Big White Ski Re­sort big­ger than ever

The Daily Courier - - OUTDOORS -

Whether you are the longterm VP, the rel­a­tively new guy at Big White Ski Re­sort or some­one who just bought a sea­son pass, ev­ery­one is ea­gerly look­ing for­ward to the ski and snow­board sea­son.

Michael J. Ballingall started his first sea­son at Big White in December 1985 as the man­ager of Snow­shoe Sam's for Jim Nixon, who was just taking over the lease from Mr. Sher­man.

At that time, Nixon also owned McCul­loch Sta­tion Pub in Kelowna and Whiskey Jacks at Big White, now called Ses­sions.

Ballingall then joined the re­sort op­er­a­tion and is now the se­nior vice-pres­i­dent of sales and mar­ket­ing. In spite of all those win­ter sea­sons at Big White, does he still look for­ward to each new ski year?

“It cer­tainly is an in­ter­est­ing ques­tion be­cause I was just go­ing to a ski shop in Toronto (dur­ing a break from a ski show), and the smell of new leather gloves and new equip­ment gets me very ex­cited,” he said.

“Ski sea­son to me has al­ways been, ‘what’s the lat­est and great­est? Can I get a pair? And, how fast can I go? The moun­tain has re­mained con­sis­tent, al­though the lifts get more tech­ni­cal and faster, but it’s the peo­ple that make all the dif­fer­ence,” he said.

“The vibe in the vil­lage is cre­ated by the new team mem­bers that we hire and train every year, so noth­ing is ever the same. And yet, Big White comes out on top, al­ways, as Cana­di­ans’ favourite fam­ily ski re­sort. This is what I get ex­cited about every year. New faces, same smiles. Fam­ily and friends mak­ing mem­o­ries.”

Nights are get­ting cooler, the days shorter and the first snow­falls have ar­rived, he said.

“The Big White team has been busy pre­par­ing for this sea­son, in­clud­ing our new Pow­der Chair and new skier tun­nel from the vil­lage. We’ve also been work­ing with the Easter Bunny and are de­lighted to an­nounce we will be ex­tend­ing our win­ter sea­son to now in­clude Easter.”

Ma­son Buet­tner is the rel­a­tively new guy who is the Big White com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager.

“Com­ing from Whistler-Black­comb to a fam­ily-owned and op­er­ated re­sort (in 2017), I didn’t know what to ex­pect,” he said.

“But I was pleas­antly sur­prised. Not only is it a great place to work, but it’s an even bet­ter place to live and play. I re­mem­ber be­ing shocked on the first pow­der day last sea­son that I could ride run af­ter run of fresh snow and get right back on the lift with­out wait­ing in line at all,” he said.

“I was used to rac­ing thou­sands of other skiers and board­ers to get to the fresh snow be­fore it was tracked out. But now, I can re­lax know­ing I’ll be rid­ing fresh snow days af­ter a snow­fall.

“My wife and I also en­joyed the sum­mer sea­son on the moun­tain. Sure, it has a slower pace than the win­ter, but it al­lowed us to get to know the com­mu­nity bet­ter and re­ally find our place. Look­ing for­ward to round two this win­ter.”

Among the many rea­sons to look for­ward to the sea­son are:

NEW POW­DER CHAIR A four-pas­sen­ger fixed grip Leit­ner Poma lift will re­place Canada’s old­est and “most pop­u­lar” triple chair­lift at a cost of $3.9 mil­lion. The new lift will in­crease up­load ca­pac­ity to 2,400 pas­sen­gers per hour, al­low­ing more skiers and snow­board­ers to en­joy the amaz­ing ter­rain on the Pow­der Chair. The chair is near­ing com­ple­tion and will be ready to ride by the start of the sea­son.

“Since we moved the Pow­der Chair lift line with the new lift, it cre­ated a new run called The Gen­eral. It’s go­ing to be some of the best fall-line ski­ing on the moun­tain,” said Buet­tner.

“I know the old Pow­der Chair lift line was a very pop­u­lar run for many peo­ple and now, it’s go­ing to be so much bet­ter with those pesky tow­ers out of the way. Our new run to­tal is now 119.”

NEW SKIER TUN­NEL Big White has in­vested $1.5 mil­lion to ex­pand the skier tun­nel on the Hum­ming­bird Run to 60 feet from 25. SUM­MER GROOM­ING, GLADING Crews spent the sum­mer per­form­ing $70,000 worth of sum­mer groom­ing and glading on the ex­ist­ing ski runs, creat­ing more of the won­der­ful ter­rain that makes Big White such a great place to ski and snow­board. This in­cludes the area around the new Pow­der Chair, bot­tom of the Ridge and the runs as­so­ci­ated with the area, and over in the Black For­est area.

NEW PISTENBULLY GROOMER A new $450,000 new groomer of­fers the most mod­ern alpine tech­nol­ogy for pre­cise groom­ing work and will be a help­ful ad­di­tion to Big White’s ex­ten­sive fleet of groomers.

NEW IN­VEST­MENTS ACROSS THE MOUN­TAIN More than $1.1 mil­lion in an­nual lift and ma­chin­ery main­te­nance; $500,000 in build­ing main­te­nance; $750,000 in wa­ter and sewer up­grades; and $150,000 for a new on-moun­tain shut­tle bus.

NEW EXTENDED SEA­SON Big White will now be open un­til April 22, 2019, for Easter. NEW CHRIST­MAS EVE FES­TI­VAL The Vil­lage will come alive with Christ­mas magic to cel­e­brate ev­ery­one’s favourite time of year. The in­au­gu­ral Christ­mas Eve Fes­ti­val will in­clude a Merry Christ­mas from Around the World photo booth, a dec­o­ra­tion sta­tion, let­ters to home sta­tion, a rain­bow bon­fire and a scents of Christ­mas booth, all with fun things to keep the whole fam­ily en­gaged and in­spired.

Along the way, you can en­joy carol singers, stilt walk­ers and jug­glers as they roam around the Vil­lage, or join Santa in the Vil­lage Cen­tre Mall for read­ings of all your favourite clas­sic Christ­mas sto­ries. But watch out for the Grinch.

NEW STAFF HOUS­ING It’s ready for staff to move in for the 2018-19 win­ter sea­son. This is the first of four build­ings around Gon­dola Way and will start a new sub­di­vi­sion in the Black For­est area. Staff liv­ing in the build­ing will have ex­cel­lent ac­cess to the Black For­est Ex­press Quad and Lara’s Gon­dola in Happy Val­ley.

GOURMET SKI WEEK The ul­ti­mate ski holiday for food­ies from March 4-7. It’s four nights and three days of ex­hil­a­rat­ing on-hill ac­tion cou­pled with de­lec­ta­ble events that will not only quench your thirst for Okana­gan champagne pow­der, but re­fuel your soul with mouth­wa­ter­ing culinary ex­pe­ri­ences. There is some­thing to do every day in­clud­ing op­tional First Tracks Break­fasts, group ski lessons, wine lunches, apres cock­tails and chef-hosted din­ners. Choose to do as few or as many group func­tions as you like. NEW MENU ITEMS AT THE WOODS This pop­u­lar restau­rant is back for an­other year with de­li­cious menu items to tempt you such as the brand new 14-ounce Pork Tom­a­hawk: flamegrilled, Ap­ple­wood-spice-rubbed and served on the bone with smoked pa­prika but­ter and pars­ley shallot chimichurri. Or the Moroc­can chick­pea-and-pump­kin stew with haris­sacharred grilled chicken breast. The much-loved fon­due for two is also back for an­other year, fea­tur­ing a three­cheese blend with or­chard fruits, nugget po­tato and baguette.

NEW MENU ITEMS At Happy Val­ley, Clock­tower Cof­fee Co. and Gem Lake: When you’re feel­ing the cold out­side, come in to sam­ple one of the beau­ti­fully warm meals newly avail­able at th­ese Big White food-and­bev­er­age out­lets, in­clud­ing tasty new Pho to Go at Clock­tower Cof­fee Co., mini donuts with cin­na­mon sugar at Sk8ers, Pop­kum B.C. farmed pro­sciutto-crusted rab­bit with an ap­ple-stuffed loin at Ket­tle Val­ley Steak­house, and five-spiced chicken let­tuce wraps at Moose Lounge. Plus, you can en­joy a variety of new veg­e­tar­ian op­tions at all those lo­ca­tions, in­clud­ing ve­gan tuna at The Woods.

NEW COF­FEE PRO­GRAM Big White is proud to in­tro­duce a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Tug 6 Craft Cof­fee Roast­ers in Kelowna, Its spe­cially-cre­ated Yard Sale blend, a medium roast that is Okana­gan-made, will be fea­tured across Big White food and bev­er­age es­tab­lish­ments, in­clud­ing Gem Lake, Happy Val­ley Day Lodge, Black For­est Day Lodge and The Woods. WASTE MAN­AGE­MENT PRO­GRAM

AT HAPPY VAL­LEY DAY LODGE In an ef­fort to be more en­vi­ron­men­tally con­scious and en­gage in so­cially re­spon­si­ble waste man­age­ment pro­ce­dures, Big White is in­tro­duc­ing a new pro­gram at Happy Val­ley Day Lodge to stream­line all waste pro­duc­tion. Big White will also limit use of plas­tic straws with straws only avail­able on re­quest. Keep an eye out for new sys­tems com­ing into place this sea­son. WA­TER BOT­TLE FILL­ING STA­TIONS Three new bot­tle-fill­ing sta­tions will fo­cus on re­duc­ing the use of sin­gle-use plas­tic wa­ter bot­tles. Th­ese sta­tions will be lo­cated in the Vil­lage Cen­tre Mall, Happy Val­ley Day Lodge and Black For­est Day Lodge, and will dis­pense the re­sort’s fa­mously fresh and clean wa­ter straight to your re­us­able wa­ter bot­tle.

SWEET END­INGS Award-win­ing pas­try chef Leigh Hol­uboff has cre­ated a range of new desserts at Big White. Desserts use Big White’s own com­mis­sioned choco­lates, the 68.4 per cent Alpine Noir and the 43.2 per cent Monashee Milk, both de­signed in Meu­lan, France, at the Ca­cao Barry O’R Noir lab­o­ra­tory by chef Rob Walker.

Desserts in­clude the Alpine Noir cream puff, the lemon rasp­berry tart and the tiramisu cheesecake bar.

J.P. Squire is a re­tired re­porter, but an ac­tive out­doors en­thu­si­ast. His col­umn ap­pears Satur­days. Email

Spe­cial to The Okana­gan Week­end

Crews work on a new four-pas­sen­ger, fixed-grip Leit­ner Poma ski lift to re­place Canada’s old­est triple chair­lift — the Pow­der Chair — at a cost of $3.9 mil­lion. The new lift at Big White Ski Re­sort will be ready to ride by the start of the 2018-19 win­ter sea­son and will in­crease up­load ca­pac­ity to 2,400 pas­sen­gers per hour. Be­low, Big White has in­vested $1.5 mil­lion to ex­pand the skier tun­nel on Hum­ming­bird Run.

J.P. SQUIRE Mak­ing Tracks

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