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Spike in WinSport demand forces them to halt season pass sales

Demand for season passes at WinSport’s Canada Olympics Park has spiked, forcing them to suspend sales – at least until the hill opens.

A notice on the website informs visitors that they will no longer be able to purchase the passes.

“This is to ensure that we can maintain sufficient physical distancing on the hill to keep everyone safe during COVID-19,” the website reads.

Dale Oviatt, senior communications manager with WinSport, said they’ve seen a 25 per cent jump in season pass sales. They’ve seen their biggest jump in demand, however in family pass sales.

Those are up 50 per cent after sales dipped last season.

He said when planning for this COVID-19 season, they weren’t sure how things might go for this season.

“As sales started to pick up, we thought, ‘well, it does make sense,’ kind of equating it to the spring when bikes were such a hot commodity,” Oviatt said.

“Now everyone’s turning to skiing and snowboarding. So for us, it’s a very good thing to have happen.”

Cars as the hub

While they’re encouraged by the strong demand, Oviatt said there’s planning ongoing to accommodate guests in the day lodge area – including the cafeteria.

They’ll need to figure out how to keep people distanced, and to ensure washroom services are adequate. That may include bringing in additional outdoor washrooms as well. Cafeteria services will also be available.

“We’re trying to encourage people to use their car as the hub,” he said.  

“So get dressed at your car, come to the hill ready, versus, bringing all your stuff into the day lodge and kind of going back and forth from there.”

They recognize that while guests will generally be outdoors, they must address the pinch points, like the day lodge. And of course, lift lines.

 WinSport is still finalizing the strategy around keeping those lines moving, while keeping people safe.

“We’re looking at distancing wherever possible in the lines, keeping cohorts together on the lifts wherever possible. You might see cases of single individuals going on either side of the chairlift if they’re comfortable with that,” he said.

“It’s not like the old days where you would have seen four strangers jump on the chairlift together. Certainly, those days are gone, at least for the near future.”

Impact on day users

While the season passes had to be throttled back to ensure they didn’t pack too many people in, Oviatt said they’ll also have manage day users, too.

He said they’ll be using historical analysis to determine how many people are typically at Canada Olympic Park on a given day during the season.  From there, they’ll release day passes that can only be purchased online, in advance – not at the hill.

They’ll be making on-the-fly adjustments based on certain times of day.

“It’ll be as we go, that’s the bottom line,” he said.

“We’ll kind of learn as we go and take each day, one day at a time and learn from the previous day.”

According to the website, they’ll see how many skiers and snowboarders they have on the hill daily. They may open up seasons passes sales again.

The scheduled opening for the hill is Nov. 27. The tube park will be open Dec. 20, and tickets can only be purchase in advance.

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