The Edmonton Ski Club makes a shift this season
There will be one less option for local skiers and snowboarders this season as the Edmonton Ski Club will not open this winter.
The combination of failing infrastructure, construction of the new LRT line on Conners Hill, which involved the dismantling of the club’s main T-bar lift and a lack of funding all played part in the decision to close ESC for the winter.
While acting president Monty Worobec says the club is in discussion with the city, the change is only temporary.
“With so many moving parts and the entire area in a transition, the board felt that it was best to put the brakes on for one season,” he says.“We’re in a holding pattern because we don’t know where the club fits into the master plan. There are other stakeholders in the area like the folk festival, the Muttart Conservatory and the River Valley Park System, who are also all part of the puzzle.”
The city is working on a master plan for the Conners Hill area, a move necessitated by the new LRT line that will dramatically change the entire Cloverdale area. Until that is complete the club is questioning how much to put into the ski hill when the future is so uncertain.
“Do we fix the T-bar and stay operational or do we fix the roof on the clubhouse? And is it going to be viable to keep operating going forward? All options have to be looked at because it’s hard to be a success operating just four months a year,” Worobec says.
This spring the clubhouse did not pass a structural inspection by the city and only after a temporary wall was constructed was the building able to be used for the Edmonton Folk Festival later in the summer.
Two of the major groups that use ESC, the Edmonton Alpine Ski Racing Society and the Edmonton Freestyle Ski Club, have moved to Sunridge for this season.
“We are going to miss the central location of our home at the ski club but Sunridge has been gracious enough to host us for this season and we are optimistic we will be back at ESC next season,” says the society’s president Greg Milne.
This season would have marked the 107th year in operation for the club making one of the oldest in Canada. During Edmonton’s early years as a city ESC served a role as both a community hub and a ski hill.
The ski jump that spanned Conners Road from 1913 up until the 1980s was an instantly recognizable part of Edmonton’s landscape. Starting on the south side of Conners Hill the jump extended out over Conners Road and skiers landed on the slopes of ECS above the Muttart Conservatory. Images of vehicles driving underneath while skiers launched off the jump are an iconic part of Edmonton’s history and character.
ECS’s location just across the North Saskatchewan River from Edmonton’s downtown make it one of the few urban ski hills truly located in the heart of a major city.
As the current stewards of the club and all it represents, Worobec says the board of directors remains confident that ESC will be back in operation next season.
“By next summer the LRT construction on the hill will be largely done and we’ll have a better idea of what we are looking at. In the long run we can only see good coming out of this but it’s turbulent water for all of us right now.”