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(2010 - Winter Issue)



British Columbia and Alberta both welcomed September snow, with Fernie claiming “first turns in North America” when marketing manager, Matt Mosteller flirted in a foot of powder on September 19.

Encouraged by the early bonanza, Lake Louise planned its November 5 opening but was pipped at the post by the Nordic Centre in Canmore, Alberta, which opened for the season on October 16 with a one-kilometre loop from stockpiled snow.

New improvements at resorts across Canada are as abundant as the early snow this season, enticing people to ski and snowboard all winter. And, just in case fickle La Niña doesn’t deliver to everyone, improved snow-making is at the forefront of the innovations.


With its more than eight metres of annual snowfall, you might think Fernie wouldn’t need snow-making. However, Fernie Alpine Resort’s fleet has been enlarged this season to help banish bare patches on busier slopes. Fernie’s five fabulous bowls have been enhanced this season with brush cutting, glade clearing and new traverses (skifernie.com).

This season Whistler skiers will benefit from Olympic improvements, including doubled snow-making capacity, the Dave Murray Downhill, an Olympic-sized Superpipe, and the widening of the Sea to Sky Highway access road (whistlerblackcomb.com).

Kicking Horse is flouting the economic downturn, opening up more terrain to celebrate its 10th anniversary. The new Super Bowl area used to be one of those “if only” out-of-bounds areas skiers would fantasize about skiing. This season the hike from T2 or Terminator opens up more than 15 new controlled, off-piste chutes (kickinghorseresort.com).

In this first year of Panorama’s new ownership, all profits are being poured into improvements for the ski-in/out resort. The family-favourite hill has tripled its night skiing capacity, opened up a new ski school, developed a freestyle and mogul section in the Rockstar Terrain Park and launched new glades from the summit. The new direct shuttle service to and from Calgary will speed up access to Panorama this season (panoramaresort.com).

The newest Canadian resort, Revelstoke continues to expand gradually with comfort elements this season such as 56 luxurious suites at the ski-in/out Nelsen Lodge and a wine bar with scenic views over the Columbia River Valley. For intermediates and experts, Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing is launching customized heli packages this year. It may be a longer drive from Calgary Airport but it is worth every effort (revelstokemountainresort.com).

Big White, near Kelowna, is introducing rotating zones for families and seniors to facilitate safe but varied terrain for slower skiers and snowboarders. Grandparent discount deals are encouraging multi-generational family reunions. But perhaps only the youngsters will be ascending the new, 19-metre ice-climbing tower. The first International Children’s Games to be held outside of Europe is coming to Big White in January with skiing, skating, curling, hockey and speed skating events (bigwhite.com).


Skier and Boarder Cross are debuting at Lake Louise this winter. A specialized circuit will attract additional World Cup events as well as adding further enjoyment for tourists and competitive ski clubs. Alberta Freeskiers’ founder, Kevin Bernier, is thrilled by the innovation, which prompted him to merge with a Boarder Cross team. “We’ve become Evolve Ski and Snowboard Cross Club, which is the first of its kind in Canada,” says Bernier who plans to bring national and even Nor Am competition to Lake Louise this season (skilouise.com).

Film stars shine the spotlight on Sunshine each January during the annual Celebrity Sports Invitational events for Robert F. Kennedy’s Waterkeeper Alliance. Reinforcing this eco-skiing message, Sunshine has recycled the redundant Timing Flats lift from the Vancouver Olympics. It replaces the rickety Strawberry triple chair, whisking beginners to glorious greens and blues in comfortable foursomes. The ’70s façade of the Creekside base lodge has been renovated with reclaimed glass, timber and rock, making it worthwhile to schuss down the ski-out at lunchtime to take advantage of the new indoor picnic area overlooking Mt. Bourgeau (skibanff.com).

At 85 years of age, Banff’s Mt. Norquay may be old but its anniversary events are aimed at all generations. Banff’s closest resort is offering cheap passes for seniors and kids, improved runs, expanded Tube Park, new Kidz Zone with sliding lanes and merry-go-round, plus snowshoeing (banffnorquay.com).

Mega snowfalls in September and October meant another November 13 opening for Marmot Basin in Jasper National Park. The early snow is here to stay, according to marketing manager, Brian Rode. “It is much cooler here in the mountains and we were able to start snow-making early,” he said. Paramount this season is enhanced snow-making, especially on lower slopes, and expanded terrain park facilities. Last year’s novelty, the Canadian Rockies Express Quad was awarded “Best, longest (and most hard-won) new lift” 2010 by Ski Canada magazine due to the environmental hoops that had to be jumped to get it. The lift nearly negates wait times and whisks 4,800 people per hour to the upper mountain (skimarmot.com).

More snow-making and a brand new rail park will attract skiers from Banff and Canmore to Nakiska this season via the new daily shuttle service. The Olympic resort is a training ground for amateur and professional athletes and also hosted stars from the Leonardo DiCaprio movie Inception filmed in the area last year (skinakiska.com).

The Canmore Nordic Centre is pioneering Snow Hosts for cross-country skiing. Usually the preserve of downhill ski hills, the volunteers will help welcome and orient visitors. The competitive season starts with the Alberta Cup Cross Country Ski Races December 4 and North American & Calforex Cup Biathlon December 11/12 (canmorenordic.com).


Ontario is proliferated with smaller, recreational ski hills, which provide 100 per cent snow-making capacity for mainly domestic skiers. The biggest resort is the Intrawest-owned Blue Mountain whose 215 vertical metres and ski-in/out village target a wider North American clientele. Alongside the ski trails is a brand new mountain roller coaster, which promises to give downhill thrills through the glades for both skiers and non-skiers this season (bluemountain.ca).

Family-run Mount St. Louis Moonstone has augmented its beginner terrain, added a new quad with conveyor carpet and expanded its snow-making with automated, energy-efficient snow guns and 1,525 metres of additional pipeline (mountstlouis.com).

Another Ontario innovation this season is a totally weatherproof magic carpet installed at Sir Sam’s, a mom-and-pop resort in the Haliburton Highlands. Riding it with skis in winter or bikes in summer will be like entering an aquarium-viewing tunnel (sirsams.com).


SKI Magazine’s Best Ski Resort honours went to Mont-Tremblant for the 14thconsecutive year. Open from late November, the Québec hill has more than 1,000 snow guns this year with new snow lines and a new groomer improving coverage. Flaik GPS devices are making skiing more statistical, recording runs skied, lifts taken, speeds and distances. New ski shops and healthier dining are improving services and there are many early-booking deals this winter (tremblant.ca).

Bromont has a spanking new ski lodge on Versant du Lac this season with accommodation for 550 skiers. Two new chairlifts are slated for 2011 (skibromont.com).

Mont Sutton is honouring 1960s’ prices to celebrate its 50th anniversary December 17. For just $5 skiers can discover their own glade runs over the 54 trails and 196 junctions, which permeate the ski-in/out resort. There’s a new beginners’ learning park with a Banff theme as well as a new all-terrain club for racing, moguls, glade-skiing and snow park practice. Additional snow guns and grooming facilities, chairlift improvements and customized season pass options add further comforts this season (mont

Concentrating on kids and beginners this year, Stoneham has installed a second magic carpet and doubled its beginners’ snow park. They are also planning an exciting Boarder Cross course in the terrain park (ski-stoneham.com).

All in all, it promises to be an outstanding season.

Five reasons why I’ll be skiing this season:

1.  To take advantage of Canada's ultimate winter recreational facilities;

2.  Combine sport with family fun;

3.  Combat the winter blues;

4.  Complement my exercise regime; and

5.  Challenge my comfort zone.

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