Bustling weekend, good weather in forecast for Okanagan ski resorts

Conditions at SilverStar Mountain Resort near Venron, B.C., on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024. Submitted

It’s been a tough winter for ski hills in B.C.’s Interior, with a delayed start, low snowfall and bitterly cold temperatures at times.

This long weekend, though, could be a turning point for the industry.

With Monday’s Family Day nearing, and good weather in the forecast, resorts in the Okanagan tell Global News they’re expecting bustling crowds over the next four days.

At Big White Ski Resort, resort senior vice-president Michael J. Ballingall said the occupancy rate for the long weekend is around 98 per cent.

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“This is an amazing time of year for us,” said Ballingall. “We’ll be as busy as Christmas and New Year’s, and, of course, the locals will be showing up because we’re approaching a 200-cm base.”

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Six weeks ago, the resort had a base of around 150 cm. Since then, Big White has seen consistent snowfall, as have other regional ski hills.

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“All of our runs are open, all of our lifts are open. So this could be our busiest weekend in our history if Mother Nature cooperates.”

Ballingall added that this weekend is traditionally busy, as it also coincides with President’s Day in the U.S., and many Americans trek north to visit the region.

“With President’s Day on one side and Family Day on the other, we’re back to a good, 10-day stretch,” said Ballingall. “There’s a lot of pent-up demand to use Big White, and the kids are (also) out of school.”

He also added this: “Arrive early to get a good parking spot.”

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle go skiing in B.C.

In the North Okanagan, SilverStar Mountain Resort near Vernon is also forecasting a busy weekend.

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“Pretty much all of the rooms are full and have been for a while,” the resort told Global News. “With the sun out, we expect passholders and those in the Okanagan to come up and enjoy.”

In the South Okanagan, Apex Mountain Resort is reporting 100 per cent occupancy for the weekend.

“It is finally a good news weekend because we finally got the snow and that’s what everyone has been waiting for,” said resort GM James Shalman.

“I was just out skiing with a couple of clients just now, touring them around the mountain, and the skiing is really good. Absolutely fantastic conditions.”

Like Big White, Apex expects an influx of visitors — a scenario helped when 30 cm of snow fell last week.

“We haven’t had very good conditions all season, and we finally do,” said Shalman. “There is another month-and-a-half left in the season and everyone’s excited.”

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