Snowflakes haven’t begun to fall yet, but skiers could be hitting the hills in Rossland as early as November.
Red Mountain Resort in Rossland has shelled out $1.5 million for snow guns from Italy that will allow ski racers to start training at the resort’s Legacy Training Centre before the official ski season starts.
Christine Andison, in planning and development at the resort and president of the Red Mountain Racers, says the investment will greatly benefit the local economy.
“The Red Mountain Racers annually host races, but last year, we had to move a race because it was an early season race,” she said, adding that while there was snow on the slopes, there wasn’t enough. “We lost the race and for the community, that was a huge hit. A race brings about 600 people to the community for six days. It is around $400,000 to $500,000 that hosting one of those races will bring to the community.”
Now that the ski resort will have a state-of-the-art snow making system, Andison says Red Mountain will be hosting two races this year, bringing nearly $1 million to local businesses during ski season.
Currently, the plan is to open the Legacy Training Centre to racers in training in mid-November, but Andison says there are discussions in progress about opening the hills to the public during certain hours.
“It will just be early season training for the first few weeks, but we are looking into trying to figure out a few options (for the public),” she said. “We’re not sure how it will work yet, but we hope to have a few openings for night skiing.”
Even if the resort is only open to racers for training, Andison says the economic impact on Rossland and Trail will be huge.
“It is literally bringing thousands of people to the community for the second half of November and the beginning of December when it is usually pretty quiet around here,” she said. “It is of huge benefit to all of the local businesses and accommodations. It is not only great for Rossland, but for Trail as well. The team hopes to train at the aquatic centre and places like that. It will be awesome.”
Having their own snow-making system is something that has been in the works at Red Mountain for nearly 20 years.
“Brian Fry, Don Stevens and Sean Valentine (former race club presidents) were particularly instrumental in starting this,” said Andison. “They started dreaming about opening a training centre for early season training in the late 90s. It has been in the works for a long time and it is pretty exciting to to finally see it coming to fruition.”
The early season training is of significant benefit to the ski racers on the Red Mountain team, especially by keeping their training local.
“Our team spent part of the fall training in France last year,” said Andison. “It is difficult sometimes to obtain the training space that you need because there are so many teams vying for training lanes.”
Having a local training centre also gives racers more days on the slopes and will hopefully improve their results during the official racing season.
The new snowmaking equipment hasn’t made its way to the slopes yet, but it is en route.
“The snow guns themselves will be arriving in about two weeks,” said Andison, adding that the hill is already being prepared for the snow system. “The lines are being installed as we speak. They have completed the installation to the top of the t-bar and now they are headed to the top.”
The resort plans to start putting snow on the slopes around Halloween or as early as it is possible. It all depends on the weather.
“Usually around (the end of October) the temperatures are cool enough in Rossland,” said Andison.
The early season training starts at the Legacy Training Centre on Nov. 14 and the full resort is open to the public a month later on December 13.