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Batawa Ski Hill battles Mother Nature

A skier coasts down the slopes at Batawa Ski Hill. Photo by Cam Kennedy, QNet News

Skiers and snowboarders can now enjoy their respective sports after the opening of the Batawa Ski Hill. Photo by Cam Kennedy, QNet News

By Cam Kennedy [1]

BATAWA – A mild winter in the Belleville [2] area has hurt the popular Batawa Ski Hill [3].

“We depend on the weather for our business,” Hannah Brown, communications co-ordinator at Batawa, told QNet News Wednesday. “This year, Mother Nature has really been fighting us the whole way. We opened late this year.”

With a warmer winter comes the struggle of making snow for the ski runs and getting it to stick around.

“We’ve basically had to throw the snow-making rulebook out the window,” said Andrew Rusynyk, general manager at the ski hill. “We’ve had to move our (snow) guns around more often. We’ve made snow at times that we normally wouldn’t.”

Brown said the biggest impact of the hill opening later than usual this season was losing customers over the holidays. The hill was not able to open until Dec. 31.

“It was a big hit missing the Christmas holiday season,” she said. “We couldn’t run our (ski-training) camps.” It’ll be hard to recover from that.”

However, with all nine of the runs now open, skiers and snowboarders have been coming in flocks.

“The interest and the excitement to get out once we opened has been strong,” Rusynyk said. “It’s kind of like pent-up energy. People wanted to get out.”

Despite the late start to the season, customer feedback has been very positive, he said.

“Everybody understood the situation that we were in. They totally recognized that Mother Nature has been a bit of a pain this year. They’ve been extremely appreciative of the efforts put in” to open the hill.

The hill was one of the first in Ontario to open this season, according to Rusynyk.