NEIHART — While some people are enjoying the lack of snow this winter, it is an issue for snow-related activities such as skiing. Showdown Montana, located about 65 miles southeast of Great Falls, has yet to open for the season.
“The snow always comes,” George Clark-Gold, Digital Marketing Director for Showdown said, “It's just this season, it's just taking a little longer than we'd like it to.”
Despite not much snow in the past few months and little snow predicted for the future, the staff at Showdown is optimistic.
“Last year we were pretty spoiled being able to open on Black Friday,” Clark-Gold said, “But, you know, the year before that, we opened on December 16th, so it's not as late as it feels. I think we were just kind of riding off the high of last year's amazing snow season.”
Showdown’s owner Katie Boedecker is hoping to be open for the week of Christmas, which is the biggest week of the ski season for Showdown. Within that week they make most of the money that carries them through the summer. Without much snow predicted, it is hard to say if this goal is achievable or not.
“If it doesn't snow she's going to have a real tough, tough summer coming up,” George Willett, consultant and previous owner of Showdown said, “Because…we have very little revenue in the summer and she's working on new revenue streams but those take time to get going.”
Willett was the owner of Showdown from 1973 until 2020, when he sold it to his daughter Katie Boedecker. In the past, Willett has seen later openings than they expect this year, once being unable to open until December 28.
Even if it is not the latest Showdown has opened, there is still a strain on the employees at the mountain.
“Not being open, it's pretty hard on everyone, from our skiers and our employees,” Clark-Gold said, “You know, we have a lot of seasonal employees that are currently on hold right now. They are eligible for job attached unemployment, but it's just hard, especially going into the holidays. We'd love to have people working.”
Showdown has no snow machine, and so making snow is out of the question. According to Willett, there has only been a handful of bad ski seasons since the 1970s, and so investing in the equipment necessary to produce fake snow does not seem reasonable as of now. In the meantime, Willett is doing anything and everything he can to change the weather.
““All you can do is pray for snow,” Willett said, “The big guy’s in charge.”
The current plan for Showdown is to open on December 23. Clark-Gold said that they are not against staying open later than usual to make up for the lost time if there is interest and the weather is permitting.
Click here to visit the Showdown website.