Usually, on a sunny, winter day with no wind, Optimist Hill would be buzzing with skiers, snowboarders, and tubers.
However, with this recent spell of extreme cold covering all of Saskatchewan, Optimist Hill had to temporarily close in order to keep staff and all patrons at the Saskatoon resort safe from the elements.
“We have to really be mindful of the cold temperatures but also the windchill factor,” Optimist Hill project chair Rob Letts said. “The area we are typically looking at is the minus 25 to 30 range (for closing), including the windchill.”
Letts said while they plan for one-to-two-week cold snaps within the budget every winter, this one, which is forecasted to last much of February, could take away a portion of business.
“In a perfect world we would be open 20 to 22 days a month,” Letts said. “This cold snap could delay us into the latter part of next week. That could take away up to 25 per cent of the days away where we could be generating revenue. We are not concerned.”
Global Saskatoon meteorologist Peter Quinlan expects temperatures will go up slightly as the week progresses, but not by much. This trend will continue through the majority of the month, he said.
“We will be seeing cooler air stick around at times,’ said Quinlan. “We will be hovering around the mid-minus teens and morning lows in the minus 30s.”
Letts said they won’t have to look into cut backs with the potential extended closures, they are set on expansion and moving from their recently completed phase 1 (second ski lift) and moving into phase two which features new additions such as a terrain park for snowboarders.
Letts said in a normal operating year, the hill is open to the public from mid-December to mid-March. With many meteorologists forecasting this year as a La Niña year, winter could be extended, allowing for a longer open season.
“Having Optimist Hill open until the end of the March through April, it gives people something to do until more things open up in our great province.”