Mike Wiegele's Helicopter Skiing announced today (Jan. 13) that they would shut down skiing operations for the remainder of the season. The final decision was made when public health orders were extended to Feb. 5. (Mike Wiegele's Helicopter Skiing Facebook page, John Schwirtlich Photography)

Wiegele’s ends operations for 2020/21 season

The team is optimistic about future seasons

Internationally-known skiing company Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing announced today the decision not to continue with the 2020/21 season, focusing instead on the future and seasons ahead.

Like many tourism businesses in the North Thompson, Wiegele’s, as it is commonly known, had to shut down skiing operations last March with the announcement of the COVID-19 pandemic, unsure when they would be able to open up to the public again.

But the business was able to open over the summer as they operate two motels in the town of Blue River.

When it was made clear that there wouldn’t be many international travellers, the company changed gear for the upcoming season and started to focus on the local market. While there was some traction, locals were weary about travel, said Matic Vecko, general manager for Wiegele’s.

The decision to shut down for the remainder of the season came after Dr. Bonnie Henry’s announcement on Jan. 7 to extend current provincial health orders until Feb. 5.

“The hard part of this, of course, is it impacts so many people,” said Vecko. “By now we would be providing jobs for around 250 people here in Blue River…That’s our focus, how to mitigate that and how to support all of our staff.”

Most of the staff are local, hailing from nearby Clearwater, Valemount and Kamloops, in addition to other areas, and their guides come from all over British Columbia. The management team at Wiegele’s have kept their staff members in the loop, having weekly and montly meetings.

“Since June we’ve been saying, ‘These are our plans, but have a back-up plan,’” said Vecko. “No one’s surprised, we’ve been keeping in touch with our staff, which doesn’t make it any easier.”

Safety is also very important to the group, and while the decision wasn’t made lightly, it helped to make their decision to not operate for the rest of the season. Vecko added that the town of Blue River is quite small and the nearest clinic is about an hour away, adding to that element of commitment to safety.

“There is no medical facilities here, so for us to be potentially bringing people into this community right now, it felt the right thing to do,” he said.

About 80 to 90 per cent of their customer base is international, and another large chunk are repeat customers, leading the Wiegele’s team to be optimistic about the future.

“We’re very optimistic about next winter,” said Vecko. “The main comment from most of our guests is, ‘You know what, we’re going to make up for this next year.’”

He added he expects the pent up demand for not just skiing but all outdoor activities to be huge this year in B.C.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

A woman wearing a protective face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
115 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths in Interior Health

There are now a total of 4,970 cases in the region

Jacob Gardner (Fort St. John, B.C.) marking the highest score of the night of 84.5 on Pozobon Bucking Bulls’ 94 Jason’s Dream. This photo originally appeared in the Jan. 14, 2016, issue of the Times.
10 YEARS AGO: Twenty-seven brave souls take the plunge

40 YEARS AGO: Although mining concerns are not known to be among… Continue reading

(Unsplash photo)
“Are you printing the truth yet?”

Right from my first days in the editor’s chair, I have had a handful of locals tell me they know the secrets to solving COVID-19 — but fail to provide support.

File photo
Man tells RCMP he’s being chased, is later arrested

RCMP looking for witnesses of head-on collision Jan. 10

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Most Read