Winter’s finally here, and what better way to herald the start of a new ski season than by taking your life into your hands on the Wiwaxy 500 on opening day at the Lake!
Right on schedule, Glacier Express was the one lift open, and Wiwaxy was the one run open, and I’m happy to say that the crowds weren’t too bad. In fact, rarely was the lift line more than a few people long, and other than the usual crowd of over-excited yahoos, things remained pretty much in control. This was in stark contrast to last season, when opening day saw lift line waits of up to forty-five minutes for the same lift and run. Wiwaxy was actually in nice shape, and despite the fact that it was all man-made snow, the warm temperatures of the last few days had softened it to the point that there was little if any ice to be found.
It never fails – every year I am reminded of the muscles that had lain dormant over the summer, and even after a few laps on a green run, I still woke up this morning with, well, not exactly pain, but with the feeling that I had been skiing, and it felt great! It’s also funny that on a run you normally wouldn’t be caught dead on during the thick of winter, you can actually have a bit of fun. At the same time, if too much time passes before any serious terrain opens, that fun will slowly and surely turn to boredom as you pine for more of a challenge. Things are only getting started, so I’m nowhere near panic mode yet, and the forecast for Lake Louise (see link at left) is calling for varying amounts of snow through the week. Probably not enough to drastically change things, but you gotta start somewhere!
As mentioned in an earlier post, there has been a change in ownership at Lake Louise, which is now officially called “The Lake Louise Ski Area, Ltd” and is no longer a part of RCR (although it appears they’re maintaining an affiliation for the next little while). The following is taken from the official site of Lake Louise Ski Area, and can be found at:
“New Lake Louise Ski Area Owners Intensify Focus on Creating Magical and Memorable Rocky Mountain Experiences
|Managing Partner Charlie Locke Vows To Implement More Improvements.
LAKE LOUISE, Alberta — Snow is blowing, the papers are signed and the world-renowned Lake Louise Ski Area is officially under new ownership just days before the chairlifts start running for what promises to be one of the most exciting seasons in its history.
“For me this is not so much a business decision as a return to a fundamental passion,” said new managing partner and former owner Charlie Locke, who is unretiring from retirement to lead the Rocky Mountain resort. “My family and I are very excited about getting back to the mountains and reinvesting our energies to ensure Lake Louise continues to be Canada’s favourite ski resort.”
Mr. Locke has partnered with the former owner –Resorts of the Canadian Rockies chairman Murray Edwards — to form a new company to operate Lake Louise, which later this month will host the opening speed events of the 2008/09 World Cup season. The Lake Louise Ski Area will be operated independently of, but associated with, Resorts of the Canadian Rockies.
Mr. Locke said with additional resources now focused on Lake Louise, his new team will work to build on the tremendous visitor experience improvements implemented at the resort over the past several years.
Initiatives will include a focus on customer service, full dedication to superior snow making and high-quality grooming and enhanced après ski options.
“We understand that it’s about the whole experience and we’re committed to making sure skiers and snowboarders, kids, families, and young adults have the best time possible on the snow and after,” said Mr. Locke “In addition to reintroducing a quality terrain park with all varieties of features, we’re also looking at more dining options, events and entertainment.”
The ownership change will have no impact on 2008/09 season passes or other ski products. All multi-resort passes will have the same skiing and boarding privileges as before.
Mr. Locke originally invested in the resort in 1974, helping finance many of its initial lifts. He became full owner in 1981, and spent the next 20 years shaping it into the world-class destination it is today. Mr. Edwards purchased a 50% interest in the resort company from Locke in 2001 and the balance in 2003.
|Monday November 3, 2008″|
And there you have it – another season underway.
Lake Louise ski area was abuzz today – literally, as a Bell 214 helicopter carried the new towers and tower heads up to the site of the new Ptarmigan chair, which replaces the old lift of the same name.
From the looks of things, this new lift is also a fixed-grip quad, and will start and end at the same places as the previous lift. While the old lift had its drive station at the bottom, this new lift has its at the top, resulting in a more efficient lift that reportedly will use less power to run.
Will this affect my ski day, you ask? Well, it won’t for me, as I rarely venture low enough on the back side to use that lift. I, like most locals, am happy to stick around the Summit and Paradise areas, which is where 99% of the goods are located. As for those folks that do head that way, other than a cosmetic update, they aren’t likely to notice much, as the new chair has the same capacity and covers the same ground as the last one.
Either way, new things are always exciting, and these days there’s lots of talk about the change in ownership at Lake Louse. The local paper reported that former LL owner Charlie Locke has bought back half the resort, which has now separated from RCR, the company owned by Calgarian Murray Edwards that has controlled the resort since buying out Charlie a few years ago. Murray is the other half-owner, and the resort is now a stand-alone company, fully in charge of its own destiny.
What does this mean for we skiers? Well, nobody seems to know, although there’s no shortage of talk about things like building the terrain park up to its former glory and the return of the legendary (and currently closed) Sitzmark Pub, but I suppose that time (and Charlie) will tell. Overall, the mood seems to be upbeat, and people are excited about the talk of things to come. Me? I just want snow…