Hot start to the cold ski season at Smokey Mountain
'It's been an early season, a lot of interest, our numbers are way up,' says club president
The ski season is just getting underway, but Smokey Mountain in Labrador City is already off to a strong start.
Toby Leon, president of the Smokey Mountain Ski Club, said conditions on the hill have been good so far.
"It's been an early season, a lot of interest, our numbers are way up. [We] could use a bit more snow, but that's the luck of the draw," he said.
Despite less snow than he would like, Leon the hill had its busiest day in years this season, even doing some damage to the motor on the chair lift due to the usage, which he said should be fixed soon.
"The weather's a little warmer than normal, so we're hopeful we'll get [more snow], but we've had such beautiful weather on the weekends that I don't think anyone's noticed," he said.
We really feel the winter product is something that can be traded on in Labrador West- Toby Leon
Leon said visitors have described the skiing at Smokey Mountain this year as some of the best in eastern Canada.
The hill's Friday steak nights and open mic events have also been very busy, according to Leon, and are part of efforts at Smokey Mountain to diversify its revenues.
He said there are good opportunities for tourism in the area.
"We really feel that the winter product is something that can be traded on in Labrador West," he said.
The biggest challenge to building a strong winter tourism industry in the area, Leon said, is getting people to show up.
To that end, Leon said Smokey Mountain has planned a come home year event on April 7 to try and draw people to the area.
He added the recent economic downturn hasn't hurt the hill, as skiing provides a relatively cheap outdoor activity for families.
"It's pretty inexpensive when you compare it to other things people will do with their time off, so actually, I think that's been a big benefit," he said.
Smokey Mountain will mark its 16th skiing day of the year on Friday.