstone, a ski area about 145 kilometres north of Toronto, to close on Monday.

The high winds from the west lasted a day and a half and raised concerns that the chairs could sway enough to hit the lift towers, general manager Robert Huter said. He said roads were also in poor condition.

At Mont Tremblant in Quebec, similar gusts forced the closure of one of its 14 lifts on Monday, said marketing director Jean-Francois Gour.

Both Huter and Gour said a busy Christmas period and good skiing weather on weekends suggest this season will be as financially successful as last year.

“This has been a really good season for us. We’ve been receiving more snow compared to the last year. We’ve had some rain, but have a great snow-making capacity,” said Gour.

Christopher Nicolson, CEO of the Canada West Ski Areas Association, said he expects this to be a “solid year” if the western hills are busy during March — his 92 member ski hills saw a record number of 9.5 million skier day visits last year.

“Most areas had snow for Christmas time, so that gave the industry a good start,” he said.

“The cold weather has certainly had some impact but hopefully it will be a delay in terms of visitation, while keeping winter top-of-mind in the urban markets.”

Both its western and eastern ski resorts are having an “amazing” season, says Matt Mosteller, senior vice-president of marketing and resort experience of Resorts of the Canadian Rockies.

He said the Calgary-based company is experiencing a significant increase in longer vacations from U.S., European and Australian skiers attracted by reports of deep snow at resorts like Fernie and Kicking Horse in B.C. and Mont-Sainte-Anne near Quebec City.

“February in Western Canada has been still strong despite the cold and that was most likely due to massive snow storms during this time,” he said in an email.

“The East was different and, while it experienced some rain, it mostly happened mid-week and snow would return for weekends.”

Dan Healing, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

VicPD unable to locate suspect following James Bay ‘stalker alert’

Flyers posted around neighbourhood warn of man being followed and a verbal confrontation

’Tis the season for holiday cheer with a Ken Lavigne Christmas

Enjoy the magic of the season with the region’s largest indoor snowball fight

West Shore RCMP looking for suspects after Langford site hit twice with graffiti

Police urge the public to report any vandalism they witness

UPDATED: Police raid 23-year-old cannabis compassion club in Victoria

Supporters gather outside the Cannabis Buyers Club on Johnson Street

B.C. to restrict nicotine content, bring in 20% tax on vaping products

Province will also restrict candy and fruit flavoured vaping products to adult-only stores

POLL: Do you support CUPE workers in their dispute with School District 63?

SD63 schools to remain closed as strike continues Tuesday

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 12

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Louis C.K. accuser ‘infuriated’ by Canadian comedy booker’s defence

Accuser says she did not consent to C.K. undressing and masturbating in front of her

Port Moody mayor says stayed sex assault charge related to ‘awkward date’

Rob Vagramov said charge was related to a string of dates in 2015

UBC conference faces criticism over speaker from Chinese tech company blacklisted in U.S.

The company that has been blacklisted by the U.S. over links to the repression of China’s Muslim minority

‘City that protects rapists’: Sexual assault survivor slams Kelowna mayor for defending RCMP

Heather Friesen spent the morning handing out flyers around city hall calling out the mayor

Use of force deemed justifiable in arrest of suspect after snowy chase near Nanaimo

Independent Investigation Office of B.C. reports on incident from late last winter

B.C. woman sends fight to reduce preventable medical errors to Victoria

Teri McGrath and South Okanagan senior’s centre members presented 150 signature petition to local MLA

Most Read