Community and teamwork key for Shames Mountain ski hill

Shames Mountain will have a new general manager this year, as Christian Theberge takes the reins at the ski hill.

Here is Christian Theberge

Shames Mountain will have a new general manager this year, as Christian Theberge takes the reins at the ski hill.

With plenty of experience on the slopes, Theberge has been in the ski business for 15 years – working at ski hills from Quebec to British Columbia.

His most recent position was as the general manager for the non-profit ski hill Phoenix Mountain in Grand Forks B.C.

Hired by My Mountain co-operative, Theberge’s experience will come in handy this season, as Shames Mountain gets set to change hands from former owners, Shames Mountain Ski Corp., to My Mountain Co-op, Nov. 15, who will run the hill as a non-profit business.

Theberge is pleased with his move, saying Shames Mountain was the right fit for him.

“It’s (Phoenix Mountain) similar to here, you’re talking about a smaller market,” he explained.

He says his focus for the new season will be on families.

“A younger generation, it goes with sustainability,” Theberge  explained. “We can only continue as long as we have young skiers coming in.”

He said the ski hill has new rental equipment, which will make learning easier, and will be offering a weekend snow bus that Theberge estimates to cost around $10 per person round-trip.

One big change for the new season will be the operating days of the mountain, which will now run Friday to Monday – one day a week less than last season.

Theberge explained while it may not be a decision that everyone is happy about – last year the ski hill was open Wednesday to Sunday – due to the high operating costs of the mountain, it makes sense.

“We are trying to make the mountain sustainable,” he explained.

And Theberge said one big part of that sustainability has been community involvement, which he calls huge – as people have been donating their time and equipment almost every Sunday at the hill, and businesses are selling to the mountain at significant reductions in cost.

“These (volunteers) are all aspects that are going to make the mountain survive,” Theberge said, pointing out it is a luxury to have a world-class calibre ski hill right in your backyard.

“It’s incredible,” he said.

And in regards to any concerns about Shames Mountain’s shift to a non-profit ski hill, Theberge said he is very confident.

“We don’t have any concerns,” he said. “We are operating.”

There is also a new ski school director, Chance Healey, who was informally in that role already.

Healey, who has been involved at Shames Mountain in one capacity or another since 1992, said the biggest change this year on the mountain is the feeling of positivity.

“We have had some rough times in the past,” he said. “But with the new My Mountain Co-op, it gives us a new opportunity to start fresh again with what a modern day ski resort should be offering to the public.”

Part of that, he explained, is taking programs that have been in place on the hill for years and adding structure, organization and professionalism.

“It is much more organized,  we’re doing it as a unified group instead of in the past (where) we have been separate entities sometimes,” Healey said.

He has organized camps and classes which will take place throughout the season and guide young and adult learners through whichever phase or skill level they are at with skiing and snowboarding.

Weather permitting, Shames Mountain is set to open on Dec. 9. Theberge expects to run until Easter weekend.

Skiers are invited to come and check out the mountain on its ski-for-free day, Dec. 16.

Just bring a non-perishable food item or an article of warm clothing for the Salvation Army and receive a ski pass for the day.

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