Family With Long Ski Background
Buy Mount Baldy:Host Polaris Ride Day
by Scott A. Sumner
A long time Thunder Bay ski family hasrecently purchased Mount Baldy and begun a journey to make it better for local families to enjoy.
Kristof Kardas, age 41 is the co-owner of Mount Baldy Ski Hill. “My brothers, Daniel and Jason, and myself bought Mount Baldy, kinda to fulfill our parents dream of owning a ski hill. Daniel is co owner with me as well of the Ski & Snowboard Exchange and Jason is out over seeing us from Calgary!” laughs Kristof.
Kristof, his father and brothers were all competitive ski jumpers and grew up at Big Thunder and Sundance here in Thunder Bay. His two brothers have been on the National Ski Jumping Team for Canada. His dad, Slav, has been a National team coach and an Olympian. Kristof has coached womens ski jumping teams.
“ We do everything together as a family and have always done that. The Ski & Board Exchange business started back in the day when we were ski jumping as a way to raise money. It would help skiers we picked up along the way to help with their travel and buying equipment. Dad always loved going back to Europe and bringing everyone to get the experience there no matter what level they were at,” said Kristof. “ We have grown the retail ski business, adding in companies we deal with like Atomic and Salomon, building our brand, adding more new products while still carrying the used product as well as the rental line we offer to first time riders. Also we soon needed to add the next level products we learned about out west in Banff and Canmore where we lived for 10 years after Big Thunder closed.”
The Ski & Snowboard Exchange is a ski and snow board retailer. “We have great customers and want to give each customer 100 % attention. We will go out with you and show you how to cross country ski or downhill ski here. If the person doesn’t have a good ski experience we could lose them and they might not come back,”said Kristof. At Mount Baldy our job doesn't stop after the lesson is over, maybe you take a run with little Johnny and see how he is doing which might encourage another lesson and upgrade so they will stick with the sport and get a better feeling.”
“ Mount Baldy was a good fit for my brother Danny and myself as we both live here in Shuniah. This is a really family oriented business and we are a family based company. My whole life we have always worked together as a family. We may butt heads but at the end of the day we
all go home as a family and push each other to do better. We don’t want the easy route,” said Kristof. “We want to start fresh with Mount Baldy and see if some of our ideas will work. We took over Mount Baldy, November 1st and did some cosmetic upgrades to kinda say thank you to
the customers that Craig Spiess had and welcome to the customers we are going to bring from Ski SnowBoard Exchange. I could be in the office looking at the computer but I would rather be out in the field seeing and listening to the customers to help find out what we can do next to improve, what the customer wants out of Mount Baldy for next season.”
“ In the ski industry we are a fickle bunch. For instance Lutsen is a bit of a draw right now as they offer the condo, the hot tub, a great eatery but there is no reason why we can’t have that here and have them come and see us. Their dollar is better but they don’t come to see us so how can we improve our ski hills to attract them and promote tourism.”
“ Our ski shop is like a therapy shop, we get to hear about all the hills and what they feel is going right and wrong. Now with the ski hill we get both sides of the equation,” smiles Kristoff.
“ Today at Mount Baldy, the North Country Cycle & Sports ride is a good example of doing something different to attract people here. In Shuniah we don’t have the OFSC trails anymore which I think is a shame. The city is on the upside right now and there is sled traffic here from
Slate River, Pass Lake and it is a great fit.”
“ Mount Baldy is a love investment for us. We had the opportunity and ability to do it. You don’t get this type of opportunity too often. If we missed this one we would have said what if and at least
now we can say we did it and how can we build on it. It will be a fun ride.”