Big White opens slopes
Nicholas Johansen - Nov 19, 2020 - Biz Releases

Fresh powder on a ski resort’s opening day is rare, but that’s exactly what skiers and boarders got at Big White Ski Resort Thursday morning.

As the Ridge Rocket and Bullet chairs started spinning at 8:45 a.m. Thursday, a cheer rang out in the lift lines, welcoming the 2020-21 ski season.

While opening day was initially pegged for Nov. 26, early season snow prompted the resort to open a week early for season pass holders.

And with 11 centimetres of new snow and a 121 cm snow base, it was one of the best opening days in recent memory.

“When our patrol captain, who’s been here over 30 years, says this is one of the best (opening) days he’s seen,” Big White senior vice-president Michael J. Ballingall said. “I’ve been here since 1985, and it’s one of the best (opening) days I’ve seen, and those people who’ve been here longer are giving the double thumbs up as well. This is a great opening day.”

“There’s a big smile underneath my mask. Okanagan champagne powder on opening day.”

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the early shutdown of last season in March, but the resort has reopened with a number of new measures in place. Face coverings are mandatory for everyone on the mountain, skiers and boarders are encouraged to spread out while in lift lines, and only those people who drive to the resort together will ride the lifts together.

“Once we get the rest of the resort open, there’s thousands of acres up here for people to spread out and have a good time. We just take it one day at a time,” Ballingall said. “Just do the right thing by everybody because you certainly don’t want to be the reason we lose the season.”

Ballingall noted with last season’s early closure, there’s been some “pent-up demand” for skiing and riding for many months. And powder hounds sure got their fill Thursday.

Big White had one of B.C.’s earliest opening day this year, with only Cypress Mountain opening earlier, on Nov. 13. Big White will open to day pass users on Monday.

Meanwhile, Sun Peaks plans to open Saturday, followed by Revelstoke on Nov. 27 and SilverStar on Nov. 28.

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