Sun Peaks opens gates for winter season

Mason Buettner & Travis Persaud, Contributors Ω

Opening day is a special day for avid skiers and snowboarders. It is the day they have anxiously been waiting for since the end of the previous riding season, a day when skiers and boarders come together to celebrate the new season and to reconnect with old friends.

“Opening weekend is more like a social reuniting,” said Christopher Nicolson, president of Tourism Sun Peaks. “Many people have summer social networks and winter social networks… your winter friends, in many cases you might see only once or twice throughout the summer,” Nicolson adds.

He continued to compare skiers and snowboarders to hibernating bears with the seasons reversed.

TRU students and Sun Peaks have a long history together as it is the closest mountain resort to Kamloops. Students are able to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday student life to spend some time skiing or boarding at Sun Peaks.

“Certainly TRU is a big part of Sun Peaks throughout the year, both from people being hired from TRU to just coming up and enjoying skiing and sliding around the mountain,” Nicolson said.

In tune with tradition, opening day played host to a select few who eagerly showed up before the rest in hopes of landing a spot on the coveted first chair of the season. Among those eager few was TRU tourism management student David White.  White and the three others who secured a spot on the first chair up had been in line for more than two hours before the chair started running.

Despite the less than ideal weather conditions preceding opening weekend, Sun Peaks was able to open four runs. Relying less on mother nature for the fluffy stuff and more on the combination of cold weather and snow-making technology, Sun Peaks still managed to get a jump on the season.

The resort operated the Sunburst Express and Elevation chairs to serve Cahilty, Lower 5 Mile and OSV.  Feeding into the village, Sunbeam and the Village Carpet lift were open providing resort goers with beginner terrain as a suitable learning grounds for first-timers before heading up the Sunburst Express on to bigger and better things.

As for terrain park features, the resort afforded riders of all abilities with a short, wide flat-box option along with a flat tube that had the feel of a backyard set-up as a opposed to a resort feature.  The features made for some fun sliding, whetting the appetite of  the local park rats who ate up the features in the afternoon after spinning laps on the Sunburst Express and Elevation lost its appeal.

Nearing the end of the afternoon, the weather took a turn for the worse in the village as it began to rain heavily. The true diehards were revealed as the opening-day crowd tapered off with the change in weather. For those that remained, not even being soaked through outerwear could wipe the smiles off their faces.

Besides, the true diehards know that rain in the village almost always means snow at higher elevations on the mountain.