It’s a holiday miracle for Manitoba skiers and snowboarders.
After extreme drought conditions forced Holiday Mountain Resort to announce a pre-emptive closure for this winter season earlier this year, a team of new owners now say they’ll be able to open the slopes after all.
General manager Abe Sawatzky told Global News that crews are working hard to get the hill ready and hope to reopen Dec. 26.
“It’s an iconic place in Manitoba, a hidden gem, if you will, in the valley that doesn’t really feel like you’re here in Manitoba when you drive down there – it’s so beautiful,” Sawatzky said Sunday.
“Winters can be long as it is and the kids need stuff to do. And we felt it was very important that we try and provide that opportunity for kids and for families of all ages.”
The resort — located near the community of La Riviere, southwest of Winnipeg — had said in August it wouldn’t be able to open this winter, citing “unprecedented drought conditions” that had dried up water supplies needed to make snow.
Holiday Mountain was forced to close last winter too due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Sawatzky said the new owners, who took over operations earlier this month, had originally aimed to reopen next winter, but they expedited those plans after learning another popular nearby ski and snowboarding destination would not be opening this season.
“We just felt that it was extremely important that we put all the work in that we can to get it open this year,” he said.
Sawatzky said crews are currently focusing on getting the chairlift ready and snowmaking, a process he says has not been helped by warmer temperatures.
“That’s prohibiting us a little bit, but next week it’s supposed to cool up a bit and we’ll really focus hard on that again,” he said, adding that there are also small renovations, redecorating and painting happening at buildings around the resort.
“We’re pushing really hard, so we’ll see what we can do. We have a great team, a large team of people working there, and so we’re making great progress.
“We’re doing everything we can to open as soon as possible.”
— With files from Rosanna Hempel