Canyon Ski Area to operate as negotiations continue

Operators of Canyon Ski Area are excited to announce several new changes as they prepare to open their 42nd season.

Sonia Hand

Sonia Hand

Operators of Canyon Ski Area are excited to announce several new changes as they prepare to open their 42nd season.

While a sale of the hill remains pending between Lorraine and Karl Martinek and potential purchasers City of Red Deer and Red Deer County, Canyon will open this fall with much anticipation from skiers and boarders.

“There’s been lots of interest as to whether the ski season was going to happen or not, especially as winter gets closer,” said Lorraine Martinek from the hill 10 minutes east of Red Deer.

Some operational and program changes and equipment upgrades have been made.

Sonia Hand, the eldest daughter of the Martineks, will officially take over as general manager. Karl and Lorraine will stay on as consultants.

Canyon has renovated its snowmaking system, boosting capacity by 40 per cent.

The hill is also adding new rails and other upgrades to the snowboard park.

“We’re also renovating our office and doing lots of little things to make it a more interesting ski season,” Martinek said.

Canyon, Alberta’s largest non-mountain ski area, typically opens around the end of November. It boasts more than 160 metres of vertical, plus 13 runs and five lifts.

The lifts are ready for their annual inspections by provincial government and insurance representatives, Martinek said.

Canyon will also unveil a program for intermediate boarders aged seven to 14.

“We’ve had lots of requests for that, particularly from parents who want us to teach their kids new things and safely,” Martinek said.

In the past, Canyon only had a beginners program for snowboarders.

Since April, the two municipalities have been working behind closed doors on a deal to buy the 240-acre property from the Martineks, who wish to retire. The sale price has not been revealed, but the facility had earlier been listed for sale at $3.1 million.

“We’re still working with the city and the county very closely and we are hopeful of a favourable solution for everyone,” Martinek said. “When you are dealing with two municipalities and the government, you need to ensure everything is done the way it needs to be done. It’s a pretty complicated deal.”

Martinek expects an announcement will be made early in the new year. City and council officials have remained mum so far, citing confidentiality.

“The due diligence wasn’t going to be done in time for the (season opening) . . . so we’ll continue operating it,” Martinek said.

The family-run business includes youngest daughter Kristina Martinek, who serves as indoor operations supervisor and food and beverage manager. Son Curtis Martinek takes care of the grooming part time. Hand’s husband Jason is the outdoor operations manager.

Season passes are on sale until Oct. 15 at a discounted rate. Anyone aged 13 and up can get a pass for $455, those 12 and under will pay $375. Children five and under will be charged $115 (if a parent buys a membership, then the child is free).

After Oct. 15, season passes will rise about 10 per cent.

The season generally closes around April 1.

For more information, visit www.canyonski.net or call 403-346-7003.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com