FREELAND, Michigan (WJRT) - (11/09/2018) - When a Mid-Michigan ski resort cancels a ski season, It's impact is felt by more than just winter sports enthusiasts.
"Right when they closed, our business just shot down, so we had to start thinking of different things to bring people in here," said Garrett Zimostrad, an assistant manager at Stable Outdoor Outfitters in Old Town, the oldest ski shop in the area.
Apple Mountain shut down its snow season early in February of 2017 because of a pipe problem, and the decision was made to scrap skiing and snowboarding the following season.
A recently published statement on its website says following careful consideration, the slopes at Apple Mountain will remain closed for the 'foreseeable future'.
For some, this means the end of an era in Freeland, while for others, the closure is proving to be a little more costly.
"We've seen a significant drop in the amounts of kids skiing now," said Zimostrad.
He says they've had to re-vamp their junior trade-in program to help improve sales now that they're no longer sending kids to Apple Mountain.
"We offer a free season pass to Caberfae and Shanty Creek now which kind of bumped it back up a bit," he said.
News of the slopes closure for the 'foreseeable' future comes as no surprise to Saginaw Township Community Schools Athletic Director Peter Ryan, who says Apple Mountain has been in contact with him throughout this whole process.
"Have kind of indicated that it probably would not happen this year," Ryan said,"just with the amount of work that they'd have to do, potentially to open."
The biggest impact for the school district is the added drive time for students and their parents:
"They have to commute to Snow Snake on Mondays for meets in January, and then they'll commute two days a week probably, Tuesdays and Thursdays for practices," Ryan said.
"I understand it was somewhat of a business decision," Ryan said, "it's a big investment and we haven't had great winters for skiing the past few years."
When the changes first took place last season, student participation dropped off.
Fortunately, student participation on the ski team at Heritage High School is back up this year.
But for those for whom Apple Mountain may have been their only opportunity to ski, the move is a disheartening one:
"That's pretty disappointing," said Saginaw resident Lynette Smith, "because a lot of the children, that's the only place they'll ever get a chance to ski."
"It was the perfect spot for the community, for us to grow up, to develop as skiers and snowboarders," said Saginaw resident Chris Lange.
While the slopes will not see anyone on skis this winter, operations of the Mountain View Restaurant, golf course, conference center and event spaces will continue as normal.
To read the entire Winter Operations Update, just click on the link published to the right of this story.