Let it snow, let it snow . . .

A “phenomenal” weekend snowfall was gleefully welcomed by downhill skiers at Red Deer’s Canyon Ski Area.

Josh Sims gets some air off of a ramp while snowboarding at Red Deer’s Canyon Ski Area on Sunday. Despite the chilly weather over the weekend

A “phenomenal” weekend snowfall was gleefully welcomed by downhill skiers at Red Deer’s Canyon Ski Area.

While many drivers and snow shovellers were cursing the knee-high snow drifts, ski area co-owner Lorraine Martinek was ecstatic.

“This is phenomenal, wonderful, fantastic . . . It’s like the olden days,” said Martinek, who hasn’t seen 20 cm (eight inches) of snowfall in one day at her facility for many, many years.

By 10 a.m. Saturday, about 300 eager-beaver skiers were already on the slopes of the Canyon Ski Area, east of Red Deer, which reopened on Nov. 28. “And our phone’s been ringing off the hook,” said Martinek.

The Canyon Ski Area is on regular winter hours for the rest of the season — hopefully it won’t be the facility’s last.

The city and county of Red Deer are still negotiating to try to buy the ski area from owners, Lorraine Martinek and her husband Karl Martinek, who wish to retire.

City manager Craig Curtis said on Friday that discussions are ongoing, and no decisions have yet been made. “Some initial options fell through,” Curtis revealed, but declined to go into detail.

The County of Red Deer had been looking at applying for federal funding. But a county representative could not be reached on the weekend for an update.

Lorraine Martinek believes things are at the same stage as in September, when the city and county asked for more time to pull an offer together.

“We gave them extra time and we are still waiting to see how things are progressing,” she said.

The Martineks have committed to running the ski area for its 42nd season this winter, and are hoping the facility can remain open under new owners next season.

Curtis believes the ownership issue must be resolved by the spring, in order to prepare for the 2010-11 skiing season.

“I’m relatively optimistic that some kind of solution will be found,” he said. “Certainly it’s a great facility and there’s a need for it in the community.”

The sale price has not been revealed. But the facility had been earlier listed for sale at $3.1 million.

General manager Sonia Hand, the Martinek’s eldest daughter, said skiers are seeing some improvements this year.

New rails for snowboarders were part of the upgrades, as was an expanded snow-making system with 40 per cent more capacity.

“We’re looking forward to a good season. We’ve already had a great week,” said Hand, who has various lessons, ski club dates, ladies’ nights, Thrifty Thursdays, and a Jan. 30 Snowfest slotted throughout the winter.

“Conditions are fantastic. They are absolutely delicious,” she added.

The Canyon Ski Area, with more than 160 metres of verticals, plus 13 runs and five lifts, is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays. (It’s closed on Mondays and Tuesdays). For more information, call 403-346-7003.


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