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Former U.S. skier Paul Mahre pulls bid to buy Cape Breton hill


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INGONISH, N.S. - The slopes at Ski Cape Smokey will stay empty again this winter.
Paul Mahre, a former member of the U.S. ski team, said he has withdrawn his bid to buy the hill in Ingonish.
"It's a little disheartening that I wasn't able to move forward with it at this time, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed," Mahre said in a telephone interview from Washington state.
"I really enjoyed the chance to work with . . . the Ski Cape Smokey Society and see the area."
The former World Cup ski racer wouldn't say what "personal obligations" made him change his mind about the deal. But he did say he would consider resubmitting a proposal next year.
The society managing the hill started looking for a buyer last winter after the province refused its request for more funding. The Ski Cape Smokey Society has leased the property from the province for more than 10 years but has had to rely on public money to keep the 122-hectare resort open.
The American's proposal included $5 million to $7 million of renovations and expansions that would make the hill a year-round resort. He planned to add two new chairlifts and put an extra storey atop the ski lodge.
Mahre said he had trouble finding U.S. investors willing to back a relatively unknown Canadian resort.
"It's easy to see now, with the recent economic standings, but even through June, July and August, I was having difficulty finding interested backers," he said.
Financing could be even tougher to find in a year's time, he said, because of the global credit crunch.
The chairman of the society found out in September that the deal would not be going ahead this year. Now the society is getting ready to board up the property for the winter, Lee Buchanan said.
"The community is very disappointed," he said. "They really wanted to see that hill up and running this winter.
"It would employ up to 30 people, so that's a big loss for a small community."

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