Sleeping Giant Awakens – “The Great Turnaround” is Open for Winter
Written by Andrew-Rossi on December 4, 2020
After months of uncertainty followed by salvation, Dec. 4 is the official opening day for the 2020-2021 season at the Sleeping Giant Ski Area and Zipline.
The ski area opens this morning for its first influx of winter recreation enthusiasts, who will be able to enjoy the traditional Sleeping Giant experience while savoring the newest additions that are bringing the state’s oldest ski hill into the 21st Century.
It’s been a dramatic year for Cody’s ski area – perhaps the most dramatic since opening for its first winter in 1936. It was only in January of this year that it seemed possible Sleeping Giant would never awaken for another winter.
On January 21st, the Yellowstone Recreations Foundation announced they were suspending winter operations for in 2020-2021 season after operating the ski area at a $200 thousand deficit for several years. Their announcement came with the unspoken implication that it might not reopen.
Enter Nick Piazza.
Piazza announced in October that he would be investing “a few hundred thousand” dollars into the area for general improvements, with the hope that Sleeping Giant would become “a great turnaround story.”
Under the guidance of Piazza and General Manager Mike Gimmeson, several aspects of the Sleeping Giant experience have been improved and many more added, which accounts for the largest investment in maintenance and infrastructure seen at the ski area in nearly 50 years:
- Night Skiing: Available on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 4-7 p.m., skiers will follow solar-powered LED streetlamps that will light up the mountain and guide their way
- Youth and Adult Racing Teams and Clubs: Management is currently gauging the community’s interest in a Friday night racing league for adults. They also hope to have the Cody High School Alpine Ski Team practicing on the mountain on Tuesday nights and hosting races during their upcoming season
- Freestyle Terrain Park: A lighted terrain park will be available for skiers and snowboarders to have some freestyle fun. A tubing lane is also in the plan and “in the works.”
- New Yurt: A 30-foot diameter yurt that will provide additional heated and comfortable space for guests. Construction is currently underway.
- Snowmaking Capabilities: Crews are working to prepare the hill’s snowmaking efforts to ensure the system is ready to make snow as soon as temperatures are low enough.
- Online Ticket Sales, Rentals, and More: The goal is to reduce line wait times and improving the guest service experience; Sleeping Giant is working on website improvements and is developing a mobile application to enable online purchases of lift tickets, rentals, lessons, and even food orders.
Piazza has also created several partnerships with local businesses and ski areas in Wyoming and Montana to incentivize Sleeping Giant season passes, adding to its reputation as the most affordable ski hill in the region and one of the best values of any ski hill in the state.
The eventual goal is for Sleeping Giant Ski Area and Zipline – both managed under Community Mountain LLC – to acheive and maintain zero-loss operations within a few years. Piazza doesn’t see himself profitting from Sleeping Giant – for him and his team, this is for the benefit and future of Cody and the Bighorn Basin as a whole.
After so much uncertainty followed by salvation delbierate and productive work, the great turnaround can now be witnessed and appreciated by the public.
There is snow on the mountain – the time for winter fun has come.