After 90 years, it appears the Skyliners ski club — now much better known as the Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation — will finally have its own permanent training facility.
MBSEF has been seeking to raise $4 million through a capital campaign called “A Place to Soar” to build a new facility in the Northwest Crossing area of Bend.
The nonprofit has raised about half of its goal in a little more than a year and construction on the new 9,600-square-foot facility could begin as early as October 2019, according to John Schiemer, executive director of MBSEF. The hope is to move into the new location by June 2020.
Since it was formed from the Skyliners club in 1986, MBSEF — which offers youth programs in skiing, snowboarding and cycling — has been located at various places around Bend. For the past 13 years its headquarters have been in a 4,700-square-foot building on Southwest 13th Street in Bend.
The new building would more than double that capacity and provide space for offseason training, including a weight room, a fitness room, and a trampoline on which free-ride ski and snowboard athletes can train for their acrobatic aerial maneuvers. The current building is mostly offices, a ski wax room and storage.
“Right now, we have to go to various gyms throughout town in order to do dryland training,” Schiemer says. “That was one of the ideas — we’ll have our own training space. Nordic kids pretty much train year-round. And the free-ride and alpine kids, they train in the fall. With the ability to have our own space, with a trampoline, we’ll be able to do a little bit of that in the spring as well and throughout the summer.”
The planned MBSEF facility will be located at 2765 NW Lolo Drive on a 49,000-square-foot lot adjacent to a Snap Fitness gym. Schiemer says it is fitting that the new facility will back up to Skyliners Road, named for the original ski club in Bend.
The Skyliners ski club was founded in 1927, and in the mid-1930s the members built a small ski area 10 miles west of Bend at what is now Skyliners Sno-park, according to mbsef.org. The area included a ski jump, two rope tows and a small lodge. The website says ski jumping tournaments and cross-country ski races attracted the best skiers from throughout the Pacific Northwest to Bend.
After the opening of Bachelor Butte ski area (now Mt. Bachelor ski area) in 1958, the club moved its activities to Bachelor, according to Schiemer. In 1986, Skyliners was integrated into what is now MBSEF.
“Since Bachelor opened 60 years ago and we started racing up there, MBSEF has touched a lot of families and a lot of lives and done a lot of great things,” Schiemer says. “MBSEF can be a stable thing in a child’s environment and help them burn off some steam at a time when it’s critical in their lives.”
Across its various programs, MBSEF serves about 600 kids ranging in age from about 7 to 19. While the new training facility will be a convenient meeting and training spot for current MBSEF athletes, Schiemer says he does not expect an increase in enrollment in the foundation’s programs, some of which are already at capacity because of the limited slopes and facilities available at Bachelor.
“We’re not really able to grow our programs all that much because we’re constrained by hill space on the mountain,” Schiemer says. “But the things we’ll be able to provide our kids (off the mountain) will be a lot better and a lot more thorough.”
Schiemer calls the new location more of a “destination facility,” with nearby access to Phil’s Trailhead for cycling and running.
MBSEF received $200,000 from Mt. Bachelor and $400,000 from Redmond-based homebuilder Hayden Homes as some of its biggest donations throughout the campaign. Already having raised $2 million, the next milestone is $3 million, Schiemer says.
“Once we achieve that we’ll get the go-ahead to build because the success rate in a campaign, once you’ve reached that level, is usually pretty high,” Schiemer says. “The build-out isn’t super long, because it’s a pretty basic facility, but we don’t want to move during the season. So we’re looking at June of 2020.”
Schiemer says that MBSEF has been working with architects and general contractors to design the building. Meanwhile, he hopes to continue receiving donations from those who have a passion for snow activities and youth sports.
“We are looking at some foundations and individuals,” Schiemer says. “It’s going to take a lot of people to get it done.”