WEST OF CHOTEAU — Despite having a less than ideal amount of snow, Teton Pass Ski Resort was open Friday - and in fact, the ski area actually opened a bit early for the 2020-2021 season.
"Super excited,” Teton Pass Ski Resort owner Charles Hlavac said about being open.
If you've been waiting to hear the sound of the slopes, not knowing the resort was open, Hlavac said that was by design: "We did a very soft opening and kind of intentionally didn't market that; just to get open, try to feel out the new COVID procedures and policies we've implemented."
As of Friday, the implementation had been just about as smooth as skiing through fresh powder.
"People have really been compliant with what we're asking them to do,” said Hlavac.
Changes include masks being mandatory on the lift and complying with all the governor's mandates indoors.
"Talking with ski areas across the state and around the nation, everyone's run into some hiccups and there's certainly some problem areas. We anticipate and expect some of that push back. It's just sort of the way things have been going. But as we like to say, we just want to stay open this year so we're doing everything we can to not be part of that problem,” Hlavac said.
As of Friday, about 70 percent of the ski area was open. Hlavac expected 100 percent of the area to be open in time for the Christmas holiday.
Click here to visit the Teton Pass website for more information, including how to get there.
(FEBRUARY 2020) After Teton Pass Ski Resort closed for two years, Charles Hlavac decided it was time to offer the 60-year-old resort a bit of a lift. Now halfway into his first season as owner, Hlavac said business and snow have been picking up.
“The fact that we’re open is a win. The fact that we’re doing as well as we are and the snow is just fantastic this year is super helpful. It's one of those things that three inches of rain makes every farmer look good and a big snow year like this makes every ski area look good,” Hlavac said.
As a long-time member of Teton Pass Ski Resort, Hlavac rose from the role of ski instructor to ski patrol on to general manager, until finally taking on the title of owner in August. The avid skier felt it was his duty to keep the resort up-and-running.
“It's been kind of a passion of mine for a long time. I managed the place for 6 years prior so when it went for sale and didn’t open for the last two seasons it seemed like one of those things where the campfire just went out and someone needed to pick it up and relight it,” Hlavac said.
But as a first-time resort owner, Hlavac tried to keep his expectations realistic. “We got a late start. I bought it in August. We didn't have enough time to get all the marketing and all the hype built up,” Hlavac said.
Despite having only a few months to reopen the resort, Teton Pass Ski Resort had a successful season. “The crowds have been fantastic. The local support has been great. We feel like…’it’s happening’,” he said.
For Hlavac and Teton Pass customers, Teton is home. “The main thing is to try to make this place sustainable and...everybody coming back to their home mountain,” Hlavac said.
That’s been the case for one couple: Carole Bronson and Terry Barch, who have spent the past twenty years traversing Teton's slopes. "It's been a great place for twenty years, but it's never been better than it is now,” Bronson said.
Bronson said that’s due to the resort’s new ownership. “The people that own it and are running it - they’re avid skiers themselves and you feel like you’re with your family,” Bronson said.
Bronson's husband said skiers develop a sense of camaraderie on the slopes: "If you don’t know somebody, by the end of the day you will know them,” Barch said.
The resort will remain open through April. Click here to visit the Facebook page.