From high on the hill you look down on the scarred expanse of snow; a breeze bites at your cheeks, nose and ears, and you breathe deep of air made crisp with the dry cold of winter. Lean forward now, weight balanced over the boots holding your ankles rigid, and begin to slide. The ground slips away under you, faster and faster; if you’re experienced, you either crouch, racing for the bottom as though howling furies ride your heels, or you plant a pole and turn, zig-zagging across the face of the hill with powder flying at every change of direction. Or maybe you’re less experienced, and so you stay on the gentler slopes and snowplow down, fast enough to get a thrill, but never so speedily that you feel completely out of control.
What’s the story?
Welch Village has long been a fixture in the Welch/Vasa/Eagle Mills/Red Wing area. Opened for the first time in 1965 by brothers Clemens and Leigh Nelson and their families, that first year there were five runs, a T-bar and rope tow, and a home-designed and built snow making system. The first few years were rough, full of bad weather and debt, but the Nelson brothers persisted, and today 9 chairlifts serve 60 runs over a 140 acre span. There are chalets with food, equipment rental and lockers for personal storage, a ski school, and even a terrain park for those with the desire to snowboard.
The hill difficulties range from the easy-peasy gentle slope of Heidi’s Hollow and Ski Shule to the narrow, steep, tree-studded double diamond Stone Face. With spring, summer and fall now gone, the folks at Welch are busily making snow – weather permitting! – and ramping up for a season full of fine powder and swift runs.
At Welch Village, downhill skiing is for everyone, and this is a great place to go for it! Ted, I and our younger brother Terrence took Terry’s wife Maria skiing for the first time this year at Welch. As she was learning to move around on the skis, squealing every time she started to slide, I watched the yellow-vested instructors coaching their classes. Off to one side of the main hill is a short, easy slope with a “magic carpet” to carry the students back up, but it’s open during scheduled lesson times only. The Skilink School teaches a parallel ski method – the Primary Movements Teaching System – not the traditional wedge or snowplow, and they guarantee you will be skiing faster and with more confidence than if you learned by the traditional methods. Given they are the only ski hill in the Midwest qualified to teach the PMTS, I’m inclined to believe them. Plus, I was watching them teach, and everything the instructors told their students to do made perfect sense to me.
This early in the year, you’ll have to keep yourself posted via the website for news on which runs are open and on what days, but they’ve been open already, and they are devoted to creating a great and long-lasting season of experiences for those who enjoy skiing and snowboarding!
26685 County Road 7 Blvd, PO Box 146, Welch, Minnesota, 55089
Generally open from mid-November to late March, depending on weather; Monday-Thursday – 10:00am to 9:00pm, Friday-Saturday – 9:00am to 10:00pm, Sunday – 9:00am to 9:00pm
Holiday hours: Closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day; Christmas Eve, open 9:00 to 2:00; from December 26th through January 1st, plus January 21st and February 18th, open at 9:00.
Adults are ages 11-61; Seniors are 62+, Youth are 5-10. Lift Ticket – Adult, full day, $49; Adult, afternoon (after 1:00), $43; Adult, night (after 4:00 PM), $37; Youth and Seniors – full day, afternoon, night – $44, $38, and $32. Rentals: Adult Recreational Package, $30; Youth (8 years and younger), $15; Snowboard package, $30. Helmets are available for all ages, $8. Also available are both individual and group lessons. Some lesson packages even include a Season Pass in the price!
E-mail – email@example.com; Phone – (651) 258-4567