First it was golf and cycling that took off during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now it looks like skiing and snowboarding are going to be the big winners this winter.
“I remember this kind of excitement from years ago,” said Jodi McAvoy, owner of Skier’s Sports Shop.
“It’s been quite crazy. We’ve got a list of 60 people waiting for cross country skis alone.
“The last 10 days have been like Christmas. Product is scarce.”
“It’s like insane,” agreed Jim Hillman, co-owner of Sundance Ski and Board Shop.
“It’s almost impossible to control the demand. We can’t answer the phones fast enough.”
Hillman said his store has never been this busy.
“It’s literally twice as busy when compared to our best year. It’s a good problem. But it’s hard to keep up. There’s only so much product.”
Snow Valley and Rabbit Hill have already sold more passes than they would in an entire season; the Edmonton Ski Club season, which reopened last year after being shut down for the previous two years, has seen pass sales nearly double.
“People want to get outside,” said Tim Dea, marketing and communications manager for Snow Valley.
“Everybody is experiencing the high volume.
“The day we opened in November we had 200 people come to the hill in the first two and a half hours that we were open. And, it was a school day.”
With many other winter indoor sports either put on hold or cancelled completely and snowbirds unable to go south this winter, sports like skiing are taking over.
“A lot of parents and kids are not doing or are unable to do the same winter activities they have in the past and skiing and snowboarding are great choices,” said Derek Look, general manager of Rabbit Hill.
“People that haven’t skied in years are coming back to the sport because they can’t do some of the other sports - like hockey - they used to be able to do,” said McAvoy.
“Our number one clientele is families. Skiing is something they can do together in the fresh air. No. 2 is young people; we’ve had a lot of university students buying skis.”
Look said skiing and snow boarding are the perfect things to do during the pandemic for a variety of reasons.
“Skiers and snowboarders are already wearing personal protective equipment: masks, goggles and gloves; they are already covered from head to toe.
“And there is social distancing in place. Outside is the safe place to be. When you’re skiing or snowboarding you aren’t right beside anyone. The only areas we have to watch are the rental shop, lift lines and the day lodge.”
“People want to go outside; they want to get outdoors and get some mental and physical health,” added the Edmonton Ski Club’s guest services manager David Fontaine.
Look didn’t know for sure what this winter was going to bring.
“I thought we might even be down.
“When we were doing our planning and forecasting over the summer these are not the numbers we were forecasting. We definitely didn’t expect this type of demand.”
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