A message from our President and CEO Barry Heck
Update: January 19, 2021
I am pleased to share that we have completed the building of the West Terrain Park and have opened this area of the hill. We are also reopening the Progression Park with modified features.
The earlier closure of the Progression Park was due to numerous guests not following COVID-19 guidelines which put the entire hill at risk of a government-mandated closure. We will not risk a hill closure and have implemented more stringent measures to keep everyone safe and our hill open.
There will be zero-tolerance for any guest who does not follow WinSport’s COVID-19 protocols and those of the Government of Alberta. This could result in the loss of hill access for the rest of the winter season. We want to keep our hill and terrain parks open. It is only by working together we can make this happen.
Please review all our COVID-19 protocols before coming to WinSport. Thank you in advance for your co-operation.
Guests are required to:
- Keep six feet (two metres) away from all others outside of your household.
- Ride lifts with your household members. If non-household, a maximum of two riders are allowed at opposite ends of the chairlift.
- Wear a double-layered face covering. No face covering, no access.
- Keep bags and backpacks in your vehicle (No bags or backpacks anywhere on the hill.)
January 11, 2021
Canada Olympic Park is playing a bigger role than ever in Calgary’s winter life this year. It is a complex exercise every fall to build terrain and features for multiple snow sports within one facility while meeting the needs of everyone from beginners to competitive athletes. I want to give a mid-season update as we start 2021 and respond to concerns expressed by some guests about which terrain features and venues have been made available so far this season.
This winter has offered unique challenges. On top of COVID-19 protocols, we have faced the worst weather (from a snowmaking perspective) in our 33 years of operation. In a typical winter, cold temperatures provide us with about 18 snowmaking days by the first week of January. Usually, by this time of the season, all parts of the hill are open, and we have made all the snow we need to last through until April.
This season, the first six weeks of winter gave us only six snowmaking days. We are about three weeks behind in our timeline for building out the park. Our team still requires a good cold stretch to make the remainder of the snow required and a couple of days of cat work to shape the terrain.
An efficient build-out
Our team follows a proven approach to making snow and building features in various areas of the hill. Broadly speaking, we make snow from east to west, which is the most effective approach. Our $1.7-million investment in snowmaking automation in recent years has improved our efficiency and allowed us to get the base hill open despite the uncooperative weather.
Each year, we complete the main hill first (including the small features that make the progression park), followed by the tube park, mogul pitch, slopestyle course, 22-foot halfpipe and west terrain park. As soon as there is enough snow, we complete each feature, opening them as soon as possible. We make snow on the west side of the hill all at once, building the slopestyle course (which requires the least snow), followed by the halfpipe and west terrain park. We are as anxious as our guests are to get all the features completed, so that skiers and boarders can spread out over the full extent of the hill.
We have adjusted operations through the season to adapt to changing public health guidance and to address areas of safety concern. One such area was the progression park. While we completed the park for opening day on November 27th, there were significant issues with users failing to follow the mandatory protocols, including face coverings and physical distancing.
The progression park is in a congested area between the two chair lifts. Rather than risk a government-mandated closure of the entire facility, we made the decision to remove the progression park. We will reopen the progression park along with the west terrain park once we are able to make enough snow. This will spread out the number of guests in each area. All users will be required to follow COVID-19 guidelines to enable us to keep these areas open.
NSO funding for large features
We are grateful to ski and snowboard National Sport Organizations for the substantial funding they provided to build and maintain the slopestyle course, halfpipe and mogul pitch this year. WinSport was not in a financial position to build these large features this season without this support.
Some guests have questioned why national team members have been training on the hill in areas that are not open to the public. The contractual arrangement with the NSOs allows access for national and NexGen athletes to train in preparation for world-calibre events. However, all club athletes will have access and training privileges later in January. The slopestyle course is available now because it requires less snow than the halfpipe and west terrain park do.
WinSport’s mission is to enable athletes of all ages and abilities to discover, develop, and excel at sport. This is a broad mandate, and we work hard to balance all three components of the mission.
We appreciate your ongoing support and ask for your patience. We remain at the mercy of Mother Nature, ready to take full advantage of any snowmaking windows coming in January.