Skiing or golf? Spring Break Options Follow Canada’s Bizarre Winter

Brieanna Charlebois, Canadian Press

Published Saturday, March 2, 2024 4:32 pm EST

VANCOUVER – Bin Xie’s children usually spend spring break at ski camps, but after unseasonably warm and unpredictable weather disrupted much of this year’s ski season, her family decided to rent an RV to go. to camp in the interior of British Columbia.

Vancouver’s Xie likely isn’t alone. In Ontario, some golf courses are opening while nearby ski slopes are closed. Across Canada, many of the ski resorts that are open have been working to cover green space and make their terrain skiable enough to attract their regular vacation visitors.

Among them is Mont Tremblant in Quebec. The province has one of the earliest spring breaks in Canada, with many students starting their break on Friday.

Jean-Francois Gour, communications director for the Mont Tremblant station, said conditions have been variable at the complex throughout the year. This, he said, is illustrated by the fact that temperatures reached 9 C on Wednesday before falling to -14 C the following day.

“We’ve been through a real cocktail of winter weather,” he said in an interview.

Gour said there had been a drop in bookings for hotels and cable car tickets, although he could not provide exact figures.

The resort, he said, is still expecting an increase in last-minute bookings in March, when the resort typically sees an influx of visitors. He said he is working hard to ensure that as many slopes as possible remain open to skiers.

“Snow coverage is pretty good,” he said, noting that the mountain has been able to use snowmaking machines to produce the same amount of snow as in previous seasons.

Tremblant will have all of its lifts operating and aims to have up to 80 percent of its terrain open to spring break skiers, Gour added.

“We’ll see if the weather is indeed warmer than average and try to prioritize the main trails on the mountain to make sure we can keep all lifts open in the coming weeks.”

Daniel Scott, a University of Waterloo professor who studies climate change and tourism, said it has been one of the “strangest” ski seasons in recent history across the country.

“It’s not very often that ski areas have difficulty offering skiable conditions during March Break,” Scott said in an interview.

Resorts, specifically in Quebec and Ontario, sometimes struggle to open on Christmas, but would normally be able to produce snow in January and February to allow skiing until March, he said.

When one mountain region has poor skiing conditions, others will usually do better, he added. That hasn’t been the case this year.

“It’s been a strange winter, from coast to coast in North America, the United States and Canada,” Scott said. “This has been an anomaly that I don’t remember seeing, certainly in the last 20 years of studying the ski industry.”

He said this is illustrated by the fact that his local Ontario ski slopes, Chicoppe and Glen Eden, remained closed this week despite falling temperatures, after thunderstorms and high temperatures thwarted their ability to produce enough snow.

Meanwhile, GolfNorth Properties has announced its nearby courses will open this weekend as temperatures are forecast to reach 17C.

“That’s never happened before,” Scott said. “It may be a PR stunt, but still, the fact that they can and probably will be open during March Break and that kids can be playing golf instead of skiing – That’s not winter, (how) most people remember them.”

Across the country, in Whistler, British Columbia, skiers have enjoyed 110 centimeters of fresh powder.

The snowfall was a big improvement on the dirt slopes that skiers have dealt with in the resort’s lower levels this season.

Whistler-Blackcomb spokesman Dane Gergovich said the resort was grateful to have arrived before March Break, a “peak period” for the resort.

“We’re seeing a lot of families and travelers to destinations, so we’re hoping it stays the same, especially with these favorable weather events we’ve been having,” Gergovich said in an interview.

“Our hope is that we will see an increase in numbers as we have historically.”

He said that at this point in the season, 100 percent of the mountain terrain would normally be open.

“Mother Nature has certainly presented us with challenges this season. To date, even with all the snow, we are still behind on land supply compared to a typical season,” she said.

The resort typically stops producing snow at this time of the season, he said.

“But we’ve expanded it given the challenges we’ve had so we can work quickly to make up much of the ground we lost due to unseasonable temperatures and rain.”

He said the resort does not publish ticket sales figures and referred him to Tourism Whistler, which oversees visitation to the resort.

Tourism Whistler declined an interview, but said in an email that it has a “wide variety of activities and experiences available independent of the weather, so even when weather conditions are not ideal, we still have the ability to provide a great experience to guests.” guests. “

Xie, a Vancouver resident, said her children, ages nine and six, often ski at Whistler or Cypress Mountain in West Vancouver during their spring break.

Despite a recent spill of new powder on both mountains, he said his family won’t change their camping plans.

“Children can always find fun, (even) if it’s not skiing,” he said.

“I don’t regret not having had a ski holiday. “I’m looking forward to the motorhome trip.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2024.

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