my Mountain News

Record-Breaking Skier-Visits Highlight Fantastic Year at Big White and Silver Star

Wed, 30/03/2005 - 12:00 am

KELOWNA, BC – At Big White and Silver Star resorts in BC’s Okanagan, it’s hard to figure out which is piling up faster – the signature champagne powder or the number of skiers and snowboarders coming out to enjoy the fabulous late-season conditions! Consistent snowfall and unseasonably cold temperatures have put huge smiles on faces of powder seekers from all over BC, Alberta, and the Pacific Northwest as snow depths increase to 240 centimetres (94 inches) at Big White and 205 centimetres (80 inches) at Silver Star. Both resorts have had as much snow for the two-week Okanagan Spring Break as they did during Christmas holidays in December!

To recap the season thus far, in early November, Canada’s national Nordic team enjoyed the best early-season conditions in all of North America when they convened for their annual training camp at Silver Star. Beckie Scott, Canada’s newly-crowned gold medallist, raved about the conditions… Consistent early season snowfall allowed both Silver Star and Big White to open in time for the US Thanksgiving weekend.

The snow kept falling through December and bookings were very strong for the Christmas holiday period as Big White and Silver Star had superior conditions to any resorts in Western Canada or the Pacific Northwest. Saturday, December 18 marked the Grand Opening of TELUS Park, a state-of-the-art ski and snowboard park contains a 17-foot high Super Pipe, 12-foot high half-pipe, rail park/terrain garden, a skier/boarder cross course, and recreational racing gates serviced by its own lift and lighted for night-time sessions. Silver Star took delivery of its new BR 400 grooming machine and winch attachment, which allows steep, moguled expert slopes to be groomed to perfection. A major storm on Christmas and Boxing Day enabled Big White to open the new Cliff chairlift to access its double-black diamond runs.

January featured generally sunny skies and unseasonably warm temperatures, though both resorts fared much better than some of their counterparts through BC and Alberta. Both Silver Star and Big White stepped in to host major freestyle skiing and snowboard cross events that had to be moved from Lower Mainland resorts due to lack of snow. January 10th marked a huge turning point for the Okanagan resorts with the arrival of non-stop daily air service from Toronto on WestJet airlines. Flights were coordinated to allow skiers and snowboarders from Eastern markets to fly and ski on the same day!

The February issue of Ski Canada magazine’s annual Best of Skiing in Canada awards cited both resorts for major awards. Big White picked up kudos for Best New Lift (Cliff Chair), Best New Terrain Park, (TELUS Park), and Best New Intermediate Terrain (Gem Lake trails). Silver Star was cited for Best aerial view of the Monashee Mountains (from the big-air ramps at Silver Star's new Airstyle park), Best Place to take Your Nordic Skiing Significant Other, and Best Place to Learn from the Pros. The article also stated that Silver Star’s Alder Point may be the best undiscovered ski run in Canada. Big White’s Sun Rype Bowl was named one of the world’s Top 84 Ski Runs by Great Britain’s Daily Mail skiing magazine, and garnered several “Perfect” awards from Ski Press magazine as well. Big White and Silver Star experienced record visits over the President’s Day week-long holiday, with vacationers enjoy fabulous ‘bluebird’ days. In early February, Silver Star announced (to much fanfare!) the construction of the new Silver Woods high-speed chairlift for next year, Phases 1 and 2 of the luxurious Snowbird Lodge accommodations, and a brand-new mountain bike park and trail system to be accessed via the Comet Express lift this summer. February set records for the most days of sunshine, and the snow base held up well at both resorts.

Miraculously in March, winter returned! The two-week Okanagan Spring Break (preceded by Ontario’s March Break) coincided with a series of storms that brought huge grins to powder seekers who had been thinking about mountain biking and golf. An excellent lineup of special events (both on the mountain and apres-ski) were put together by the Guest Services crew at both resorts during this period

Jim Loyd, Director of Sales for Big White and Silver Star, emphasizes that “our resorts fared much better than others in what was an unseasonably warm winter, especially in January and February. Our snow base never dropped below 165 centimetres at Big White, and skiers and snowboarders could enjoy over 90 runs. We hosted groups and ski clubs from places as far away as Nashville, Australia, the UK. The WestJet flights brought unprecedented numbers of skiers from Ontario out to our resorts. We had record skier-visits over three key holiday periods, Christmas, President’s Day, and Spring Break.”

For more information, please contact Michael Ballingall, Senior Vice President, Schumann Resorts Ltd. (Big White Ski Resort Ltd. and Silver Star Ski Resort Ltd) by phone at (250) 765-3101 or via e-mail at: mballingall@bigwhite.com.