Skiers, Snowboarders Fill Spirit Mountain on Last Day of Season; Officials Excited for Summer Activities
After a much warmer winter coupled with financial hardships worsened by the pandemic, officials say Spirit has fared the roller coaster of a season well.
DULUTH, Minn.- Despite Sunday’s spring-like temperatures, many headed to the Northland’s slice of winter for Spirit Mountain’s last day of the season for skiers and snowboarders — one officials there called a roller-coaster.
“We’ve got sunshine, we’ve got warm temps, we have smiling faces, families that are having a blast,” said Co-Director of Resort Services Jon Regenold.
The last day of shredding was warm one, appropriate for the warmer winter. “It’s been great. Kind of a short season with the warmer weather but it’s enjoyable, I love being up here,” said Hunter Mai coming from Grand Rapids.
After a much warmer winter coupled with financial hardships worsened by the pandemic, Regenold says Spirit has fared the roller coaster of a season well. “We are very pleased with how this year ended up.”
“We saw families that came that hadn’t been for quite a while,” he said. “We saw really people that wanted to be outside during the pandemic come and visit us this winter.”
And not just local people, Spirit’s location in Duluth has made it easier for families from as far as the cities to stop by for activities to do out of the house.
“Skied this morning in Lutsen, and we’re catching a few runs here on our way back to the Cities,” said Kerry Bollman of St. Paul said. “This is a day trip from the Cities. Lutsen’s a little bit far to ski up and back-or to drive up and back from the Cities and ski just in one day. But this seems like you can do in a day.”
Meanwhile staff says customers handled the changing COVID protocols well. “Very thankful that we’ve even made it this far through the winter and everybody’s been respectful with the COVID guidelines and just been a really awesome winter,” said Hank McEvoy of the Parks Crew.
The end of the season comes as the city-appointed Spirit Mountain Taskforce released their recommendations to improve its financial state.
One of those — marketing Spirit Mountain as more than just a skiing and snowboarding destination. “We’re looking at how, Spirit is really the year round assets,” Regenold said.
“Where it was developed as a recreation area to begin with and so taking on that mission and taking on that foresight is actually really good,” he said.
This, after it lost all summer business last year due to money struggles. “We took the season off from last summer. The base area here in the summer months down at Grand Avenue, really becomes kind of the epicenter of that summertime,” said Regenold.
Warm weather activities will include the Alpine Coaster, hiking opportunities, and lift access downhill mountain biking.
“I’ve heard they’ve got some pretty good Mountain Biking options here,” said Ian Bradley, hitting the slopes with his brothers. “I haven’t done it myself but fellow Bradley; you do it quite a bit. So he’s into it.”
According to Regenold, spirit will also host weddings and banquets this summer to continue recovering. “We’re prepared to take every opportunity we can to make sure that Spirit remains healthy.”
On Sunday, slush started overtaking the browning snow. But that didn’t shake people off the slopes. “It slows down your snowboard a bit but yeah it’s still fun,” said Mai.
“Like right now it’s so slushy that you can try your new tricks or whatever you’re doing and if you fall it’s kind of a softer impact,” he said.
They continued shredding until the season’s end. “It’s always beautiful to be out here,” said Bradley.
“It’s sad that it’s gotta come to an end but it’ll open back up stronger than ever next year,” he said.