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Travel Quebec skiers can expect to be on the slopes later

09:26  13 february  2018
09:26  13 february  2018 Source:   msn.com

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MONTREAL - One well-known Quebec ski journalist believes that changing weather conditions mean skiers in the province will enjoy a later season on the slopes.

"We're in a situation right now where the ski season tends to start a little later and sometimes it continues a little bit later into April," Guy Thibaudeau said in a recent interview.

The 71-year-old ski enthusiast knows what he's talking about — Thibaudeau is entering his 50th year reporting on winter sports in Quebec.

If skiers are planning a vacation, February and March are "definitely the two best months" to head for the hills, he said.

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Thibaudeau pointed out that wild weather patterns have prompted avid skiers to juggle their plans.

"They prefer to do short-term planning rather than long-term, which means they will make shorter trips," he added.

Thibaudeau noted that abnormal weather conditions have led to a lot of extremes.

For example, over the Christmas holidays, temperatures were cold and then there were periods of rain in January.

"I think we had three days of rain that shut down most ski centres in Quebec for probably a day," he noted.

Thibaudeau, who was in the Charlevoix region northeast of Quebec City in late January, said the ski hills didn't have as much snow as usual.

"They have about the same amount of snow as the Laurentians, but nonetheless the skiing is quite good," he said.

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Alpine ski areas have been able to compensate with the help of snow-making equipment.

"Ski areas that don't have snow-making will not survive — particularly if they're in the southwestern part of Quebec," he said.

"I don't think the next few months will make that much of a difference — assuming we don't get a major setback weather wise," he cautioned.

Thibaudeau added that normally most ski areas have made quite a bit of snow heading into February and March.

He said the ski region that is most sensitive to weather change is Quebec's Eastern Townships, which is more vulnerable if it gets rain and warm temperatures.

Melanie Morier, director of sales and marketing at the Mont-Orford ski resort, noted that because of the unpredictable climate, families and skiers are now doing short-term rather than long-term planning.

"They make decisions at the last minute. . .they follow the weather. . .they'll leave to go skiing for two days, three days (but) four days are extremely rare now," she said.

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Morier said skiers are looking for a big snowstorm before heading out, whereas in the past they would have planned their ski trips in advance.

"They will all leave on the same day because conditions have all come together," she added.

Morier is now keeping her fingers crossed for the upcoming spring school break, which in Quebec and New Brunswick is in early March.

"We've felt that spring break was not as strong in recent years because the weather wasn't great. . .we've had very cold spells and rain," she said.

But the American dollar has helped draw Ontarians to her ski centre during that province's spring break in mid-March.

"At least in the past year, the exchange rate was unfavourable , which means, instead of going to the United States, Ontarians head towards Quebec ski stations," she said.

Thibaudeau also had some other suggestions for outdoor enthusiasts who may not be skiers.

There's always snowshoeing and skating trails which he said have been growing in popularity in recent years.

Thibaudeau pointed to Parc John Molson, a two-kilometre skating trail through the woods in Saint-Sauveur, north of Montreal.

There are also about 15 kilometres of trails in the Trois-Rivieres region midway between Montreal and Quebec City.

Another skating trail is Parc du Grand Heron, a 2.5-kilometre stretch northwest of Quebec City.

"There are more and more of those developing and it's really fun.. . .it's not like skating on your behind-the-school rink," Thibaudeau said.

"People are discovering skating now because they have more comfortable skates than hockey skates — and they are inexpensive."

IF YOU GO: Check up on ski conditions across the province at https://maneige.ski/en/stations/

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