Early season snowfall a blessing for ski hills, Calgary businesses

Early season snowfall a blessing for ski hills, Calgary businesses

For some Calgarians, the snow may have arrived too soon, with the first dusting hitting Alberta in late September — but for some ski hills, the snow is a blessing and giving some businesses a big boost.

At Nakiska Ski Area, snowmaking is already underway.

Thirty snowguns run day and night, and recently got some help from the skies. The base received more than 25 centimetres Tuesday, according to the ski area.

Nakiska’s general manager Jan Sekerak said the early snowfall is both a gift for the hills and for skiers and snowboarders. He said the September snowfall was uncommon and was one of their earlier starts to the snowmaking season.

“We got extremely lucky because Mother Nature gave us some snow and gave us some cold weather,” Jan Sekerak said Wednesday.

Sekerak said the cooler temperatures made for the perfect conditions to start up the snowguns. The fresh powder blending with the man-made snow makes for a better ski hill, he added.

“This was a very serious cold spell: -16 C at night and -6 C now, which is good… Natural snow mixes very well with man-made snow and it makes the skiing and snowboarding much better,” he said.

Nakiska is expected to officially open the first weekend of November, but with the extra dusting of snow and cooler temperatures, the opening date could be earlier, officials hinted.

“It has to do with not jinxing the whole thing. I think this year there will be a nice surprise for the public but I will not tell you when,” Sekerak said with a smile.

At Nakiska Ski Area, the snowmaking is already underway.

“[The snow] certainly gets us excited. Our staff are chomping at the bit to get going, that’s for sure,” said Simon Moffatt, director of sales and marketing with Mount Norquay.

“That really comes down to Mother Nature co-operating with some cooler temperatures for snowmaking,” he said.

The snow is also good news for sporting goods store Mountain Cultures in northwest Calgary.

Owner Jay Vaughn said the early snow is a blessing at a time of year when sales tend to be slower. Vaughn said when the snow falls, people start thinking about outdoor activities and get their skiing and snowboarding gear ready.

“We definitely saw customers get very excited, bringing in their skies to get waxed and tuned… More people are just getting that itching feeling to get out there,” he said.
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