By Justin Seward
Hidden Valley Ski Resort in the Cypress Hills Provincial is almost ready to open up the slopes for another ski season.
“It’s shaping really well,” said Mike Ractliffe, head of visitor services for Cypress Hills Provincial Park and Hidden Valley Ski Resort.
“Mother Nature has dropped plenty of snow on us. We’ve got more natural snow than we’ve had the last couple of seasons. Temperatures have dropped over the last week or so. We’re starting to make snow again. It actually looks like winter out here in Elkwater.”
Preparation for the winter season began in October with the hiring on of staff and then in November, snow making crews arrive and start blowing snow as soon as the temperature gets cold enough, he added.
Ractliffe says the difference with the weather is the ski hill with either have more terrain open or less terrain.
“Mother Nature definitely helps but the snow making still has to carry on. We just make a fraction less snow because it can mix in with the natural snow,” said Ractliffe.
“We certainly need a certain amount of base and we certainly need some man made snow to keep us going for the season. There is a difference between man made snow, it’s little bit harder wearing than Mother Nature’s snow and it will last a little bit longer.”
There have been a couple changes in terms of programming at the ski hill.
“Our lessons are structured the same, so we still have a beginner lesson, which gives you a beginner ticket, all day rentals and a one-and-a-half hour lesson,” he said.
“It used to be called the Discover Package. Now it’s called the Learn to Turn Package and for people who have never skied or never snowboarded before. We’ve made that more cost effective. It’s $65 for all of that, that’s cheaper than it was last year.”
“If you graduate from that program, you can then buy three development packages which are normally $95 each. But you can buy three for a package of $175.”
Ractliffe says Hidden Valley has the ability to generate new skiers and snowboarders because they are more cost effective than some of the bigger resorts.
“We want to keep them in the education system so that they improve,” he said.
“Typically that’s the stumbling point. They get to a point where they have to go down the hill and they can at Hidden Valley because our terrain is not overly difficult. They can have quite a lot of success but when they go to a big mountain resort, they find that their blue runs are more like our double black runs. The mountain green runs are more like black runs to them and it can put people off of the snow sports industry.”
The slopes will open on Dec. 14.