De­light for down­hill fans

This week­end will mark the ear­li­est open­ing for Kamisko­tia ski hill in more than a decade

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - FRONT PAGE - RON GRECH

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.

RON GRECH/The Daily Press

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.”

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