The New York Times’ Christopher Solomon wrote a lavish 3,000-word tribute to the Kootenays on December 12, calling it “the heart of skiing in North America” and insisting it trumped American destinations such as Colorado, Utah and Lake Tahoe.
“He nailed it,” said Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism executive director Dianna Ducs.
“Reading an article that praises our area and actually understands why people come here to visit is so very rewarding.”
Solomon praised Nelson specifically in his article.
“Half the reason to come to visit the Kootenays is to hang out in Nelson, on the shores of Kootenay Lake — one of the most authentic mountain towns anywhere,” he wrote.
He also noted that Nelson and Rossland were co-winners for Powder Magazine’s Best Ski Town Throwdown poll in 2012.
“On Baker Street, the main drag, ski and bike shops compete for square feet with stores selling ‘metaphysical tools’. Yet these adrenaline hippies can ski deep powder way better than you can,” he wrote.
Solomon’s research for the article was completed in the winter of 2013. He described the backcountry as having an “embarrassment of riches”.
“Perhaps no place else on earth possesses such a wealth of ski options as here in the Kootenay Rockies, where the topography accordions spectacularly and winters of 50-foot snows aren’t uncommon.”
Solomon noted that the Kootenay region has eight Alpine ski resorts, 11 Nordic ski area, 15 snowcat-skiing operations, and nine heli-skiing operators.
His article, however, wasn’t all about math. It was also about the culture of the area.
“What makes the region feel so special, though, has less to do with how it skis than how it feels: the Kootenay Rockies don’t yet feel as though they have joined the tourism-industrial complex,” he wrote.
“The road less traveled passes right through here. Everything is a little more basic, a little less convenient. You have to want to come here, and to be here. The locals like it that way. I do too.”
The article described Solomon’s visit to Valhalla Mountain Touring. He described what he saw with poetic flourishes.
“This was classic Kootenay country: furry mountain flanks led up to wide-open slopes flecked with Christmas trees that turned into tall, whale-backed ridges. In the distance reared rocky peaks marked with rocky gullies,” he wrote.
During his trip, Solomon went skiing in Fernie with author Angie Abdou, who was thrilled to host him.
“Of course we’d like to keep it our little secret, but eventually the word was going to get out,” Abdou told the Star.
“I told him, when people from out of town ask if I ski, that’s not even a question. You wouldn’t live in a place like this if you didn’t ski. When you’re walking around downtown during the winter it’s the main conversation: how’s the snowpack? What are the conditions like?”
Solomon also visited Whitewater Ski Resort.
“I was ecstatic with the article,” said Rebeckah Hornung, marketing director at Whitewater Ski Resort.
“I love when someone actually captures the essence of a place. It made me realize why I’m so proud to be here,” she said.
“There’s been a lot of growth here in Nelson as a winter destination. It’s getting more and more attention in the market and the media.”