Skiers and snowboarders who take to the slopes this season at Apex Mountain will be travelling through a legacy in the form of two new runs created in honour of one of the mountains owners.
The new runs debuting this year, Sweet Louise and Golden Eagle, were created to mark the legacy of a majority owner, Louise Burgart, who was found dead in her home on Jan. 25.
Kelsey Martin and Mitch Martin, cousins and Burgart’s niece and nephew who work in events and guest services at Apex, remember her fondly and said the community around the mountain was impacted greatly by the loss.
Burgart was part of the group of owners that purchased the mountain in 1997 and Kelsey has been working alongside her on the mountain since she started as a lift operator at 13.
“Everyone had so much love for her as a woman. She brought out the best in everyone. She was one of those people. When it comes to work or anything you needed help with, she would just try and help you to the best of her ability,” Kelsey said.
“She was the most hands-on owner. She was the owner that was here managing everything, she would relay everything to the other owners, what was going on. She did everything really,” Mitch said.
He said that if any of the many fields on the mountain needed help, Burgart was there, and would treat a lot of the foreign workers that would come from Australia or New Zealand to Christmas dinners and pancake breakfasts.
The intermediate run, Sweet Louise, is more than just a name.
“She was just a really positive person to have on the mountain,” Mitch said.
The double black diamond run, Golden Eagle, which heads from the top of the mountain and extends into the Sweet Louise run, is a reference to her work with First Nations schools in School District 91, where Burgart was a principal and superintendent.
Her death was related to congestive heart failure, and was unexpected by those who live and work on the mountain.
“It was kind of a surprise because she was a fit, active woman,” Mitch said, noting that Burgart ran the Boston Marathon three years ago.
“It was quite sudden. I had noticed she hadn’t been here for a couple of days which is not like Louise. Even if she was not working that day she would always come just to check up and say hello,” Kelsey said. “It was sad, but we were together, we had each other.”
The idea to name the runs after Burgart was received without hesitation from the Apex community.
“Everyone on the mountain thought of her so highly that it wasn’t even a question, it was just something to commemorate her, we needed something like that,” Mitch said.
The permanence of the run which will be travelled by generations to come holds a special meaning for Burgart’s family and surrounding community.
“There will always be something there to remind people of her, which is really nice. She was so dedicated to the mountain, it just seems right to have that,” Mitch said.
“I think it made a lot of people happy that they went ahead and are doing it.”
The runs and the mountain are set to open Dec. 5 with a 45-centimetre snow base at the bottom of the mountain and even more snow in the forecast. Things are running ahead of schedule for the opening which will send skiers and snowboarders down the Golden Eagle and Sweet Louise for their inaugural opening day.
“She’ll be missed up here at the mountain,” Mitch said.
“We’re glad that everyone will be able to remember her in a nice way,” Kelsey said.