Luke McDougall hasn’t seen much in the way of powder since he started skiing over six years ago.
The Whitehorse native was all smiles Saturday as Whitewater Ski Resort opened for the season. McDougall moved to Nelson for the year to go to school as well as get some quality skiing in.
“I’m from up in the Yukon. We don’t get as much snow as there is down here,” said McDougall. “This is probably one of the main reasons I moved down as well, to enjoy the hill and all the snow.”
He wasn’t disappointed. Whitewater opened with plenty of snow – 153 centimetres of settled pack and 306 cm total snow so far – mild temperatures and plenty of excitement.
Kirk Jensen, the resort’s general manager, estimated just over 1,400 people arrived Saturday, which he characterized as above average for an opening day. Jensen was thrilled with the first day of the season.
“Excellent. Absolutely wonderful. Couldn’t ask for a better opening day,” said Jensen. “A lot of new snow the day before and peak temps staying cool so lots of happy people.”
There were no complaints from the skiers and snowboarders who showed up.
Peter Holton, who has been visiting Whitewater for 16 years, said Saturday was the best opening day conditions he’s seen in a decade. Holton, who’s originally from California, is a fan of the mellow vibe at Whitewater.
“A lot of terrain for just three lifts. … The busy places with the fast lifts get a little crowded. Slow lifts keep less people on the run,” he said.
Ali Schroeder is entering her sixth season at Whitewater. She said the conditions for last year’s opening day already don’t compare with Saturday.
“This one is way better than last year,” said Schroeder. “It was lacking in snow, for sure, and icy. It just got too warm. It’s a lot better than it was last year for sure.”
Jensen acknowledged local disappointment over last year’s conditions. He said Saturday’s crowds showed there’s plenty of optimism for the new season.
“It just kind of says a lot as far as faith of the winter ahead,” he said. “I think a lot of people were skeptical but I think they are believers after being up here today.”