Mother Nature came through for Kelowna-area ski resort Big White on its opening day of the 2018-19 season.
After nearly a week without fresh snow, Big White received more than three centimetres of snow on Thursday morning, giving the freshly groomed runs a nice skiff of powder for the 1,411 skiers and boarders who hit the mountain on opening say.
“Another opening day has come and gone, and this one really exceeded our expectations,” said Michael Ballingall, senior vice-president of Big White Ski Resort Ltd.
“It’s amazing how much fun three fresh centimetres of snow on top of an early season base can be for today’s customer. Smiling faces equals happy skiers and snowboarders. It’s fabulous to be open for another season.”
The mountain had three lifts running – Lara’s Gondola, Ridge Rocket Express and Plaza – and seven groomed runs for opening day. And once again, a group of four young locals camped out overnight at the base of the Ridge Rocket to snag a ride on the first chair of the season.
Though most of the day was spent in the white haze of a low-lying cloud, that didn’t deter the avid skiers and boarders from jumping on the lifts and giving their ski legs a work out.
The Carlson family travelled from Seattle to spend American Thanksgiving at Big White.
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Donovan and Kate Carlson, and their two young daughters Jordan and Emma, have skied at the resort for three years, but this year was their first year as season pass holders.
“It’s super family friendly,” Donovan said. “The snow’s great, there’s not long lines, and every place we stay we ski in and ski out.”
James Daniell took the day off work in Kelowna to make it to this year’s 0pening day. He and his father-in-law Dave Johnston have bought season passes for three year and last year skied 50 days – a number they hope to beat this year.
“We tried all the hills and we just liked this hill the best,” Johnston says. “There’s something for everybody … It’s a well planned hill.”
“I remember coming out here and being very afraid green skier,” Daniell says. “Now, I go double black (rated runs) and the hill just grows with me. I can go anywhere and do anything.”
The snow is a welcome change from last season’s opening day, the wettest opening in the resort’s history.
But this year snow is forecast for the opening weekend, with more next week.
Big White is planning a winter kick-off party, complete with a bonfire and drive-in movie, Nov. 30, and it’s annual annual Light Up Big White event on Dec. 1.
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