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Staff helps Titus overcome challenges, enjoy successful season

Titus Mountain Family Ski Center is seen from the air, with its three interconnected mountains, 10 lifts and 50 trails. (Provided photo — Christopher Lenney, Watertown Daily Times)

MALONE — Despite the obstacles and challenges of operating a ski mountain during the COVID-19 pandemic, Titus Mountain Family Ski Center’s staff worked hard to ensure skiers and snowboarders had a fun and safe season on the slopes.

According to Bruce Monette III, brand ambassador at Titus, though warm spring weather was an added challenge the ski mountain faced this year, he thought on the whole the season went well.

“Overall, it was a wonderful season,” Monette said, “We had many obstacles and challenges to overcome, but our staff stepped up to the plate and offered the guests an amazing, family-friendly environment.”

Monette credited the mountain’s snowmaking and grooming crew for their work this winter, explaining weather conditions did not always cooperate.

“With not getting as much snow as in the years past, I really have to tip my cap to the whole snowmaking and grooming crew,” Monette said, “They covered the mountain early in the year, put in a lot of late nights to get the mountain open as early as possible, and from many of our skiers and riders we heard it was the best conditions they had in a while.”

Monette said though snow totals were down, it did help having no thaw before the spring warmup.

“Although we may not have received as much snow as we have in the past, we never had a thaw,” Monette said, “Most winters we will get a five- to eight-day stretch of warm weather which can take a toll on the mountain, but this year it stayed below freezing for most of the winter, which helped keep a great base and amazing conditions for the skiers and riders.”

Monette said the last day of the ski season this year was Sunday, March 21.

“We normally get a couple of more weeks out of the ski season, but Mother Nature brought in abnormally warm temperatures for mid-March, with most days being in the 60s and a few even touching 70s,” Monette said, “It was great for the golfers and the golf course, but put a damper on the end of ski season.”

In 2020, Titus shut down for the season around the same point in March, according to Monette, who said the ski resort, and many other businesses around the state, were mandated to shut down due to the start of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Titus Mountain opened this season Dec. 18.

According to Monette, the border closure currently in place between U.S. and Canada impacted the Malone ski center, explaining a substantial portion of the mountain’s visitors hail from north of the border.

“The border closure definitely had an impact on the mountain,” Monette said, “We have a high amount of Canadian season pass holders, and we certainly missed them this year, and are hopeful and excited to have them back again next year. Along with our season pass holders, being so close to the border, many of our weekend warriors are Canadians, so we missed our day-trippers as well.”

However, Monette said the mountain did receive an uptick from in-state visitors due to quarantine requirements in New York and Vermont this winter.

“While we missed Canadians, we did see many more in-state visitors, first-time skiers or people that haven’t skied in many years getting back into the sport,” Monette said, “Families that normally may have gone over to ski in Vermont were now staying in New York, due to some of Vermont’s quarantine rules.”

Monette said he believed the cost and time required to quarantine in Vermont, helped to draw more New Yorkers to the Malone ski mountain and other ski resorts in the North Country.

“Therefore they stayed here and tried out some local mountains, and we are hopeful that they come back and visit us at Titus Mountain Family Ski Center,” Monette said.

According to Monette, some of the changes employed this winter at Titus proved popular with guests, including a new rental system and Titus’ new “skibanas.”

The skibanas are furnished and heated slope-side buildings, according to the ski center’s website, which states they come with a reserved parking spot and private restrooms.

“Our skibanas were a huge hit,” Monette said, “Guests loved being able to still visit the mountain, enjoy everything it has to offer, while remaining with just their families and not having to worry about going into the lodge if they didn’t want to.”

Monette said the mountain’s new ski rental system meant guests who pre-purchased rentals online found that their gear ready to go when they reached the slopes.

“We would have all of your gear set up for the skier or rider when they arrived at the mountain,” Monette said, “This made the guest experience that much more enjoyable, as they could just walk right in, get their gear and get out on the slopes as soon as possible.”

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