Western Canadian ski resorts booming while the East waits for snow

A reversal of fortunes is afoot in Canada as the snow continues to pile up at Western Canadian ski resorts while the grass is still on display on slopes in the East.

Canadian skiers are flocking west to enjoy the snow that so far has yet to arrive in much of Eastern Canada

The skier on the left enjoys the slopes in Whistler, B.C., while ski resorts in Eastern Canada, meanwhile, such as the scene in Glen Eden, Ontario, are still waiting for snow. (The Canadian Press)

A reversal of fortunes is afoot in Canada as the snow continues to pile up at Western Canadian ski resorts while the grass is still on display on slopes in the East.

The conditions are in contrast to the past couple of years when warm winters wreaked havoc at many ski resorts in the West, while frigid and snowy conditions in the East ensured hills packed with skiers and snowboarders.

Blue Mountain ski resort in Collingwood, Ont., north of Toronto, was all set for a Nov. 27 start date, but the snow just didn't show up — and hasn't in other parts of Ontario and Quebec either.

"We were all ready for the 27th; nature was not," said Tara Lovell, public relations manager for the resort.

This year could be the latest season opening for the resort ever, said Ms. Lovell, pushing past the Dec. 26 opening in 2001.

Blue Mountain has responded by reopening some of its summer activities like the rope course, zip line and climbing wall while still offering its usual holiday activities like live music, fireworks and wagon rides.

"Santa is still there with or without the snow," said Ms. Lovell.

Alberta, B.C. have plenty of the white stuff

The conditions are in stark contrast to freefalling snow in the West.

"B.C. in general has had an unreal opening start," said Cynthia Thomas, communications manager for the Canada West Ski Areas Association. "It was really amazing we had so much snow in November because I think it really mitigated those fears from last season and helped people get over that and book for this season."

The heavy snowfall is being welcomed at Mount Washington on Vancouver Island, which was forced to close early the past two seasons due to lack of snow.

"The conditions have just been outstanding," said Don Sharpe, director of business operations for the resort.

Mount Washington has already had over 300 centimetres of snow in December, allowing it to open its more technical terrain after a two-year hiatus and attract more skiers.

"There are a lot of people out that have been holding off for a couple years, I think we're starting to see them all pretty pumped about what we have going on," said Mr. Sharpe.

In the Rocky Mountains, the snow is also falling fast to the relief of resorts like Castle Mountain that were also forced to close early last year.

And so far, Alberta's economic downturn doesn't seem to have had an impact on the ski resorts, with Sunshine Village near Banff showing a 10- to 15-per-cent increase in ticket sales, says Lindsay Gallagher, marketing co-ordinator for the resort.


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