Mt. Shasta Ski Park finishes busy season on a high note

Shareen Strauss
Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers

The Mt. Shasta Ski Park celebrated the last day of a long season with well over 100 people enjoying the spring weather and live music by the Sundown Poachers. 

The season started with 100% man-made snow for the first month and a half but over 200 inches of snow with an average depth of four feet made for a busy season – even with COVID-19 restrictions. As the season came to an end, the snow melted from 59 inches on the top of the Douglas run last week to 46 inches on the last day. But everyone still had fun according to “weekend warrior” snowboarder Josh Eakes from Crescent City. “It’s always a fun time here with some really good runs and you can't beat the music,” he said.

Tom Stokely says that he comes to the park to ski about every other day throughout the season. “As the bumper sticker says, ‘I love it here.’ It is a typical spring day, icy in the morning and slushy in the afternoon and the sweet spot is in between.”

There were many changes throughout the season, both good and bad, but the ski park had a good season according to its general manager, Richard Coots. 

“There were over 100,00 visitors over the season with 20% fewer employees this year,” Coots said. “We increased the staff’s wages because they had to multi-task and work more hours since we couldn’t get the coverage this year. It was still was a super good year with revenues up yet we were only able to hire 220 employees as opposed to the normal 270.”

Nine and 10-year-olds Maeve Lishawa, Finley Bainbridge, Jessa Potts, and Gillian Campbell headed up to the slopes "to race down on one ski" on the last day at the Mt. Shasta Ski Park on April 10, 2021. They say it has been lots of fun but they wish they didn't have to wear masks.

Coots said it was tough finding people to work at the ski park this season.

“We doubled the size of the bar which we dedicated to the owner Ray Mero, who passed away six months ago. We also lost a couple of key employees to death as well. That has been very sad,” said Coots.

Last year, the ski park lost a month and a half because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a precaution, this season there were no lockers and skiers had to lock their things in their cars. But there were three full days where the park had to turn people away. 

“We had a good season despite the COVID restrictions,” said ski park staff member Hannah Koschnick. “We’ve been fortunate with lots of powder days. This last day is slower, but it is a family day.”

Many young children on both skis and snowboards expertly navigated the slopes. Many hung out at Buffalo Gulch to play.

Seven-year-old Maddie Braugh said, “Buffalo Gulch was the best part where kids get to play. I am sad that it’s over. I am going to miss the jumps, it’s my favorite.” 

On Sunday, only 12 of the park’s 32 runs were open. The lifts were running and so were the learning centers. Marmot and Douglas each had about four or five runs open, including the terrain park. From the parking lot, there didn’t look like there was enough snow to ski on, but there were lots of people heading up the lifts to the runs that were well-groomed.  

Included in the wide variety of people enjoying the park, Scott Beveridge and his handicapped adult son, Drai, who became a paraplegic six months ago after breaking his neck have been coming from Ashland to take advantage of the adaptive ski program that Mt. Ashland doesn't have this year. Mt. Shasta Ski Park has accommodating chair lifts for the handicapped.  

While there was a mix of people dressed in snow clothes and summer wear on Sunday, masks were worn both on the slopes and while hanging out at the end of the day while people danced to the tunes of the Sundown Poachers. 

Alan Cohn from Mount Shasta, a regular at the ski park, summed it up by saying, “The grooming has been good. It was a great season.”