Snow blows from skies and machines onto the ski slopes of Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, including Camp Fortune and Calabogie Peaks.
Ski resort operators are expecting a big return to the slopes for skiers and snowboarders in this first winter without restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re seeing the same kind of booking levels as last year, maybe a bit more, so that’s encouraging,” said Calabogie Ski Resort owner Paul Murphy.
He says that at the height of the pandemic, his ski resort was at 30% capacity due to restrictions and public hesitation.
“Those restrictions are all gone now and we’re hoping that not only will we be back to normal, but we’ll be up a little bit because of that pent-up demand,” Murphy said.
“Last year we saw an increase in skier visits to most resorts and this year we expect a further increase,” Rick Rutherford, president of the Ontario Snow Resorts Association, told CTV News. .
Rutherford says operators are reporting strong interest and sales numbers for courses, programming, subscriptions and subscriptions.
“There’s nothing but vibes of excitement all over Ontario right now,” says Rutherford.
Calabogie Peaks is currently training this year’s ski patrol squad. A four-year veteran on the team, Rick Levitski expects his job to be much busier this winter than last year.
“For avid skiers, these skiers came,” says Levitski. “What the resurgence has been is new skiers.”
Operators also say they have learned from years of slow business to improve the experience this winter.
“A lot of resorts sell lift tickets online,” says Rutherford. “You can always pre-book these tickets for whatever time you want to start.”
Online ticketing is an option at Calabogie Peaks, which also offers RFID passes.
“People want to buy products online,” Murphy adds. “They don’t want to have to come and wait in line.”
Murphy says if the forecast continues as expected, Calabogie Peaks is aiming to open its slopes on December 10. The owner of Camp Fortune hopes the hills could open next weekend.