Downhill disappointment: racing teams feel abandoned by ski hill sale
Racing teams feel abandoned by ski hill sale
After 70 years, Toggenburg Mountain in Fabius will close down, leaving ski racers with no place to train, Brett King, President of the Toggenburg Junior Association, said.
“In general, everybody is extremely upset,” King said. “We are currently trying to, first of all, figure out what is going to be in the best interests of our racers and help guide families into programs that will then assist in these goals.”
According to Syracuse.com, Toggenburg closed down soon after being sold to Peter Harris, who also owns Song and Labrador Mountains. It is unclear what will happen next at Toggenburg. Harris did not respond to inquiries regarding this matter.
King said he and fellow skiers wished they had more of a say with the sale.
“The sale was just kept very quiet,” King said. “We wish we could have had more of an ability to have a say in even purchasing as part of the sale of the mountain.”
Luke Weisiger, 16, of Manlius, grew up skiing at Toggenburg since he was 5 years old. He followed in his older sister’s footsteps and fell in love with ski racing and with Toggenburg, he said.
“On the last day of our ski racing season… I would never guess it would be closing,” Weisiger said. “If I knew, I would have probably skied every single day.”
Weisiger will start his junior year at Fayetteville-Manlius High School this fall and the closure will affect his future.
“I want to try and ski in college,” he said. “It’s going to affect me because we probably won’t be able to train as much and I won’t be able to get the ability to keep skiing every day.”
Right before the COVID-19 shutdown, Weisiger ranked first in New York for the boys U-19 division. He credited his talent and growth to both Toggenburg Mountain and his coach, Tyler Travis.
“I started the afternoon program for Tyler Travis and we skied almost every day,” he said. “I just fell in love with the mountain and I fell in love with the people there. It’s crazy that it’s shutting down. It’s just, it’s insane.”
Weisiger said he will either follow his coach to a new mountain or enroll in a ski academy.
Mackenzie Gregg, 22, of Cazenovia, not only grew up skiing at Toggenburg, but also practiced on the mountain with the Colgate University ski team. She said in both high school and college, she met her best friends through skiing.
Gregg worries about the amount of space at Song and Labrador Mountains. Toggenburg held practices and races for ski racing teams from Toggenburg, Syracuse University and Colgate University, she said. Traffic from both the ski teams and general public must be diverted to the other two small mountains, which also have racing teams.
“It’s a matter of juggling,” Gregg said. “I know [Song and Labrador Mountains] are dealing with a lot right now with just planning because there are practices and races that they have to hold, and then still having space on the hill for the general public.”
King also voiced concern about space at Song and Labrador.
“Training is going to be that much harder,” he said. “Another large concern is the size that the programs will become. Are they going to be manageable at the different mountains?”
Toggenburg prided itself for not only fostering a strong ski environment but also holding well-organized races, according to King. He said the mountain hosted six races last year and the state is sad the mountain is no longer a venue.
“People like to go there,” Gregg said. “You don’t really need the bells and whistles and a resort town to enjoy the sport of skiing.”
King said the silver lining of this disappointing time is the reaction from other racing organizations. Many programs are showing support and banding together to figure out the best situation for the kids, he said.
“When you’re a kid that ski races, it’s like your second home… you’re there every day after school and it is sad to think I won’t be able to bring my kids to see where I learned to ski,” Gregg said. “It’s going to be weird to have a winter without just going over to Togg.”
Weisiger agreed and added he hopes the new owners will reconsider.
“I beg them to open it again,” he said. “It’s home.”