The Batawa Skill Hill features some gentle slopes for beginners and steep terrain for more serious skiers; all on a course that’s totally lit up at night and, thanks to this abominable winter, packed with good hard snow.
It’s been an exciting season for the ski hill located in the one-time shoe-factory community, located off Hwy. 33, about a five minute drive north of Hwy. 401 and Quinte West. New lights on two popular courses and great winter weather have led to an increase in skiers in 2013-2014, said new general manager Andrew Rusynyk. And more great things are in store in the future, for this small, family-oriented ski venue.
“There’s a real feel of community here,” says Rusynyk. “There’s a lot of long-standing loyal people here who have contributed to running the hill and maintaining the hill.”
He says the ski hill covers 12 acres and spans 180 vertical feet. It’s much smaller than the Rocky Mountain courses Rusynyk worked on for 12 years when he lived in Alberta, but there’s good diversity among the nine trails, he says.
The two most utilized ones, Smokey and Old Smokey, are steep and fast-enough to entertain experienced skiers. But other trails, such as the Bambi are gentle and designed for children or beginners. The outside perimeter trails, Boomerang and Long John, are perfect for easy cruising runs, Rusynyk says.
While all the trails are surrounded by lights to make night skiing possible, Smokey and Old Smokey are now covered with LED lights. This new type of energy-efficient lighting is a great investment for the hill, as it will lower its electricity costs, but it also creates what Rusynyk calls a “very nice clear, intense light,” which is safer for skiers.
The new lights, installed during the 2013-2014 season, are just one of several investments made by the ski hill. New renovations have been completed in the guest services area and on the snow school. There’s also a new roof on the ski hill’s resort. The management team also plans on completing some “dirt work” soon that will shape the terrain park to make it easier and safer for young visitors.
Rusynyk said he’s proud that the Batawa Ski Hill has a family-oriented atmosphere and he hopes to keep it that way. “One of my goals this year is to bring back the family fun in skiing. Skiing is one of the only winter sports you can do for a whole day and a whole night with the family all together,” he says. “Any other winter sport you might do for an hour or less.”
The ski hill offers special programs for children on weekdays when school isn’t in session, such as P.A. day events and March Break group lessons. The Batawa Ski Hill is also the host venue for the Batawa Ski Racing Club, a program for competitive skiers who compete in Alpine Ontario events, ranging from the Under 10 to Under 20 age categories.
Rusynyk was hired to run the Batawa Ski Hill in the fall of 2013 and he says his first year has been memorable. Due to cold fall weather, the hill was able to open earlier than ever before, in mid November. And by January the hill was totally covered in snow, through a combination of natural and man-made snow.
He said one of the best things about the Batawa Ski Hill is its ties to the close-knit community, which was once home to the Batawa Shoe Factory and still has a tight-knit group of neighbours.“That’s the fun part of it. You walk through the chalet and every step you’re taking you’re saying hello to someone else,” he says.
He encourages skiing enthusiasts to check out the hill anytime between now and when the snow melts.“We’ll stay open until people stop coming up,” he says.
For more information on the Batawa Ski Hill, including directions and information on rates, visit http://batawaskihill.com/