Flye Like an Eagle

Growing up at Mount Baldy with Thunder Bay’s freeski phenom
Mason Flye doing what he does best.

Any athlete will tell you that the path to success is laid with hard work, dedication, and the steadfast support of friends and family. Location plays an important role, too. Prowess takes practice—lots and lots of practice—and access to the environments and conditions that make that possible. If you’re Mason Flye, that means growing up with skis on your feet and Mount Baldy in your backyard.

For this 16-year-old freestyle ski phenomenon, Thunder Bay’s long winters, generous lake-effect snowfall, and passionate ski community have helped him take his talent from grassroots beginnings to the national stage.

The best place to learn.
The best place to learn. Courtesy of Mason Flye

Touring with the Thunder Bay Freestyle Club in 2022, Flye dominated Freestyle Ontario’s Timber Tour—recognized as Ontario's premier provincial freestyle ski competition series—earning him a position on the provincial freestyle team and a berth at the junior nationals. In 2023, he competed in the NorAm (North America) and Canada Cup, travelling to Sun Peaks, British Columbia and Stoneham, Quebec for Slopestyle and Big Air events.

This season, Flye is poised to once again make his mark on the Freestyle Canada Cup circuit, with events in Whitehorse (Yukon), Sun Peaks, and Horseshoe (Ontario).

To watch Mason Flye high above the snow, spinning and flipping through the crisp winter air, is to witness a seamless union of artistry and athleticism. Harnessing the laws of gravity and momentum in such a harmonious way takes a certain natural talent and instinct. Yet Flye is quick to credit his experiences at Mount Baldy for shaping the skier he is today.

Flye started skiing at just three years old, wedging his skis and mirroring his father’s turns on Mount Baldy’s gentle beginner slopes. “My dad took me skiing every weekend until I joined the race program,” Flye recalls. At age 12, he traded in his race skis for freestyle planks and became a regular at the hill’s terrain parks.

“At Mount Baldy, we have great slopes and runs for beginners to advanced skiers with mini parks and an intermediate park,” Flye explains. “This makes it very easy to progress in your skiing.”

Mount Baldy Thunder Bay
Picture courtesy of Ronan Bailey-Gallo from the Mount Baldy Ski Area Facebook Page

Located a short drive east of Thunder Bay on the north shore of Lake Superior, Mount Baldy has been a family ski destination for over 60 years. The hill boasts 190 centimeters (74 inches) of annual snowfall, 145 metres of vertical, and mesmerizing views of flat-topped islands and peninsulas rising out of the sparkling blue of the world’s largest freshwater lake. The scenery and skiing are superb, but Mount Baldy is best known for its exceptionally friendly and welcoming atmosphere.

Mount Baldy partnered with the Thunder Bay Freestyle Club in 2020 to bring freestyle programs and coaching to its slopes. Despite the disruption caused by Pandemic lockdowns—when Flye and his freestyle teammates spent the winters improvising rails in front yards and hitting homemade jumps in city parks—the club continues to grow.

Mount Baldy Thunder Bay
Picture courtesy of the Mount Baldy Ski Area Facebook Page

“I see so many more new skiers wanting to learn freestyle or join the team,” Flye says. “We have many shops and clubs that support skiing in Thunder Bay, including Ski Haus, Ski and Board Exchange and Thunder Bay Freestyle.”

It’s that sense of belonging—both at home and across the broader freeski community—that inspires Flye to keep pushing himself.

“I have developed a great group of friends with the same passion across the country and I’ve been able to travel to so many amazing places,” he says. “Watching my favourite skiers and learning new tricks really keeps me motivated.”

Mount Baldy Thunder Bay
Picture courtesy of the Mount Baldy Ski Area Facebook Page

Competing in both Big Air and Slopestyle disciplines means Flye has to be equally proficient at stomping flips and spins with massive air time, as well as linking lightning fast and flawlessly executed tricks on the myriad of rails and smaller jumps that comprise a slopestyle course. His signature trick is a front 360 swap—a rail slide where the skier jumps, spins 360 degrees in the opposite direction, and lands back on the rail.

“It is a trick that I’m quite proud of and I’ve gotten really comfortable with,” Flye tells me. This season, he hopes to add more tricks spinning towards his unnatural direction, as well as doubles (think two consecutive somersault flips) to his repertoire.

From humble beginnings, Flye is demonstrating what is possible with talent, ambition, dedication and deep roots in a passionate ski community.

Mount Baldy Thunder Bay
Picture courtesy of the Mount Baldy Ski Area Facebook Page

“Growing up in Thunder Bay really helped me succeed with my skiing because of friends and family who helped me push myself,” he says. From Mount Baldy to Whistler and Whitehorse, Flye has his sights on even more exotic locales—Milano and Cortina, Italy.

“I think 2026 Winter Olympics is definitely possible—as long as I work hard, do my best and always have fun.”

Mason Flye’s Guide to the Ultimate Ski Getaway in Thunder Bay

Plan your own Thunder Bay ski vacation with tips from local freeski phenom, Mason Flye.

A beautiful day a Mount Baldy Ski Hill in Thunder Bay
Where the fun begins. Source: Kevin High // @kvnhigh

When to Visit

The ski season in Northern Ontario is considerably longer than destinations to the south. At Mount Baldy, the season typically starts in early December and runs through the end of March or even early April. For prime snow conditions, Flye says, “The best months are anytime from late December to early February.”

Mount Baldy Thunder Bay
Picture courtesy of Mount Baldy Ski Area Facebook Page

Where to Ski

Mason Flye’s home hill, Mount Baldy, received major upgrades for the 2022 season, including a brand new quad chairlift and snowmaking system. While the hill maintains an endearing throwback vibe with a base-to-summit T-bar for old-schoolers and cozy chalet with live music Friday and Saturday nights, you’ll also find everything you need for a hassle-free ski getaway.

A full terrain park, all-ages beginner area, rental shop, beginner and intermediate lessons, tubing hill, and Friday/Saturday night skiing make this a great family destination. Mount Baldy offers 10 runs ranging from easy to advanced. According to Flye, “My personal favourite run at Mount Baldy is definitely the Lookout.” Expect sublime Lake Superior vistas on this easy cruiser as it winds around the mountain.

Mount Baldy Thunder Bay
Picture courtesy of the Mount Baldy Ski Area Facebook Page

Thunder Bay boasts not one, but two great ski areas. Loch Lomond is located just southwest of the city, with 179 metres vertical and three chairlifts servicing 18 runs, including glade and expert terrain. There’s also a terrain park, ski school, rental shop and fun events like April’s spring skiing Slush Cup.

Where to Stay

You won’t find resort-style slopeside accommodation at Thunder Bay ski areas. Instead, plan to base yourself downtown or in the attractive Waterfront District—just a 15- to 20-minute drive from Mount Baldy and Loch Lomond—and enjoy everything this vibrant city has to offer. Flye recommends the Delta Hotels Thunder Bay, a modern waterfront hotel perched right on the lakeshore at Prince Arthur’s Landing. “It has an amazing view of Lake Superior.”

Nearby, the Prince Arthur Waterfront Hotel & Suites is another excellent spot for a winter visit. Built in 1911, this historic hotel offers old-fashioned ambience and a great location in the heart of the Waterfront District. Upgrade to a lakeview suite for stunning vistas and a jacuzzi tub.

Don’t forget to pack your ice skates—both hotels are just steps away from the delightful outdoor skating rink at Prince Arthur’s Landing.

Ice Skating Prince Arthurs Landing in Thunder Bay
Relaxation awaits at Prince Arthur's Landing. Source: Visit Thunder Bay

Where to Eat

Thunder Bay’s colourful and multicultural Waterfront District is the birthplace of the city’s remarkable foodie scene, so you really can’t go wrong when it comes to delicious dining options. Flye suggests starting with a bite at Bight Restaurant & Bar, which features a prime waterfront setting and made-from-scratch menu shaped by their farm-to-table philosophy.

Mount Baldy Thunder Bay
Picture courtesy of the Mount Baldy Ski Area Facebook Page

For a classic British pub with a smokehouse twist (and surprising number of vegan and vegetarian options), don’t miss the Red Lion Smokehouse. Craving cheesy carbs after a day of shredding the slopes? Locals swear Stan’s Pizza serves up the best pies in town. 

Top off your Thunder Bay ski vacation with two of the city’s classic cultural experiences. With over 10 percent of residents claiming Finnish ancestry, Finnish cultural traditions dating back to the 1870s can be found across the city, from steamy saunas to plate-sized pancakes. Treat yourself to both at Kangas Sauna & Little House of Pancakes—your aching quads (and empty stomach) will thank you.

About Virginia Marshall

Virginia Marshall is a freelance outdoor adventure writer, photographer and editor with roots in Muskoka and Lake Superior. Read her work in Adventure Kayak, Canoeroots, Rapid, Paddling Magazine and Backroad Mapbooks.

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