What does “Pretty Vacant,” “Head Over Feet,” and “Gold Digger” have in common?
Besides being part of an eclectic playlist, the song titles are actually names to some of the runs on the newly-developed Grey Mountain at Red Mountain Resort.
Traveling down “Long May You Run” was an emotional journey for a former Warfield couple who didn’t anticipate tears before they even hit “Cory’s Run,” a sign in memory of their son Cory McOrmond.
Rocky and Barb McOrmond of Revelstoke visited Rossland’s ski hill alone to experience the memorial run that recognizes their son who died tragically at 22 years old in a hit and run in Grande Prairie, Alta., Aug. 25, 2012.
“It’s been 18 months since we lost our son and he’s still making us proud,” said Barb. “We were honoured that Red Resort would pay tribute to Cory’s legacy because snowboarding meant everything to him.”
The 2008 J. L. Crowe graduate competed in snowboard cross with Kootenay Riders before he began teaching Level 1 snowboarding at the mountain the same year he graduated. The keen instructor was eager to teach beginners and always with a smile.
His name was fittingly brought up when it came down to labelling the 22 runs on the nearly 1,000 acres of terrain that opened up this season with the newly developed peak.
“It really impacted our resort and our ski school and while we were building the mountain and naming runs, we were approached by our director of ski school to consider naming a run after him,” said Howard Katkov, president and CEO of Red Mountain Ventures. “We have another run called ‘Schulz Trees’ and it’s not a memorial because (Mike) Schulz is at 94 still kicking quite nicely.”
Schulz has been an iconic figure in Rossland for about 60 years, said Katkov, who considers him one of the most passionate Red supporters.
“He probably was involved in every element of construction of every chairlift in the resort from 1976,” said Katkov. “He’s just a great man and deserves naming, not unlike ‘Rino’s Run’ (named after long-time ski patroller Rino DeBiasio).”
Most of the remaining names are song titles, a strategic decision made by the resort that continues to focus on music as a core part of its entertainment. Rafters Lounge, the bar at the main lodge, hosts bands regularly in conjunction with events like this past weekend’s Beer Goggles Craft Beer Festival, which had indie rockers The Thermals playing the after party.
Music is a key element in the future of the resort that now has a total skiable terrain of 2,787 acres, which puts it on par with world-class resorts like Breckenridge, Colorado, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in terms of area.
“In the last three years in concert with the development of Grey Mountain, the expansion, we’ve been re-pivoting our resort in terms of marketing for not just the baby boomers but the millennials,” explained Katkov. “We are repositioning this brand for the next 50 years.”
Grey’s growing pains
The new chapter at Red Mountain Resort began when the chairlift on Grey Mountain opened for the first time Dec. 14.
But with so much excitement this season, Katkov admits there have been some growing pains.
A 67-year-old man started skiing on Grey Mountain late last month but wound up in the Esling Creek area, the same region 10 skiers from Washington and two American boy scouts were found in late December.
“We’re very proactive on signage and double signage and this summer we’re going to consider a permanent fence in one area but the people who have gotten lost clearly went under the ropes . . .” said Katkov.
“You cannot put a fence around a ski resort anymore than you can put a fence around a border but having said that, we’re going to review it this summer and potentially do something more permanent that will try to sync a message into these people who love powder.”