A frequent skier at the Searchmont Ski Resort, north of Sault Ste. Marie, has become its new owner. Chicago stockbroker Jack McDermott expects to take control of the bankrupt resort May 1. The sale will reportedly close with a price between $1 million and $2 million (US). As Searchmont's principal owner and president of the Chicago-based LaSalle St. Securities, McDermott intends to retain most of the resort's management and staff. Plans are to upgrade snowmaking equipment and concentrate on maintaining the resort's core business for the first year. Long-term plans might include some ecotourism and off-season activities. The sale completes the mandate of the Searchmont Ski Association, a non-profit group of Sault area business leaders and the city who stepped in run the ski hill last winter after bankruptcy trustees BDO Dunwoody were prepared to shut down operations until a buyer was found. The resort expects to rake in a tidy profit after 53,000 skiers visited the hill in 2001-02. As the Sault's major winter tourist attraction, Searchmont employs 220 mostly seasonal jobs and injects about $10 million into the local economy.