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Ottawa skiers embracing the last warm days before cold spell

Despite the sunny and mild weather, impending cold on the horizon is prompting many skiers to make the most out of the remaining warm days of winter.

Environment Canada says colder temperatures will come to the capital as soon as Thursday, with a high of minus 9 C predicted and a 60 per cent chance of snow.

It was a busy day at Mount Pakenham Ski Resort, about 60 kilometres west of Ottawa, where skiers like Jennifer Elgar were taking in the sunshine on the slopes.

“We find Pakenham does a great job with the snow conditions and you wouldn’t even know that there’s been mild temperatures this week,” said Elgar.

“We’re really looking forward to more snow to come because they’ll be opening up more routes.”

Despite the unusually warm weather, part of Mount Pakenham has been open since early December.

Even six-year-old Clare Elgar is eager for winter’s arrival.

“I get to go down lots of hills,” said Clare.

Mount Pakenham has been working tirelessly to produce artificial snow daily and combating the warm temperatures, which are expected to drop in the coming weeks.

“We’re at 100 per cent manmade snow at this point. Mother Nature hasn’t cooperated too much, but the conditions that we have to offer are really good,” said Andrew Burns, Mount Pakenham’s director of operations.

“We’ve been making snow and when they get here, they’re going to be pleasantly surprised.”

Environment Canada says the coldest months of the year are fast approaching, hopefully giving the Rideau Canal Skateway a chance to avoid a repeat of last season, when it was unable to open.

“The coldest months are January and February. I’m confident that you’ll see some skating on the Rideau,” says David Phillips, Environment Canada’s senior climatologist. “It may be a very short season, but I believe that there will be enough cold. I just can’t believe that you’d be shut out two years in a row.”

Season pass holders at Pakenham say they are ready for whatever weather is ahead. Veteran skier Brad O’Neil visits the resort more than 70 times a season and says he’ll be out here even when it’s minus 30 C.

“Yeah, absolutely. Just put layers on,” says O’Neil.

Even 75-year-old Allan Meadows remains undeterred by the cold. He says any skiing is good skiing.

“For us old diehards, we’re out on the hill in any condition and we don’t really care as long as we’re turning our skis,” said Meadows.

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