Canyon Ski Resort had Mother Nature on its side as it opened for the season this past weekend.
The resort, located just east of Red Deer, held its soft opening on Thursday and Friday before officially opening on Saturday and Sunday.
“We need negative temperatures in order to make snow and we definitely got those, which made life really easy,” said David Martel, Canyon general manager.
“On opening day, because we had those cold temperatures, we were ahead of the game in our snow making. We’ve never had an opening weekend where we had three lifts open. That was a bit of a feat for us.”
The crowd was a little bigger than average on opening weekend, said Martel.
“That’s likely due to the natural snowfall we did receive. It’s the best advertising we can get,” he said.
While the heavy snowfall from the past couple of weeks brought people in on opening weekend, the resort is still dependent on a man-made snow base, Martel explained.
“We would probably need to see 10 of these snowfalls to get away from making snow, especially for areas such as the terrain park or some of the steeper runs where people turn harder. We need that base that won’t blow away,” he said.
It was a notable summer for the resort as it introduced the Canyon Coaster, which is Alberta’s first alpine coaster.
“We were able to have year-round staff, which was our biggest goal in putting the Canyon Coaster in. That made our transition into the winter season a whole lot easier,” said Martel.
“We were able to just flow right into the winter season once we packed the coaster up and put it away for the season, which allowed us to be where we’re at now.”
Canyon typically aims to open around Remembrance Day weekend.
“There’s usually an extended break for kids at school. We recognize in November there is a lack of activities to do, so we try to get open for that weekend,” Martel said.
The earliest opening on record was Nov. 8, about four years ago, he noted.
“We like to think we’re getting better at what we do. Each year we try to exceed what we did the previous year.”
There aren’t any new runs or trails at Canyon this year, but the terrain park “always has new features” and there will “always be changes” to the tube park as well, said Martel.
For more information, visit www.canyonski.ca.