Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

FLYING HIGH – Lewis Bunce participates in the Trudeau Method snowboard competition Saturday during Simapalooza while park builder Tyler NIchol records him.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

Image title

Photo by Vince Fedoroff

Image title

Photo by Vince Fedoroff

Image title

Photo by Vince Fedoroff

Simapalooza wraps record-breaking season

It was a year to remember for Mount Sima, culminating in a celebration pirate-style to close out the season.

By Dustin Cook on April 10, 2018

It was a year to remember for Mount Sima, culminating in a celebration pirate-style to close out the season.

Pirate-themed costumes filled Simapalooza this past weekend for a variety of activities and events on the slopes.

Mt. Sima general manager Janet Hink said the season – that started with a very strong pre-season training program – was one of the most successful to date.

The hill sold a record number of season and spring passes and Hink said with significant snowfalls in the early months of 2018, people came out in droves to enjoy the fresh powder.

“Generally we’re in line to have sold more half day tickets and full day tickets,” Hink said in an interview with the Star Monday afternoon as she was working on calculating the final numbers for Simapalooza weekend and the season overall. “It just feels as though more people are interested in Mount Sima.”

The increase in interest has also created a parking backlog, with cars consistently having to park along the road, which Hink said is not a bad problem to have and something they will look into dealing with ahead of next season.

“It’s nice to see and good problems to have and these are things we have to think about and address them creatively moving forward,” she said.

The hill also set a single-day sales record in early January with $25,000 in revenue following a massive snowfall.

Even with the totals from Simapalooza weekend not yet finalized, Hink said it was a very busy weekend on the hill and the crowds showed up with help from the warm and sunny weather.

“We put in an order for good weather and we got it,” Hink said. “It’s usually one of our highest grossing weekends and it looks like we’re nearly going to double if not more with respect to sales Saturday compared to last year.”

Weather created very busy days for the hill, but also some forced closures due to extreme cold throughout the season.

Hink said the hill was closed for six days which equalled the number from last season.

Due to extreme cold over the Christmas break, Hink said that was also a big hit for the hill as that time is usually a big revenue generator, but they didn’t have the people traffic.

The warmer weather that caused several melts throughout the winter didn’t impact Mt. Sima as much, Hink said.

“We’re really lucky that we are outside of town a bit. There is a bit of an elevation game,” she said. “The nice thing is that man-made snow that we have on most of our key runs is much more resilient to the warm ups.”

This year’s edition of Simapalooza had a few new components, Hink said, including a new mountain bike downhill boardercross event. The riders were transported up the hill by side-by-side and snowmobile.

“It seemed like it was a super fun pilot and we hope to do it again next year,” Hink said.

The classic skicross and boardercross events also took place on the Saturday and the Slush Cup wrapped up the weekend of activities, which Hink said went hand-in-hand with the Pirates theme, which was selected through a vote by the public.

“It’s very suitable for the Slush Cup when you’re going over that body of the water over the bunny hill and people dressed up with boats,” she said.

Two new components away from the hill included a public market where local vendors had the opportunity to be on site and sell their products.

Hink said three local vendors as well as Sports Experts took part in this trial, and Hink said they hope for it to expand in future years.

As well, a sound stage music scene was added as a ticketed event Saturday evening featuring three bands.

Due to a large snowpack still in place on the hill and the runs still in good condition, Hink said the hill will be open to the public this Friday to Sunday and will also feature the Yukon Freestyle Ski Championships and the Snowboard Championships.

The hill will open for the final time this season on Saturday, April 21, both to the public for one last ride as well as for the Uphill Challenge snowmobile event hosted by Yukon Yamaha.

Hink said the hill will then re-open for mountain biking in June.

The park received national attention early this season for their pre-season training program starting in October allowing teams and athletes from across the country to make their way up to Whitehorse and benefit from the colder conditions to train so early in the year.

“We want to continue to develop the program I would say,” Hink said. “In terms of growth, we have to consider capacity. We can only fit so many teams, we have room for freestlye teams, skiing and snowboarding. Alpine is reaching capacity.”

The Canadian para-snowboard team took part in a training camp on the hill in preparation for the Games in Pyeongchang, and Olympic medallist Max Parrot reached out to the hill to train, before winning a silver medal in slopestyle at the Olympics.

“To have someone competing at the highest Olympic level contact us and hear what’s happening here. It’s pretty incredible that the word is spreading like that,” Hink said.

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