Antoine Mountain rescheduled to open early January

·3 min read

Antoine Mountain in Mattawa won’t open until Jan. 9 at the earliest due to the Province of Ontario temporarily closing ski hills along with other business as it battles the COVID-19 pandemic.

The popular destination with 630-foot vertical and 15 runs, including one just under three kilometres long, was getting set for a Boxing Day opening to kick off what looks like a potential banner year.

The ski hill has planned many changes to how it operates to help prevent the spread of the virus that has killed almost 15,000 people this year.

“The phone has been ringing off the hook,” Sarina Goad, the ski resort's head of social media and marketing, said in a news report just last week.

Everybody is looking for a way to deal with the stress while also searching for fresh air and exercise, Goad said, “and skiing is the best way to get it.”

With early snowfalls this year, passes went on sale Dec. 12 in anticipation of the Dec. 26 opening with the marketing pitch you can pick up your pass and go straight to the lift without going inside this year.

Masks are required in the chalet, outside in line for the lift, and while riding the lift. People who arrive together are encouraged to keep a bubble of four on the lift while two people who are not acquainted can ride on the opposite side of the chair.

Some changes have been made to how tickets are sold to help reduce interactions.

"We are encouraging all ticket sales to be done upon arrival to help with speedy ticket sales lines. Only season pass holders can use their pass to skip the ticket line and head straight to the chairlift. All guests are to sign in using the QR code at the ticket entrance door, and chairlift line for contactless tracing."

Food and drinks are still available in the chalet, where tables are spaced apart for 30-minute meal breaks. More tables for breaks are set up in the back of the rental building.

“It’s all grab-and-go items (on the menu) for faster flow,” Goad said.

Two outdoor warming areas with fire pits have been established to help offset the reduction of numbers allowed inside.

Goad said one downside is the 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. hours of the chalet, which eliminates the traditional social gatherings people are accustomed to after a day of skiing.

“For this season, anyway,” she said of the early closing hours.

Antoine Mountain boasts a new Doppemayr chair lift with vast vistas in every direction as the ski hill is located in the Laurentian Mountains between two elevated peaks at 640 and 730 vertical feet.

Goad said every season since re-opening in February 2015 has been getting better and they were doing “great” last year before having to close before March Break due to the pandemic.

Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada.

Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca