After two years of disappointing freezing levels and non-starter winters, the mountains of North Vancouver are enjoying a welcomed return to typical late season operations. Cypress Mountain, Grouse Mountain, and Mount Seymour are planning events into April, and taking full advantage of this spring’s opportunity to remind riders that Vancouver can offer fantastic skiing and boarding as the seasons change.
As April begins, Cypress Mountain offers a ‘Onesie Day’ party on the 1st and Grouse Mountain continues their ‘Jam Over the City’ terrain park series. April 2nd marks Mount Seymour’s inaugural “Baked Salmon” banked slalom Race and Grouse’s Red Bull Slope Soakers, giving Vancouverites a choice between grassroots feel at Seymour and elaborate fun at Grouse. Seymour gives snowboarders an open try out for their Progression Team on the 3rd, as well as the opportunity to learn about organized boarding with the BC Development Team. On the 9th, Cypress hosts the conclusion of their ‘Skullcandy Series’ rail jams and Seymour throws a Slush Cup, then on the 16th Cypress hosts a Slush Cup of their own.
The theme of the events seems to be fun across the board, with all three North Shore mountains ready to celebrate after the successful season Vancouver has been waiting for. Their customers seem receptive, with hashtags associated with the mountains active on social media accounts representative of skiers, snowboarders, backcountry users on skis, splitboards, and snowshoes, and other recreationists such as hikers and mountain bikers.
The question of whether confidence in skiing and boarding has returned the city remains difficult to answer, but there is positivity among local shops and industry workers and the strong winter has certainly increased sales and participation. Jarrett Zavitz, the manager of Comor Sports’ Burnaby location, has a customer base that draws largely from family demographics in the lower mainland. “Seeing the locals covered in snow every day meant a huge increase in traffic through the doors, especially during the holiday season and well into the New Year,” he says. “Most people needed accessories to complement their setups and a lot of others need to update their gear now that they are actually heading up the mountain. This season gave me a lot more optimism about the market, it was a reminder as to what life in a busy shop is like.” Comor’s last few years marked a shift towards focus on the bike market, playing to Vancouver’s near-year-round potential for mountain bike and commuter sales. Still, the shop is known for its winter categories. “We just need to see it happen again the next few years,” Zavitz added, hinting at the skepticism that still lingers as Vancouver’s climate trends away from the temperatures needed for consistent snowfalls.
The takeaways seem to be that catering to the experience of going to the mountain, through lifestyle drivers like events and accessories, is a strategy that lets Vancouver’s industry capitalize on the opportunities nature provides, and that consumers are ready and waiting to engage with skiing and snowboarding in the city. And as the North American industry begins to shell the ‘Chicken Little’ narrative, there seems to be room for optimism again on the North Shore.