With temperatures in the double digits, winter sports enthusiasts are out of luck so far this year. Green grass and rain mean no skiing, snowboarding or skating in the region.
At Chicopee Ski Club in Kitchener, executive director Bill Creighton says the local hill is well past its planned opening day, and it all depends on the weather.
“We hoped to, this year, be open on [Dec. 12]. We’d like to be busier,” he said with a laugh, mentioning that conditions are less than ideal for getting some snow on the slopes. “It is a very complicated process in terms of humidity, wind speed and direction, but in very general terms, if you’re down to minus-2 C, you can make snow, but it isn’t efficient. As it gets colder, it gets more efficient. Minus-6 C is pretty good, but if we get down to minus-10 C, we can make a lot of snow.”
The temperature is forecasted to stay above 0 C until New Year’s Day, however even though the club isn’t open for business, the staff are still testing equipment. The club was making snow last weekend when the mercury dipped below zero before warming up again.
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“We did make [snow] on Friday night, just to put some pressure on the system, to test it and see if it is all ready, and it looks like we aren’t going to be back at it until after Christmas. Polish those golf clubs,” he said, looking fairly optimistically towards the new year. “Hopefully, we will be making [snow] on the 28th, 29th, 30th and 31st. I don’t suspect we will be open for Jan. 2, but it will all depend on how cold it gets and how much snow we can lay down.”
With no snow pack, and plenty of rain, the hill is still moving forward with some of their wintertime plans.
“We still have gone through our hiring and training process. We’ve hired over 400 people, so they are all trained and on standby, but everybody has been told to go home and enjoy Christmas with their families,” said Creighton.
There are other plans, like the annual New Year’s Eve bash at Chicopee, which have been postponed for better conditions.
“We have about a $5,000 fireworks show (on New Year’s Eve), and it is a great fireworks show,” he said. “Without the skiing and all the families out, we didn’t feel that we would attract enough people at the last minute to get the whole experience.”
The party has been pushed to Family Day weekend, when Creighton says the hill will be open, and the crowds will be there.
“Everyone is around that weekend, and we traditionally get thousands of people out for it.”
Some of their skiers have already bought their annual ski passes and lift tickets, and even though the season is starting late, Creighton wants to assure them they can still get their money’s worth on the runs when the resort finally does open its doors.