Corner Brook -
You don't have to remind the folks at Marble Mountain that when it rains, it pours.
Not only have incredibly unseasonable weather conditions wreaked havoc on the start of the downhill ski season at the Steady Brook resort, but the only day the slopes have been able to open was cut short by a mechanical breakdown of the only lift accessing the skiable runs.
Marble finally opened for the first time Saturday, with an enthusiastic crowd on hand to boot, but had to shut down just three hours later when the motor driving the Newfie Bullet quad chair was lost.
"We have mechanical issues with all of our lifts at some point," said Alli Johnston, Marble Mountain's marketing co-ordinator.
"It's just unfortunate. Because of the weather we've been having, it was the only lift we had to access the two runs we had open. If the weather was better and we had lots of snow, this wouldn't be as big an issue for us."
Marble Mountain's lifts are inspected every fall by a provincial lift inspector. The Newfie Bullet passed inspection about two weeks before Christmas, Johnston said, and recently underwent a complete electrical overhaul.
"The issue with the motor is not connected to the electrical overhaul," she said.
It is hoped the lift will be repaired in time to open up the lower slopes again Friday. The two slopes which were open Saturday were the Cruiser and the Jigger.
"We don't like having a ski lift down, but if we were going to pick a time, this is actually a pretty good one, because the first two weeks of January always tend to be the slowest time of year," Johnston said. "That is industry-wide with people having done their Christmas ski vacations and having returned to work."
While there is a woeful supply of natural snow, the artificial snow Marble Mountain has been able to manufacture when conditions have been suitable has been holding up in the mild temperatures. In fact, groomer/operator Tony Abbott was able to take some of that artificial snow and make a path to Marble Villa so guests there would be able to ski directly to and from their accommodations.
"That will give you an idea of how dense and rock solid that snow is," Johnston said. "We do obviously need natural snow and for the weather to turn cold again so we can continue snowmaking, but once the lift is repaired and up and running again, we should be back on the go. Hopefully, we'll be back on track by Friday."
Johnston could not say when the rest of Marble's slopes might be ready to open.
According to Environment Canada's weather forecast for Marble Mountain, mixed precipitation with amounts of one to three millimetres of rain and one to three centimetres was expected to fall between Monday evening and this afternoon.
The extended forecast calls for scattered flurries Wednesday and a return to mixed precipitation Thursday.
Temperatures should dip to below freezing Friday with scattered flurries Friday and Saturday turning to light snow Sunday with more than 10 centimetres expected to fall during the coming weekend.