Chester Bowl Ski Hill closes for season after brutal winter forces 12+ closures

By KBJR News 1

March 23, 2014 Updated Mar 23, 2014 at 11:08 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Sure, Sunday was a little colder than some would prefer around this time, but it didn't stop the committed crew of Chester Bowl–goers from hitting the slopes.

"The wind has died down, and our lift line is growing longer," said Chester Bowl Co–Executive Director Dave Schaeffer, standing at the base of the hill. "Really, it's people just loving the last day of the ski season here, at Chester."

It's a bittersweet day, said Schaeffer, and not just because the snow pack is still solid for days of more skiing. Like many other winter attractions, the city–owned ski hill had to close 13 times this year.

With skiing—and the work behind operating the hill—being a volunteer–driven effort, Schaeffer said having as many open days as possible is a big part of keeping revenue coming to the park, and the non–profit Chester Bowl Improvement Club that runs the park's programming.

But Shaeffer said volunteers went the extra mile to make up for lost time.

"On snow days from school, we were able to open up as an extra time," said Schaeffer.

"We did have a couple of rainstorms that turned everything to ice," said Chester Bowl volunteer coordinator Sam Luoma, "but it really made the kids hearty this year."

The Freestyle Friday Coordinator said, if anything, the weather helped people appreciate the days that the hill was actually open.

While day ticket sales were hit hard this year, Luoma says most families buy seasonal memberships which secured most of Chester's winter revenue. But even if day ticket sales would've completely frozen because of the bitter winter, Luoma says they would've survived.

"We only charge $5.25 for a day ticket," laughed Luoma. "For a while we had the cheapest lift ticket in America. I don't know if that's the case anymore, but it's down there."

As the season came to a close Sunday afternoon the CBIC was already looking ahead to their summer camp schedule, content with a cold, but successful, ski season.

If anything, Schaeffer said it's the little ones that were robbed this year.

"I think the kids that just wanted to be out on the hill more, and adults too," added Schaeffer, "would've liked to have more days out here."

But no matter the season, Schaeffer says there's always something to do at Chester Bowl, and room for more volunteers.

If you'd like to know more about the upcoming summer programming that Chester Bowl hosts:

CHESTER BOWL WEBSITE

Billy Wagness
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