Delight for downhill fans
This weekend will mark the earliest opening for Kamiskotia ski hill in more than a decade
Kamiskotia Snow Resort will open this weekend — the earliest it has opened for a season in more than decade.
“Temperatures have been the biggest factor,” said Eric Philipow, in his second season as general manager of the Timmins ski hill.
“Mother Nature really worked with us this year. Once it got cold, it stayed cold. We didn’t really get that flux of dropping to minus 10 and then going back up to plus 10 for a week. So that really got us going for two or three weeks straight with more temperatures in the next week really working in our favour. And then we’ve had two to three feet of natural snow so all of that together has really put us ahead.”
He also attributed this year’s early start the fact much of last year’s maintenance crew is back and their familiarity with what needed to be done provided a jumpstart to the snowmaking at the hill.
“We’ve had pretty much all of our staff come back from last year,” said Philipow. “Last year was rushed with me starting Dec. 1 and it was a bit of a hodgepodge group before that trying to get things started. So this year, everyone had their role and we started nice and early. Everyone knew what they were doing so efficiency has been so much better that everybody chipped in and made it happen.”
Philipow said for the next few weeks, “we’re going to do weekends only until Christmas break and then we’ll be open through Christmas break and then into regular hours from there” which would include weekday operations.
For the first weekend, the Skyway chair will be in operation and skiers will have access to most of the runs on the south and west side of the hill — the Kreiner, Boardwalk, Booby Trap, the Chalet run and the Sissy Schuss.
The Kreiner, Chalet and Booby Trap will be fully groomed. The Boardwalk and the Sissy Schuss have packed power and are described as having “early season coverage.”
Philipow anticipates the popular Downhill run on the east of the mountain to be in operation by “Dec. 22 if not sooner.”
Over the summer there were a few enhancements made to some of the runs.
“Snowmaking was extended on a few extra runs. We did make snow on the Booby Trap this year. And the terrain park will be moving back to the Booby Trap after quite a few years,” said Philipow.
“We also extended a bit of the beginner run across the chalet here to make it friendlier as you pop out of the cat track (flat path that skiers use to get from one place to another) … It tends to intimidate some kids when they pop out of there. We’ve tried to slope it out and extend it so it’s a little friendlier now.
“And we did move some snowmaking pipe to improve our efficiency.”
Philipow said over the summer they made some cosmetic improvements and extensive renovations both inside and outside of the chalet.
“We stained the exterior, redid the bathrooms, re-arranged the bar so it’s a bit more efficient, we’ve re-done guest services which was a pretty drastic change. Things like that, regulars will definitely notice.”
In addition to offering an early start for downhill skiers, Philipow said they hope to have the tube park operating by Christmas break — something the resort hasn’t been able to achieve the last few years.
“The tube park is coming ahead of schedule as well. It’s well packed down. So, at the latest, by the first Saturday of Christmas break it should be open which would be the earliest it has opened in quite a while,” he said.
“We’ve missed Christmas break with the tube park for the last number of years. So it will be a big deal. We’ve already received a ton of calls for the tube park and people are excited about it.”
Philipow is hoping an extended season and these types of enhancements will help drive up interest in season passes. The last couple of years, Kamiskotia has sold on average about 250 each season.
“There’s room for opportunity to grow if we keep doing what we’re doing by opening early and giving members the length of season they might come to expect and the conditions they expect,” said Philipow, who is a snowboarding enthusiast himself. “I could see that picking up in two or three years.”
Hours of operation this Saturday and Sunday will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Eric Philipow, general manager of the Kamiskotia Snow Resort, says, “Thanks to some great snowmaking weather and a little help from Mother Nature, we’re ready to open the Skyway chair this Saturday and Sunday. This puts us ahead of last year's opening, making this the earliest Kam has opened in over a decade.”