Sunny slopes boost Shames recovery

Beautiful weather, lots of powder and earlier opening boosted revenue recovery at Shames Mountain near Terrace BC after a slow pre-season.

Zyah Healey races Hanna Schibli at Mini Rippers on Shames Mountain Jan. 3-4.

Beautiful weather, lots of sparkling powder and earlier opening boosted Shames Mountain revenue to catch up after a slow pre-season.

“Things on the mountain were fantastic over the holidays,” said Christian Théberge, general manager of My Mountain Co-op, the non-profit which runs Shames.

“With the inversion we had, it was warmer up on the mountain than in town 5-10 degrees at times. It was sunny with no wind, [and] full parking lots,” he said.

Despite the activity, the holidays did not put the ski hill ahead economically, rather it caught them up after a slow pre-season, down $100,000 or 10 per cent of the usual revenue. The ski hill typically generates one third of its annual income in the pre-season through corporate and season passes, ticket books, and gift certificates.

“I think a lot of people that did not buy passes because of last season’s conditions and this summer’s El Nino and no-snow forecasts, decided to buy passes when they saw the winter starting, so good,” said Théberge. “We’re just caught up to where we should be.”

Due to earlier snowfall, Shames Mountain was able to open 10 days earlier than last season, and had five more operating days.

New Year’s Day, with free passes and admission via food donations, drew up to 600 people and generated two truck loads of non-perishables to re-stock the food bank’s shelves following Christmas.

Shames’ slopes boast about 1.5 metres of snow at mid-mountain, and cold temperatures are keeping the snow at that level, despite clear skies and sunshine.

The renovated kitchen is also a huge success, cutting wait times by more than half, increasing production and improving conditions for kitchen staff, who now have space to prepare food during the day, cutting down their long work days by two to six hours.

“I would have never thought it would have worked out this well…Huge thanks to everybody involved,” said Théberge.

The new seats on the chair lift also boost comfort for those on the hill, and people are very appreciative, he said.

“We’re no longer worrying about major things that have to be fixed, we’re now turning our attention to details, which is beautiful,” he said. “I don’t know how this could have happened without the help of all the volunteers.”

Mini Rippers races

Mini Rippers Races at the Bunny Hill on Jan. 3-4 drew out 53 young skiers and two snowboarders, 31 on Sat. and 22 Sun.

“It was a beautiful weekend for racing,” said Angie Healey, board member of Shames Mountain Ski and Snowboard Club. “The warmer inversion temperatures were perfect for the young competitors.” Results as follows:

Saturday:

Boys 7-10: 1st Cooper Magnusson, 2nd Luke McGee, 3rd Ryan Magnusson.

Girls 7-10: 1st Farah Defritas (also 1st overall with 11.24 sec), 2nd Oasis Cleaveland, 3rd Emily Kenny.

Boys 6 & under: 1st Dominic Puglas, 2nd John MacCormac.

Girls 6 and under: 1st Zyah Healey, 2nd Kaylee McCormick, 3rd Eliza Skimson.

Snowboard: Jordan Talstra.

Sunday:

Boys 7-10: 1st Brome Hansen (also 1st overall with 11.44 sec), 2nd Wade Stewart.

Girls 7-10 Hanna Schibli (2nd overall with 11.49 sec), 2nd Alexis Talstra, 3rd Danielle Weary.

Boys 6 & under: 1st Callum Stewart, 2nd Macgregor Cambright, 3rd Graeme Weary.

Girls 6 & under: 1st Ava Geier, 2nd Zyah Healey, 3rd Kaylee McCormick.

Snowboard: Alexis Talstra.