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'We're stoked': Castle Mountain Resort set to open, ski shops seeing sales boost

Many ski shops are ready for customers who are looking to jump onto the slopes following two years of pandemic restrictions. Many ski shops are ready for customers who are looking to jump onto the slopes following two years of pandemic restrictions.

With the snowy fall and chilly November, staff at Castle Mountain Resort are gearing up for an early opening this weekend.

“We’re stoked,” said Cole Fawcett, sales and marketing manager at Castle Mountain Resort. “As far back as we can find records here in our current day, this will be the earliest time the lifts will spin.”

Upgraded snow-making equipment is allowing the resort to offer a sneak peek weekend, the earliest opening on record.

“Our mid-mountain stake shows about 60 centimetres of settled, base depth, contrast that to what we see in mid to late march is often times flirting with two metres or more,” Fawcett said.

Huckleberry and the Green Chairlift, along with the Buckaroo Carpet will be open throughout the weekend, while crews continue to make snow throughout the hill.

This will be the first season since 2020 with no COVID-19 restrictions in place and capacity back to normal.

As a result, Fawcett says demand for season passes has jumped back to pre-pandemic levels.

“Our frequent skier card on the other hand – or our WOW card – has seen exceptional demand beyond anything we've seen this far out from Christmas,” Fawcett added.

The shift in demand is also being noticed in Lethbridge ski shops.

“The demand has been pretty steady,” said Darrian Walker, marketing and web operations manager at Alpenland. “We did see a huge boom over the last couple of years because of COVID, but now that team sports are back and people are getting out and about more, we're starting to see the demand return to where it was prior to COVID.”

After challenges last season with supply chain issues, Walker says supply has increased, but some items are still hard to get.

“It's been a pretty mixed bag,” he said. “Some brand name items are a bit more difficult to come by, some of the snowboards is a bit limited, but we have got a lot of what we've ordered. The biggest thing is when we run out, there's not a lot of stock waiting on the sidelines.”

Walker encourages those looking to get equipped with gear this season to start shopping sooner rather than later.

“If you need stuff and something not too specific, we can definitely get it, it's a good time to come in now and beat that rush,” Walker said.

Castle Mountain Resort will host its sneak peek Saturday and Sunday, with the resort closing next week to prepare for its official opening day on Dec. 2.

As for other ski hills in the area, Fernie Alpine Resort is set to open on Dec. 3. Pass Powder Keg in Blairmore opened on Nov. 19, with only Friday and Saturday operations currently running. And, Kimberley Alpine Resort has a tentative date of Dec. 16.

A full list of other locations can be found here. Top Stories

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