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Signature skiing

Ski Pure Michigan campaign comes to Upper Peninsula

Marquette Mountain is featured in the Ski Pure Michigan video series. Footage was being shot this week at resorts in the western Upper Peninsula. (Photo courtesy of Ski Pure Michigan)

MARQUETTE — Think you know your local ski hills? They might have features you didn’t know about.

Otie McKinley, media and communications manager for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, was in the Upper Peninsula this week for Travel Michigan, the tourism arm of the MEDC that includes the popular Pure Michigan advertising campaign.

A crew visited the Big Powderhorn Mountain Resort, based in Bessemer, after Travel Michigan started an inaugural video series called Ski Pure Michigan in 2020, he said.

The link to the series, which is at michigan.org/skipuremichigan, spotlights signature snow sports destinations across the state.

McKinley said the videos describe signature ski runs as well as local amenities and additional opportunities at the resorts beyond just skiing, such as cross country skiing, tubing, fat tire biking, snowshoeing or an elaborate children’s area.

The videos are between 90 seconds and 2 minutes long, he said.

“It’s proven to be really well received, and the resorts love being promoted, as you can imagine,” McKinley said of the video series. “And ultimately, what we’re trying to do is drive people to these ski resorts that they may or may not have ever heard of.”

The videos include the Marquette Mountain Resort, which is featured in Season 1, Episode 12. McKinley was the guide for a tour of Snowfield, a signature run.

“Running right down the face of the mountain, this trail was wide, fun and fast — really fast,” McKinley says in the video.

McKinley said 12 ski areas were in the first wave of videos, and this year, 10 more will be highlighted.

On the current leg filming the series this week, the spotlights are the Indianhead Mountain and Blackjack resorts, which are nestled at the base of Big Powderhorn Mountain and are part of Big Snow Resort.

Again, signature runs are series spotlights.

“Here at Indianhead, they have a run that’s a mile long,” McKinley said.

Of course, the resorts are not identical.

Indianhead is more of a “family-friendly” ski area than Blackjack, he noted, which has more challenging runs.

The two ski areas are located between Bessemer and Wakefield, meaning two resorts are within a mile of each other, he said.

“One of the unique things about that is because of the proximity, you can buy one lift pass and ski Indianhead in the morning, grab lunch and then go ski Blackjack in the afternoon,” McKinley said. “So you get two resorts for the price of one lift ticket.”

This scenario could benefit out-of-town travelers.

For instance, skiers coming from Marquette on Friday night could ski two resorts on Saturday and be home in time for the 10 o’clock news, McKinley said.

Ski resorts have evolved over time too, and provide snowboarding and other activities as well as pure skiing opportunities. Marquette Mountain, for example, has a terrain park with rails, boxes and wedges to help skiers enhance their abilities.

“Some families consist of folks that some do and some don’t like to ski, and so, when you can diversify the opportunities and activities for folks, it really makes it more of an all-encompassing trip for the family,” McKinley said.

That diversity can enhance the experience during the age of COVID-19, which is requiring a different way of operating.

Big Snow Resort indicated on its website at bigsnow.com that COVID-19 protocols require the use of masks in the buildings and at the lift lines, along with other restrictions.

Marquette Mountain said on its website at marquettemountain.com that face coverings are required at all times to access the mountain, including at the base of the mountain, riding chairlifts, tents and indoors.

So, safety and a diversity of snow experiences can be a good combination.

“It just really makes for an exciting outdoor adventure, and in today’s day and age, we’re seeing more and more people migrate to outdoor activities because they feel safer,” McKinley said. “You see skiing on the hill — people are wearing masks, they’re doing the right thing.

“Skiing is a socially distant sport to begin with, and so as long as we all continue to do our part and stay safe, the ski industry will continue to grow.”

Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.

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