LAKE LOUISE, Alberta — Snow is blowing, the papers are signed and the world-renowned Lake Louise Ski Area is officially under new ownership just days before the chairlifts start running for what promises to be one of the most exciting seasons in its history.

“For me this is not so much a business decision as a return to a fundamental passion,” said new managing partner and former owner Charlie Locke, who is unretiring from retirement to lead the Rocky Mountain resort.  “My family and I are very excited about getting back to the mountains and reinvesting our energies to ensure Lake Louise continues to be Canada’s favourite ski resort.”

Mr. Locke has partnered with the former owner –Resorts of the Canadian Rockies chairman Murray Edwards — to form a new company to operate Lake Louise, which later this month will host the opening speed events of the 2008/09 World Cup season. The Lake Louise Ski Area will be operated independently of, but associated with, Resorts of the Canadian Rockies.

Mr. Locke said with additional resources now focused on Lake Louise, his new team will work to build on the tremendous visitor experience improvements implemented at the resort over the past several years.

Initiatives will include a focus on customer service, full dedication to superior snow making and high-quality grooming and enhanced après ski options.

“We understand that it’s about the whole experience and we’re committed to making sure skiers and snowboarders, kids, families, and young adults have the best time possible on the snow and after,” said Mr. Locke “In addition to reintroducing a quality terrain park with all varieties of features, we’re also looking at more dining options, events and entertainment.”

The ownership change will have no impact on 2008/09 season passes or other ski products. All multi-resort passes will have the same skiing and boarding privileges as before.

Mr. Locke originally invested in the resort in 1974, helping finance many of its initial lifts. He became full owner in 1981, and spent the next 20 years shaping it into the world-class destination it is today.

Mr. Edwards purchased a 50% interest in the resort company from Locke in 2001 and the balance in 2003. 

Mr. Locke, one of the first professional mountain guides in Canada, pioneered many of the classic climbing and ski touring routes in the Canadian Rockies and made numerous first ascents in the Lake Louise area before launching parallel careers in the investment business and ranching. Today, through his holding company, The Locke Stock & Barrel Company, he has investments in ranching, real estate, resources, and recreation.

Lake Louise is the largest ski area in the Canadian Rockies and offers terrain to meet the desires of any snow enthusiast. The resort is nestled in a breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage Site.