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Snowflake Ski Jumping Tournament means good business for Westby

Published On: Jan 26 2013 05:30:16 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 26 2013 07:18:33 PM CST
WESTBY, Wis. -

In less than a week, skiers from all over the world be in Westby for the annual Snowflake Ski Jumping Tournament.

Dozens of volunteers were out bright and early Saturday morning to finish final preparations on the hill.

They've already clocked at least 200 hours of snow making time and hundreds more grooming and setting up the course.

Last year's tournament, crews had a little bit of trouble keeping the snow from melting because of the warm weather.

Even with a slight warm up expected later this week, the warmer temps might actually come in handy.

“It will probably help the snow because right now the snow is pretty sugary, so the warm up this week will wettin' it up a little bit and we'll get the guys up the rakes and we'll rake her out,” said Scott Yttri, of the Snowflake Ski Club.

The event draws in about 6,000 spectators for the weekend and that is a welcome site to see for local businesses.

The winter months are generally the slower time of year for a lot of hotels and restaurants in Westby, but the extra boost in sales isn't the only thing at least one business is looking forward to.

In the city of 2,200 people, the first weekend of February is kind of a big deal.

“It's a really big deal,” said Blane Charles, owner of Borgen’s Cafe. “People are always excited and there's always a buzz about the ski jump.”

Come next weekend, Charles said his restaurant will be staying pretty busy.

“We'll have a couple of extra servers and an extra cook on duty,” said Charles.
The extra business the event brings in is something Charles looks forward to every year, especially in the cold winter months.

“It's the bright spot in the winter time,” said Charles. “Winter is traditionally a slower time for us, and so this weekend is more like a typical weekend in the summer time.”

“We wouldn't have anything great to help our businesses in the winter if we didn't have this event,” said Trish Evenstad, the executive director of the Westby Area Chamber of Commerce.

Evenstad also said the many small unique gift shops see profits jump when the tournament is in town, but the impact doesn't stop there.

“Hotels have a waiting list and the restaurants are full, and of course, the gas stations and the grocery stores see an increase, and so it's great for the community,” said Evenstad.

So as the countdown to the event continues, Charles said more business isn't the only thing he's is excited for.

“It's fun,” said Charles.” You get to meet people (and) you can see a lot of new faces people from literally all over the world. It's just a fun time.”

Charles recently remodeled two vacation rental apartments located above his cafe.

Both are completely booked for the tournament. He said the new additions should bring in about another 500 dollars in profits.

The tournament will take place next weekend February first and second.

For more information, head to snowflakeskiclub.com.

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