Years ago, Brent Nourse learned to ski at the Loup Loup Ski Bowl. This fall, he took over as the nonprofit Loup Loup Ski Education Foundation’s executive director.
“This is a real special place,” Nourse said. “I learned to ski here … my kids learned to ski here. Everybody I know who skis all learned how to ski here.”
Nourse and the board have two main goals — which he said sound like opposites, but aren’t.
First, they want to maintain the character of the Loup — the local, non-commercial feel that has attracted so many Okanogan County residents over the years and kept them coming back.
“It’s very much an ‘our mountain’ kind of a feel, and we want to make sure that we’re maintaining that,” Nourse said. “We are technically the Loup Loup Ski Education Foundation. We’re here to provide a family friendly and affordable alpine experience for our neighbors in Okanogan County. And that doesn’t need to change. It shouldn’t change.”
Second, they want to bolster winter offerings, like their ski school, but also expand beyond cold-weather activities. Nourse and the board plan to work for the next several months on a plan to turn the Loup into a four-season destination that could draw locals and tourists alike year-round.
“What we’re about to embark on right now is a bit of soul searching, a bit of planning, and I’m starting to work with the board on really putting some high resolution to some very grand plans and we don’t know exactly what that is yet,” he said.
Climate change is one reason to consider an expansion into spring, summer and fall. Winters could get shorter, and with them, the Loup’s seasons. While there are a handful of non-winter activities that happen at the Loup — such as a horse race, archery and bike trails — non-snow activities haven’t been a focus for the foundation in the past. Nourse and the board hope to have a plan to move forward by spring or early summer.
“That sounds like a lot of fun to me,” he said. “I really have always enjoyed building new programs and watching them thrive.”
Nourse said the institutional knowledge of long-time staff members has helped him adjust to the new job, and are helping in planning for the future.
“I do think what’s really important is [that] people understand how valuable the staff is and how valuable the board is,” he said. “I’m not going to come in here and tell people we’re going to change everything because obviously what they’ve done works well. What I’m hoping we can do as a team is come up with bigger, better ideas [for the future] that also keep the character [of the mountain] and do that together so the staff is included and feels invested in it.”
Nourse was previously the recycling program manager at Methow Recycles.
Former director of the Loup, Dave Betts, died suddenly in May 2021. He had been the executive director of the organization since 2018.
Visitors to the Loup will notice a few immediate changes this year. The Loup’s new day lodge, which is about 50% larger than the old building, is finished and ready for skiers. It features an expanded eating and indoor sitting area including a fireplace and food court with options from local companies like Blue Star coffee and a variety of food from Saskatoon Kitchens, of Twisp.
The ski rental shop has also been expanded and the Loup has purchased another Sno-Cat.