Conditions, cancellations combine for big opening day in Wentworth
© Matthew Veno – TC Media
Amherst’s Joel Boyle grinds a rail in the terrain park on opening day at Ski Wentworth Wednesday.
WENTWORTH – As soon as Corey Hunter learned school was cancelled early Wednesday morning, there was only one thing on his mind.
The 15-year-old Amherst resident knew Ski Wentworth was scheduled to open and he couldn't wait to grab his skis and hit the slopes.
"I’m lovin it," he said while waiting to get back on the ski lift with a group of friends. "We got here at about 10:30 and we're staying until it closes."
Hunter was one of about 300 people who flocked to the hill’s opening day, which was the earliest in years. What greeted them was about 15cm of manmade snow covered by fresh powder, some of the best conditions of any opening day in general manager Leslie Wilson’s memory.
“This is just the best opening day ever,” she said enthusiastically. “We have powder skiing, school is cancelled, we’re just grinning ear to ear. It’s absolutely incredible.”
Although Wilson said she ‘would never wish for school to be cancelled,’ she knew the possibility was there after hearing the forecast on Tuesday and cancelled classes means more youth eager to hit the slopes.
"We've been witting for this for a long time," Hunter said.
The hill was full of skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels either making their way down slowly, or cruising by tucked in at mach speed.
Although those benefitting from cancelled classes made up the bulk of the Wentworth crowd Wednesday, skiers of all ages were eager to get on the slopes for the first time this season.
“I was looking forward to this for a while,” 26-year-old Shubenacadie resident Ben Brown said. “I didn’t think they would be open as early as they are.”
Wilson said the hill was able to open early thanks to the snowmaking equipment from the 2011 Canada Winter Games. The top-of-the-line gear allowed Wentworth staff to take advantage of every cold day since late November to put down a good base of manmade snow.
“The quality of product we’re skiing on, it’s quite superior,” she said. “Particularly with this snow.”
The main trail, sissy, helter skelter and rose bowl were all open Wednesday along with the bunny hill and terrain park, featuring rails and boxes for freestyle skiers and snowboarders. Others will be worked on and open as long as temperatures stay cool.
“I’m taking this as a good omen for the season,” Wilson said. “We’ve never had a start like this where we’ve had this much snow and such good conditions.”