Edmonton·Audio

Back to the slopes: Edmonton Ski Club reopening this winter

In 2017, the City of Edmonton terminated the Edmonton Ski Club’s lease after its board decided not to operate that year, leaving the club’s future uncertain after 106 years in the city.

'It was sort of a highlight of each winter'

Andrew Schietzsch performs a freestyle training jump at the Edmonton Ski Club in 2004. (Alan Schietzsch)

Skiing will return to Cloverdale this winter as the Edmonton Ski Club is set to re-open.

In 2017, the City of Edmonton terminated the club's lease after its board decided not to operate that year, leaving the club's future uncertain after 106 years in the city.

"It was a limbo thing," Caroline Sledz, a member of the board of directors, said in an interview on CBC Edmonton's Radio Active on Friday. 

Due to financial constraints and maintenance and repair backlogs, including a section of one of the ski club's buildings previously condemned, the board decided to stop operations during the 2017-18 season. 

This winter as the Edmonton Ski Club reopens find out what is in store this winter. 6:24

Alan Schietzsch, a patron whose family has been skiing at the club for several years, said he was disappointed when the club shut down. 

Central location

"It was sort of a highlight of each winter," Schietzsch said. "The beauty of the ski club to me is that it's right in the city, so it's not like you have to travel for an hour outside the city or for that matter, several hours. It's just a couple of minutes you're in the river valley and skiing. So for us it was a beautiful thing to do after supper or just for part of a morning or an afternoon and weekend."

Caroline Sledz, a member of the Edmonton Ski Club board of directors. (Submitted by Caroline Sledz)

After a year of upgrades, and work with the City and provincial government to secure funding, permit applications and its business case, the ski club will be up and running for the 2019-20 season, Sledz said.

Season passes went on sale this month, with a soft launch at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival last weekend, which shares Gallagher Park with the ski club as its venue each year. 

The club will have all of its lifts running this winter, and has replaced its bunny hill rope tow with a carpet lift for beginners. 

Half its lodge will be in use with space for patrons to put on gear and have a coffee, Sledz said. A separate trailer facility will be used for rentals and first aid. 

LRT construction

Sledz said the Valley Line LRT construction will not affect operations. 

"I can't see why it would," she said. "We're just figuring out whether there needs to be some fencing for example to really separate the two.

"And then the long term of course is that there'll be a stop near the bottom of the ski hill and so it will give people greater access to the facilities."

'Exciting news'

Amanda Cottrell, general manager for Misery Mountain Ski Area in Peace River, in northern Alberta, said the reopening of the club was exciting news. 

Posting on Facebook, Cottrell said "the Edmonton Ski Club not only has incredible history (it's been open for training since 1911!!) but also has a variety of terrain including great areas for beginners and some pretty steep stuff for experienced riders."

Because of the club's accessibility in the city, many people have been able to make it a weekly activity and build more skills, Schietzsch said. 

"It's just a terrific resource for recreation or for serious skiers," he said.

The club is not currently seeking donations, Sledz said. 

"I think we need to prove ourselves as viable again before we reach out to the community to do that for sure," she said.

They will be recruiting volunteers. 

"I think we've all been a little hesitant to sort of reach out to our networks to say, 'Hey, come on board with us' until we really felt confident that it was a go," Sledz said. "And I think we've really just reached that point so everything says that this is happening. And so I think now is the time where we will start reaching out for those additional resources. "

The club is scheduled to have a board meeting in October to elect new members, Sledz said, and will be encouraging new people to participate.

About the Author

Thandiwe Konguavi is an award-winning journalist, born in Zimbabwe. She is an associate producer and reporter at CBC Edmonton. Reach her at thandiwe.konguavi@cbc.ca or on Twitter @TandiwayK (https://twitter.com/TandiwayK).

With files from Chris Martin

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