What you need to know before hitting Quebec's slopes this season
Tourism Quebec is investing million to develop local ski hills and promote winter sports
Get ready to hit the slopes!
The ski season is underway and there's a lot to look forward to this winter, including a multimillion-dollar investment from Quebec's Tourism Ministry to update ski resorts in the province and provide better access to the sport for everyone.
Kevin Gasior is the Quebec ski areas association (ASSQ) ambassador, and someone who skis for as many months as possible.
He spoke with All in a Weekend about deals for skiers this season and things to look for this year and next.
The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: We went from bike weather to ski season in a matter of days, but how long have people actually been able to ski on Quebec slopes?
KG: It really snuck up on us this year. Some ski resorts have been open since mid-October. Some ski areas are calling for a 200-day season this year, which is almost unheard of. Over the last decade, I can think of once when the snow fell in November and stayed for the entire season. I don't know if people are happy by this thought, but it does seem like that's what happening this season.
Q: Is that because the snow machines were able to produce earlier this year?
KG: It's a lot of natural snow. Areas, say up in the Laurentians and some parts in even the Gaspé, have received between 60 and 100 centimetres of natural snow in addition to snowmaking capacities.
Q: What areas are open now?
KG: A number of ski areas are running. Opening dates are staggered. Since last weekend (Nov. 17-18), you've had areas in the Lanaudière like Montcalm (Ski Montcalm) that have been open. Mont Habitant and Mont Saint-Sauveur in the lower Laurentians have been skiing. I imagine it's more a question of staffing than conditions; getting the chairlifts ready, having them staffed, getting the people out there.
This weekend (Nov. 24-25) a number of areas across the province will be open. Eastern Townships are lagging a little bit with Bromont (Ski Bromont) opening the following weekend (Dec. 1-2), Sutton opening Dec. 7 and 8 and Owl's Head Dec. 15.
Q: We hear about millions being invested in different Quebec ski resorts. What kinds of improvements will we see this season?
KG: It's from the Quebec Tourism Ministry, to encourage winter sports and develop ski areas. They're putting in $476 million between now and 2020. Projects are being focused on four major sectors: snowmaking, modernization of infrastructure to create a better ski experience and chairlift replacement and the expansion of skiable terrain.
Ski Bromont is putting in $100 million over the next couple of years with the marquee piece being a hybrid chairlift, which is an eight-person gondola cabin with six chairs following behind. It already exists at Mont Orford. They're now going to have one at Bromont along with a new chalet at the top of the mountain for next year.
Owl's Head, as well, will have significant renovations. They're completely redoing their inner chalet. I believe that's why they're staggering their opening date.
Massif de Charlevoix is adding 60 mini houses and condominiums on the hill to encourage people to come to the area.
Club Med is on track, that's for the 2020 season. There have been some hiccups in the area but that seems to be going ahead full steam.