Asessippi Ski Area & Resort is preparing to open for a new ski season in mid-December. Submitted Photo

By Chelsea Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Staff at Asessippi Ski Area & Resort are hard at work preparing for another winter season and are expecting to see an increased interest  in winter sports this year.

Assistant general manager Shannon  Johnston said it is an exciting time at the resort because it looks like  2021 could be a more typical year on the hill. Staff are anticipating a  busy ski season as they have been fielding many calls and an increased  interest in those looking to secure a season pass.

“There’s lots of excitement this winter. I think people are looking forward to getting out again,” Johnston said.

Opening  day for the resort has been set for Dec. 17, depending on snowmaking  and the weather. The resort typically stays open until the first week of  April based on the weather conditions.

Skiing and snowboarding  have exploded in popularity during COVID-19, as it is one of the few  remaining sports people were able to engage in safely.

However,  last year proved challenging as Asessippi was forced to limit the number  of visitors allowed on the hill due to public health measures. Despite  the restrictions, every day the resort was open, it was pretty much full  to capacity.

“We had a lot of new visits last year. First time to  skiing or snowboarding, but also the first time to Asessippi,” Johnston  said. “That was really cool to see.”

Asessippi is in a unique  position for a ski resort as the hill relies 100 per cent on snowmaking.  The resort makes its own snow, allowing it to establish a solid base  that is groomed daily for skiers and snowboarders, while also creating  stockpiles of snow.

Overall, they saw a great season last year,  Johnston said. Staff were impressed by how positive visitors were,  despite the resort being unable to let visitors inside of the lodge due  to public health regulations.

“People were just happy to be out,” Johnston said.

She added Asessippi is a fun hill to visit because it has runs available for all levels of athletes.

“We  have everything they need — a terrain park, the bunny hill is huge.  It’s got 650 magic carpets, so they’re not dealing with the T-bar or  toe-rope. It’s super easy.”

For those looking to learn how to  carve their skis on the hill, Asessippi has Canadian Ski Instructor  Alliance or Canadian Association of Snowboard Instructors teachers on  hand providing lessons. These educators provide instruction for those  who have never been on a snowboard or skis, up to those looking to  conquer advanced mogul runs.

“Our terrain varies from the bunny  hill, and then you can go over to our quad chair, which we call our  Squirrel Chair, and that’s blues and green runs as well as one smaller  terrain park. If you head out over to our Porcupine, triple chair,  that’s actually where we have our ski racers do their training and their  ski racing,” Johnston said. “At our Bear chair, that terrain is  incredible; it’s big and windy and you can almost just imagine you’re in  the mountains, and there’s blues, blacks and greens. We have a huge  variety for everyone.”

This year, they will be able to once again  welcome visitors back into the physical resort building while adhering  to COVID-19 public health measures. Proof of double vaccination will be  required to go inside.

Those who are unvaccinated can still access skis, snowboards, tubes, use the washroom, rent equipment or get food to go.

Johnston  noted the world has been in constant flux during COVID-19, and  Asessippi has been no exception. The resort remains ready to pivot its  offerings based on COVID-19 public health regulations.

“Things are  ever-changing. Since COVID started, the rules today don’t necessarily  apply tomorrow,” Johnston said. “We’re constantly ready for that.”

Last  year the entire rental operation at the resort was essentially moved  outside and those looking to rent equipment were able to book rentals  online and pick up gear during pre-booked timeslots, Johnston said. Work  is underway on this year’s rental approach and she expects it will be a  little more open, but a focus will remain on the protection of staff  and guests.

Asessippi sales manager Kendra Sitko said they are  excited to welcome guests back to the resort for another great year of  winter sports.

“We have something for everybody. It’s a great destination ski spot and we have tons to offer,” Sitko said.

“If  you’ve never, ever skied or snowboarded before and you’re not sure  where to start, give us a call. We will walk you through the entire  process.

“We’re excited about the snow we’re going to make and the terrain we will have open. It’s going to be a great season.”

Sitko praised the staff at the resort and their passion for helping the ski resort find success.

“We love to be here,” Sitko said. “We love helping people host family vacations and making family memories.”

Asessippi is  working on New Year’s Eve plans. Depending on public health  regulations, it will host its traditional fireworks show celebrating the  beginning of a fresh year. During the special holiday, the quad chair  will be open until midnight, the mini hill is open until 11 p.m. and  tubing is open until 9 p.m. The downstairs of the resort will be  revamped to host children’s movies and a supper special will be  available.

“We’re waiting to hear about restrictions until we go  ahead with our fireworks. We usually have two fireworks shows, but it  all depends on public health regulations,” Sitko said.

“It’s a beautiful ambiance.”

This item is reprinted with permission from Brandon Sun, Inglis, Manitoba. See article HERE.

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