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Mountain sports cancelled at B.C. Winter Games due to lack of snow

Ski hill operator says she's 'hugely' disappointed as lack of snow forces closure.
Troll Ski Resort near Quesnel, B.C., was forced to close due to a lack of snow ahead of its scheduled role as host of the 2024 B.C. Winter Games.

Ski and snowboard events have been cancelled at the upcoming B.C. Winter Games after a lack of snowfall prompted several sporting organizations to pull out. 

In a statement Thursday, the B.C. Games Society said that after “extensive consultation” with coaches and the society, BC Alpine Ski, Freestyle BC and BC Snowboard withdrew from the event. 

“A lack of snowpack on the mountain at Troll Ski Resort and the absence of heavy snowfall in the forecast influenced the final decision,” said the society’s statement.

Event organizers say that more than 1,200 athletes from across B.C. will still participate in the Lhtako Quesnel 2024 B.C. Winter Games, scheduled to run Feb. 22-25.

Operator Hildur Sinclair, whose father opened the family-run resort about 50 years ago, said they have opened on and off for a total of 22 days this year. Now they are facing a “worst-case scenario.” 

“It doesn’t get any worse than not being able to open,” she said.

The current closure comes after a late January spike in temperature and high altitude precipitation melted what little snow the mountain resort had. Sinclair says the impacts of the abnormally warm winter have had far reaching consequences in the surrounding community. 

“People talk about their aquifers diminishing or rivers are lower than they should be. You know, it's a bigger problem than just the ski hills. It's the environment,” she said. 

Sinclair said losing the winter games is not a huge financial blow on its own. The ski hill never brought in a lot of money as a host of the games, but it does mean a lot for the town of Quesnel, and Sinclair said she is happy the games will continue there.

Other snow sport organizations involved in the games, including Biathlon BC and Cross Country BC, are still attending the event no matter the conditions, and Nordic Provincial Sport Organizations is planning to contact participants directly to update them on the schedule and how to prepare before the games, said the B.C. Games Society.

“They are a boost to our town,” Sinclair said. “We're disappointed hugely because we like to participate in those things and be a supportive piece of the community. But financially, you know, everything adds up.”

One of the biggest financial hits for locally owned resorts is insurance, which is paid in full every season no matter how many days a ski hill opens, Sinclair said. 

At the moment, however, her mind is on getting one or two feet of snow so they can at least run their school programs. 

“Skiing is a lot more than just about getting out and shredding pow,” Sinclair said. “For us in the north, it’s a sense of community. Getting together, it helps you with your mental health to get through a long winter.” 

“What I’d like to say to people is we’re struggling to stay alive in your communities… we need skiers to support us.”