Earliest start to ski season at Norquay in 95 years
CALGARY -- Skiers and snowboarders at Mount Norquay strapped in for the earliest powder day of the ski season since the Rocky Mountain resort opened in 1926.
Recent chilly weather and heavy snowfall confirmed conditions to open on Oct. 24, beating the last record set in 2012.
It was also the first ski resort in the country to reopen the runs after the outbreak of COVID-19 ground all Canadian ski hill operations to a halt last March.
“There is only one chair open currently, its still very fun to get out on the hill, and this is the earliest they’ve ever opened,” said 11- year-old Fergus Langer-McIntosh of Banff, after skiing through fresh powder with his friend Finn Shackleton,11.
“This is pretty amazing to be out at the ski hill so early in the year. Its pretty lucky that we live out here,” said Christine Wickins before she and her three children lined up for Cascade Chair, the only one operating on opening day.
Operators of Norquay tell CTV News that in order for public health rules around physical distancing to be upheld, daily ski lift passes are required to be purchased beforehand to ensure staff can plan ahead.
General Manager Andre Quenneville says skiers will be encouraged to line spend the day in a cohort, and staff will check on that in the chairlift queues.
“For now there’s no singles line, and people are okay with it, and as we open more terrain and more lifts there will be lots of room for people to disperse and enjoy skiing,” he said.
Masks are mandatory within the lodge, in any line-up and while on chairlifts.
Quenneville also suggests groups bring a lunch to eat near visitors parked vehicles in the style of a “tail-gate party,” as crowding in events in the style of “apres ski” will not be allowed.
As well, mid-week skiing is encouraged whenever possible.
Other chairlifts, runs and the tube park will open as winter weather conditions progress.