Winter is here and that means Saskatchewan's ski hills are open for business.
The province certainly isn't known for its giant mountains but that's never stopped snowboarders and skiers from hitting the slopes. Even if the cold isn't for everyone, Don Williams at Mission Ridge in Fort Qu'Appelle certainly isn't complaining.
"It's great news for us," said Williams, the manager at Mission Ridge. "We were open last weekend once already. It's the earliest we've opened in quite a long time. That little cold snap in November worked out just great."
Despite working at Mission Ridge for 16 years, Williams said he does not ski and has no plans to start. He loves the atmosphere and seeing people enjoy themselves.
"Nobody comes out to a ski hill to be unhappy. It's just always good," he said. "Sliding down a hill at 40 miles an hour on two sticks? That's craziness."
Getting ready for the season can be a bit stressful but Williams said the stress gives way to pure fun. But getting the hill groomed means there needs to be snow, and that means making snow so conditions can be perfect.
In fact, he said they turn 38 million litres of water into snow at the hill. Mixing the water with a snow inducer called Snomax — which Williams said costs about as much as cocaine per ounce — creates better conditions than many mountains.
Lawrence Blouin has worked as the general manager at Table Mountain for more than 30 years. The hill near the Battlefords is in good shape this year.
Two years ago the hill was not open until December 18, but in the first part of December Blouin said 70 per cent of the runs are open.
Both hills will stay open for as long as they can, but both Blouin and Williams said they are at the beck-and-call of the weather.