Weekend snow allows ski season in N.S. to start Monday

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After weeks of warm temperatures and significant rainfall, Nova Scotia's ski season is set to start after a snowstorm blanketed the province.

"It's really Mother Nature who has the final say with any ski area," said Leslie Wilson, the general manager and president at Ski Wentworth. "Finally things turned our way."

Cumberland County got about 30-40 centimetres of snow over the weekend, allowing Ski Wentworth to open on the first Monday in January — weeks later than usual.

The resort typically opens before Christmas.

"Unfortunately, we're used to dealing with lots of obstacles in the ski industry here in the Maritimes," Wilson said. "We're always dealing with challenging weather so we're pretty resilient that way."

Ski Ben Eoin in Cape Breton hopes to open this week. Ski Martock hasn't finalized an opening date.

According to its website, the resort in Ben Eoin is aiming to open Thursday. Ski Martock confirmed on Facebook that it won't be open Monday.

Prepping snow, COVID-19 protocols

Wilson said Ski Wentworth has been making snow, but natural snow "makes a huge difference."

"It just really lifts the spirits and it gets us going on a good foot moving forward," she said.

"We still need a lot more cold temperatures so we can make more snow and get more trails open on man-made snow, but we'll take this, that's for sure."

Wilson said the delayed start isn't the only obstacle the resort has faced over the past 12 months.

The slopes closed in March when the province shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

By the time restrictions were eased, the snow had melted and the slopes at Ski Wentworth haven't opened since.

Wilson said the resort did open in the fall for chairlift sightseeing, which allowed it to prepare for COVID-19 protocols. Physical distancing and mask use will be required inside the resort's facilities but masks won't be required while skiing.

"The nice thing about skiing is that it is a distanced sport anyway. You never want to be more than six feet close to anybody. So that's what we really have going for us," she said.

"Out on the slopes, it won't feel any different when you're skiing."