RFID Gates

During the off-season, Baldy Mountain Resort purchased new RFID technology and ticket-checking gates for its two main lifts, above. That means the gates scan the passes of skiers and snowboarders so they pass through quickly to the chairs.

The Snow Gods came through with a fantastic gift as Christmas Week begins.

On Thursday, Big White Ski Resort reported six centimetres of new snow during the past 24 hours, 34 centimetres during the past seven days. Silver Star Mountain Resort had six in 24 hours, 25 during the past week. Apex Mountain Resort had four in 24 hours and 12 in the past 48 hours. Baldy Mountain Resort, which opens today, had 13 in the past 24 hours and 25 in the past seven days.

Cross-country ski areas had similar results with Kelowna Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Club reporting five centimetres of new snow on Thursday morning — “a fantastic day for classic, but may be soft for skate.”

Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre had 10 centimetres in the last 24 hours. Telemark Nordic Club had 12 in 24 hours.

Unlike nearby Apex, Nickel Plate Nordic Centre reported no new snow.

As for conditions, Big White had incredibly soft snow piled on a solid crusty base a week ago Friday while Kelowna Nordic was in mid-winter shape on Wednesday, our first outing on its lower trails.

The next Making Tracks update will be in early January with no Saturday editions on Dec. 26 and Jan. 2. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Sheriff and Constant Companion Carmen.

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“We are now fully open with regular grooming and great conditions on all ski and snowshoe trails,” GM Mike Edwards said in an email update. “Telemark now has an online store for selling passes and rentals, a service to make skiing and snowshoeing at Telemark easier to do as well as contributing to our COVID safety plan by reducing the need to come into the day lodge.”

Telemark recently received $10,000 from Nordiq Canada through the AltaGas Club Support Grant to help support its youth and race team development programs. “This funding will make a big difference in helping to grow our programs and allow more kids to enjoy skiing as a sport for life,” he said.

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Kelowna Nordic has announced its first-ever fundraiser with the KGH Foundation as a replacement for last year’s successful Cabin Cookie Tour which had more than 175 participants and numerous sponsors.

“We know things are different this year . . . well, a lot different,” says event organizer Lyle Nicholson.

“Because we cannot do any large group gatherings, we’ll be doing a virtual event, a week-long fundraiser on Feb. 14-21. We invite members to join us in raising funds for Kelowna General Hospital’s Advanced Stroke Care program. You can register on our Club Activities — Slide & Glide Fundraiser page at: kghfoundation.crowdchange.co/16343. For the low price of $10, you’re registered. The first 100 to register will receive a very cool Ski Buff presented by Kelowna Nordic, KGH Foundation and Nicola Wealth Management, our title sponsor.”

Skiers and snowshoers can sign in on the webpage, then raise funds from friends and family, he said. Each participant can record their distance (six, 12 or 18K) manually, on Strava or the new Avenza Trail Map and then post their results on the Kelowna Nordic Facebook page.

“All donations are tracked. Those who raise over $100 will receive prizes. Our generous local sponsors have donated wine, seafood, local produce, sports equipment, and dinners from local restaurants and boutique cider houses. We’ve even secured a steak dinner for four at The Upside Cider House for the top fundraising team of four,” he said.

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The series on the Okanagan’s downhill resorts and cross-country ski areas cointinues with Baldy Mountain Resort.

“This year, Baldy has invested close to $500,000 in infrastructure and other resort-based upgrades,” says resort services manager Christine Cuttle.

“We put in a new electrical drive and AC motor, and installed a new haul rope on the Eagle Chair. We gave the Sugarlump a new computer and we’re also working on the McKinney T-bar. We have installed all new electrical components and hope to have the T-bar running this winter during weekends and peak periods.”

“Baldy also purchased new RFID technology and ticket-checking gates for the two main lifts from Ski Data and upgraded the POS (point-of-sale) system with E4Soft. This will operate our in-house and online (ecommerce) sales along with allowing our guests to make reservations online/in house for snow school and rentals,” said Cuttle.

“All our season passes and day tickets can be done online. Our day tickets will require a first-time pick-up at the ticket kiosk (no longer available at the Guest Services building). But future day tickets can be purchased online — and are automatically reloadable — so you can go from car to lift, thereby avoiding the line-ups. Save those day tickets along with our season passes; they’re valid indefinitely for reloading.”

Baldy also introduced online reservations for snow school lessons and equipment rentals by booking preferred dates on the website, then going directly to rentals for equipment or straight to the snow school meeting area. Guest Services will handle same-day, walk-up reservations only.

The Baldy Bar now has a liquor license to provide off-sales during regular bar hours. The bar and Corduroy Cafe are now set up to meet Covid-19 requirements.

“The Baldy bar has a pub-style, après-ski environment that’s family-friendly while the cafe offers a variety grab-and-go and quick-pay to get on the hill. Unfortunately, due to limited occupancy, we’ve had to restrict our seating in both the café and bar to guests ordering meals. Home lunches are welcome in the outdoor seating-only this winter. We’ve also had to eliminate the cubby holes for storage and ask our guests to kindly leave their personal items inside their vehicles,” said Cuttle.

J.P. Squire, aka the Ski Sheriff, is a retired reporter. Email: jp.squire@telus.net