Early-bird athletes slide into winter training at Yukon ski hill

Mount Sima in Whitehorse is again welcoming competitive teams who pay extra for early access.

Competitive skiers and snowboarders get a jump on the season at Whitehorse's Mount Sima

Mount Sima in Yukon isn't the biggest ski hill — but it's often the first to open in Canada. That window provides a unique opportunity for business. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

About 200 athletes were in Whitehorse this week getting an early start on the ski and snowboard season. 

The Mount Sima ski hill charges extra for competitive teams to get an early start to training. 

The hill's general manager Janet Hink says this year there are teams from B.C., Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.

"It's a big revenue driver. It pays for the snow-making that helps our season last until April, so we really appreciate the teams coming out," she said. 

The ski hill has struggled to stay open in recent years due to financial pressure, and has tried to find new sources of revenue. 

Members of Team Canada in Yukon

Jules Lefebvre, who is part of Canada's national snowboard team, is one those getting an early start. 

"This is our first day trying to get our feet back together on the board," he said earlier this week. "We have no snow yet in Montreal, so it's a big change to come here."

The Yukon government has invested in the hill and is hoping that competitive athletes visiting the territory can boost the local economy. 

One recent addition at Mount Sima is a plastic-coated ramp and giant airbag, which can be used to practice freestyle ski jumping year-round.

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