Whitefish resort skier visits climb 11 percent

Record-breaking season

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Shae Heberling soars above the nearly pure white environment at Big Mountain on Friday, March 22, in Whitefish.

Whitefish Mountain Resort has finished off a winter season with total skier visits up 11 percent compared to last year.

That sets a new season record for total skier visits, which includes daily paid lift-ticket sales and season pass holder visits. The resort’s season comes to a close today, after Saturday’s big event — the pond skim for costumed skiers and snowboarders that attracted hundreds of spectators near the village area.

The biggest days of the season came early on, as the resort was 100 percent open by Christmas.

“We broke some records during the Christmas week,” said Riley Polumbus, the resort’s public relations manager.

On Dec. 29, there was a new record with 4,252 single-day paid visitors. And the next day, the record was broken with 4,750 single-day paid visitors.

Dec. 30 turned out to be the busiest day ever on the Big Mountain, with a total of 7,165 visitors including season pass holders.

Polumbus said season pass sales were up slightly over last year, but the biggest gains have been with daily lift-ticket sales.

The resort also had a 50 percent increase in daily lessons for children ages 3 to 6, which Polumbus largely attributes to local families.

“We have more people coming here and they are taking advantage of lessons and they are young families, so it looks good for the future,” she said.

The resort has a new “vertical king” — Whitefish skier Tony Cooper, who amassed 5,464,570 vertical feet on the mountain as of April 3. Every time season pass holders board a lift, their pass is scanned and the vertical feet gained is recorded. Chair One, for instance, amounts to 2,084 vertical feet.

The resort’s website has a feature that displays each pass holder’s vertical feet numbers for the season.

“There’s a lot of people who just have fun with it and there are people who take it pretty seriously and check their vertical feet every morning,” Polumbus said.

The previous record holder was Chris “Chappy” Chapman of Whitefish, who descended 5,306,096 vertical feet during the 2003-2004 season.

Reporter Jim Mann may be reached at 758-4407 or by email at jmann@dailyinterlake.com.

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