When the first significant snow fell on SilverStar Mountain Resort in mid-October, the grinning face of Ian Jenkins said it all.
"It is very exciting to see new snow at the mountain and hopefully, it bodes well for where the season is headed," said SilverStar's director of sales and marketing.
"The new gondola cabins have been put on the line, the parking lot is under expansion and we are nearing the launch of our new SilverStar Ski app. We have also completed renovations at Paradise Camp and lots of touch-ups in our other locations. Overall, the excitement is building and it's shaping up to be a great season ahead."
The scheduled opening day for cross-country skiing is Nov. 24 and for downhill, Nov. 30.
You could call the upgrades “up, down and around.” In anticipation of heightened skier and snowboarder demand, 21 more cabins have been added to the Summit Express eight-passenger gondola, doubling its uphill capacity to 2,400 riders per hour.
The resort has also added two new Piston Bully groomers to its fleet to support terrain park maintenance, enhance natural terrain features and create more flawless corduroy runs for those on the way down the slopes.
New radio frequency identification (RFID) gates will scan all passes and tickets, eliminating the need to take out your ticket to get checked at the lifts and that will improve the flow of riders back onto the chairs.
In addition, with the new SilverStar Ski app launching this winter, you can track your stats, find your friends and check conditions on-demand. And shhhh - only tell your friends - SilverStar now offers an “early riser” experience so you can have the slopes all to yourself for an entire hour before everyone else jumps on the lift.
If you are heading to the Terrain Park, the popular play spot had numerous pre-season enhancements including a design-and-build collaboration with legendary park builder Elliot Cone; a full redesign of the XL Lanes to create a world-class slopestyle competition course, new rails and custom features and lighting, slope and feature improvements for the Night Park.
One hundred and fifty new parking spots were added to expand the popular ski-in/ski-out Lot E. (You can ski right to this lot off the Attridge ski area).
It's not news to perennial guests, but SilverStar will continue its all-encompassing My1Pass day tickets and season passes which conveniently bundle a mountain of fun for downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, tubing, snowshoeing, skating and “fat” biking.
When you are done having so much fun, new executive head chef Nigel Baks is ready and willing to challenge your taste buds, said Jenkins.
"A full renovation of Paradise Camp is underway, in addition to facility updates at several of our other mountain restaurants. D’Argento, for example, will have a new and improved menu for shared family dining experiences."
A new Indian fusion restaurant - The Spice House - will add to the global flavours already found at the Bulldog Grand Cafe, Bugaboos Bakery Cafe, Pizza Gratta, Long John's Pub, Black Pine Social, The Den and Red Antler.
"SilverStar is a spectacular winter destination with much to explore on and off the slopes. There's a reason Canadian ski pioneers, Olympians and world champions across the globe call SilverStar home," said Destination Silver Star executive director Cassandra Zerebeski "And this winter, we have a lot of exciting updates to look forward to, not to mention a packed events calendar."
Of note, SilverStar will hosting Treeline Retreat on Nov. 17-19, a pre-season weekend wellness retreat, and the new Silver Star Arts and Culture Festival is showcasing the community's impressive artistic and cultural aspects.
Some of its biggest returning events will include the annual Light Up, the Winter Carnival, the OTH (Over The Hill) downhill race, Monster Boarderstyle, the SEISMIC Spring Festival and the Sovereign2SilverStar ski marathon.
SilverStar, at an elevation of 1,609 metres in British Columbia’s Monashee Mountains, boasts a 760-metre vertical drop, an annual snowfall of 700 centimetres, and 132 runs on 3,282 acres of terrain. Together with nearby the Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre, the two offer 105 kilometres of Nordic trails, the largest continuous groomed cross-country trail network in North America.
As if that wasn't enough, SilverStar and Sun Peaks have been named to the list of top 10 ski hills in North America.
In its annual 2023-24 ski season report, HomeToGo, the world’s largest vacation rental marketplace, assessed the top 48 ski destinations in British Columbia, Quebec, and 13 U.S. states, evaluating them based on traveller interest, affordability (lift ticket and accommodation prices), chairlift capacity and average snow depth. SilverStar ranked seventh overall, while Sun Peaks near Kamloops placed 10th.
The cross-country ski season is officially underway with the Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre east of Vernon the first to welcome skiers on Wednesday. However, Nickel Plate Nordic Centre west of Penticton started grooming on Oct. 24 so skiers could enjoy an unofficial weekend of pre-season adventures Nov. 10 to 12 before the ski area officially opens Nov. 24.
"Even with limited skiing, our opening was a success," said new Sovereign’s general manager Wendy Shannon. "Athletes participating in the provincial biathlon and XC camp shared trails with members and day users. There were some moments when Passmore resembled a highway more than a ski trail, but there were smiles all around. Partway through the day, snow started to fall and we received around five centimetres. The groomers will be out packing more trails in the coming days. Thanks to everyone who came to welcome the new staff in the lodge.”
At Nickel Plate, the opening was a good one as well, said marketing and communications manager Kevin Dyck Wednesday.
"We were fortunate enough to welcome the UBC Nordic Ski Team for their five-day pre-season camp. What an incredible group of young adults. If that's the future of Nordic skiing, the sport is in good hands,” he said.
“We also welcomed the Telemark race team, who were happy to be back on snow (well, everyone was - so that was an easy win). Overall, the weekend was a hit. Now, we just need more snow, but it was dumping when I left today, so it's coming."
Sun Peaks Resort was scheduled to open on Saturday (Nov. 18). Big White Ski Resort's official opening will be Nov. 23. SilverStar Mountain Resort will launch its Nordic season Nov. 24, Alpine on Nov. 30. Apex Mountain Resort will open Dec. 9 and Baldy Mountain Resort will open Dec. 15. Telemark Nordic Centre and Kelowna Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Club have not yet announced opening dates.
This is the third in a multi-part series on what is new and different at the 12 downhill ski resorts and cross-country ski areas in the Southern Interior. Columns on Sun Peaks, Revelstoke and Nickel Plate are coming up.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.