Whitehorse ski groups look ahead to 'super season' this year

·2 min read

More Yukoners seem to be interested in skiing and snowboarding this year and it's not just because of the 40 cm to 60 cm of snow that fell Monday.

"I think it's because of the COVID-19 situation," said Benjamin Poudou, ski club manager with the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club.

This year the club has sold 1,700 memberships.

At this time last year, they'd sold 1,067.

Poudou says cross-country skiing may be proving attractive because it's COVID19-friendly. It will allow people to remain physically distant and the outdoor trails don't have the same restrictions seen for indoor clubs and sports.

"After last spring, nobody knows what is going to happen," Poudou said. "Last April, everything was shut down but we were still skiing and grooming, and so I think people saw that."

A big snowfall gets things started early

Of course the snow helps. Monday's snowfall may have lead to jokes about 'snowpocalypse' and delayed travel but it's been favourable for ski trails and also downhill ski and snowboard runs.

Poudou said the cross-country ski club is already grooming trails with heavier machinery, which is early compared to past years.

The snow is also being welcomed at Mount Sima where crews are working around the clock to prepare for a scheduled opening on Dec. 4.

Leonard Linklater/CBC
Leonard Linklater/CBC

"We are hard at work capturing all this snow," said Sam Oettli, the general manager of Mount Sima ski hill. "If the wind starts blowing, it's just going to go on another mountain so we're packing it down as quickly as we can."

While one downfall isn't enough to open Mount Sima, it does create a solid base. Once packed by the treads of the grooming machine, this week's powder creates about 4 cm of snow. Oettli said Sima is still using snow cannons to create jumps, banked turns and building a "base," for skiing.

The work was delayed a bit this year because Sima hasn't been able to welcome pre-season training from Canadian and international athletes, a source of revenue in years past.

Philippe Morin/CBC
Philippe Morin/CBC

Like the cross-country ski club, Mount Sima will be restricting and reducing access to its lodge. The hill is working to install a heated outdoor tent to allow people to warm up while facilitating COVID-19 safety by remaining outdoors

Oettli said season pass sales at Mount Sima are above-average this year.

"It's going to be an awesome year. If this keeps up we're going to have a super season," he said.