Let it snow: Skiers, snowboarders descend on Whitewater

Opening day featured a malfunctioning lift but no disappointment.

It was all smiles at Whitewater Ski Resort on Friday as the mountain opened for the new season.

Sleep always comes second to snow for Brad Scheepers.

He was among the first on the chair lift for opening day at Whitewater after hitching up the mountain Friday morning. Summer went on too long, and Scheepers was ready to break in his new board.

“I couldn’t even sleep last night,” he said. “I was sitting around, it was like 2:30 in the morning and I was so excited, I was shaking.”

Scheepers was just one of many who were eager to take advantage of the fresh snow. There was no sunshine, but a settled snowpack of 144 centimetres was all that mattered to anyone with their feet in bindings.

Stacey Haley, who stood out with her leopard-print snowpants, said she appreciated the rustic appeal of the resort.

“It’s not, ‘Here’s tamed runs and you can only go within the bounds,'” she said. “It’s like, ‘Here’s a mountain and we’ll get you up it, and go have fun.'”

Opening day wasn’t without technical difficulties — an electrical issue shut down the Silver King chair, leaving visitors with only the Summit lift and Hummer Handle Tow to carry them up to the peak.

That meant the lineup for Summit was longer than it normally would be. Haley said she wasn’t bothered by it.

“You get to hang out, see all your friends in the same line,” she said. “It’s hard to miss your crowd when you’re all in the same lineup.”

Louis Dionne travelled from Rossland to get used to skiing again. He’s skied for over 50 years, but Friday was his first day back since breaking his pelvis on the slopes just after Christmas last year.

After two runs, Dionne was happy to report no pain or fear on the trip down.

“Feeling all right. Still not walking good but I can ski pretty decent,” he said. “The legs, it’s going to take a while for the memory of the muscles to come back. You work decades to get good muscled legs and now it’s so long, that’s the worst part.”

The positive atmosphere extended to Whitewater’s staff. Kirk Jensen has been the resort’s general manager for five years, but he said he never gets tired of opening day.

“Never. It’s always exciting,” said Jensen. “It’s great to see the locals up. It’s a great community thing to get people up, even if they are only doing a few runs and socializing in the lodge, putting their gear in their locker and heading down. Or having a bite to eat and just connecting with friends they haven’t seen over the summer or since last winter. It’s a good vibe for sure.”

It sure was. Scheepers was giddy as he waited for his turn on the lift.

“Whitewater is so rad, man,” he said.

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