By no means would I call myself a seasoned skier, far from it actually. My first time confidently going down a proper trail was just a few years ago in Park City. My brother actually taught me the basics back when I was 14 years old, then, after a few go’s on the bunny hill he took me on a full sized green run in a total blizzard and I lost taste for all things winter sports after that. This was until about 2016 when I discovered ski outfits. That first time on the ski hill when I was 14, I wore JEANS, no helmet and this was before I even had contacts so I was just in my regular glasses and I have no idea how anyone allowed this to happen. It was a foggy, wet mess. Fast forward a few years and I am taking the magic carpet up to my practice run looking like a bonafide bond girl straight from the silver screen, and I have to tell you CONFIDENCE IS EVERYTHING. Not only did it make me feel good but it also made me want to learn and ski more. Practice makes perfect after all. Of course as a fashion girl I would be 100% motivated by clothes but the reality of it is that looking the part can boost your confidence to do anything you want in life. It may not be everything but it’s at least half the battle.
This year we took a trip down to Park City right before Christmas and got to ski at one of our all time favourite spots, Deer Valley Resort. Deer Valley is a ski only resort which mainly means no shaved snow from snowboards. For those who are not confident skiers or who just like to take it easy down the hill this luxury alone is worth the high price tag. Knowing first hand how important those first experiences are, a bad day on the slopes can make or break your love for the sport. There are many other perks to skiing at Deer Valley. The Snow Park Lodge has one of the best buffets I’ve been to, a 5 star experience with anything you can possibly imagine to get your day off to a perfect start. The staff at Deer Valley could easily outnumber the guests, there is someone there to attend to your every need. You see instructors going down with groups or one on one skiers, there is a staff member at every map at all times directing you to where you want to go, there is a lodge at every lift and the amount of runs at the park is so vast that you can ski there all day and never repeat a single run. In short, this is definately the place you want to have your first ski adventure!
Since we have been at it for a few years now and are so lucky to have access to some of the best hills in North America I thought it sensible to leave you some of my recommendations. Ski magazines and websites often focus on places that are optimal for experienced skiers so resources for beginners are sparse. Before I get too confident myself here is a list of places that are great for those who like a good leisurely downhill ride:
Deer Valley – For all the reasons listed above this remains one of our all time favourites. If you get lucky and get fresh snow while you are there, it is like no place else. The trails are groomed to perfection, and even though you are at 10,000 ft. elevation the hills are not very steep, making it a really wonderful experience to get your bearings and gain confidence. Deer Valley also limits the number of people allowed on the slopes per day which makes for short lines and less crowded runs. You can see what a difference a fresh snowfall makes in this post from our first time at the resort. At USD $169 per person it is by far the most expensive of the resorts we’ve been to thus far. For those who are looking for a true luxury experience you can also stay at one of their many lodges where you can literally just ski out of your living room right onto the slopes. THE DREAM!
Sunshine Village – Sunshine must be one of the most popular resorts in Alberta, it’s very family friendly and is situated in a valley that allows for the perfect conditions, no wind and lots of sun. The lift tickets are $114 per person and you must take a gondola up to the valley from where you get to choose your runs. You can also stay overnight at the base which makes for the perfect experience. There is a lot of runs which is great when you are looking to get away from the crowds and the views are to die for. When you are finished your day you can ski out to the parking lot instead of taking the gondola which gives you an additional easy run to tackle after a day of practice! And let’s not forget the slush cup. If you ever wondered what it would be like to ski in your bikini, in May they end the season with a splash!
Nakiska Ski Resort – The closest to the city and cheapest of the resorts, at $90 per person HOWEVER if you are on the ball in the summer you can purchase season passes for $300 which makes it an absolute STEAL! Nakiska opens later then the other resorts because Kananaskis generally gets less snow then the rest of the rockies, on the flip side it is only a 1 hour drive from Calgary so you don’t have to plan as long of a day (especially if you snagged your seasons passes early). There are fewer runs but they are all perfectly groomed, the lodges and views of the valley are beautiful and the runs wide which is great for beginners. One of the biggest bonuses to ski Nakiska is the adjoining Nordic Spa at the Delta Hotel on the way out of the resort. A newly opened Scandinavian pool spa that is the perfect way to end a day out in the cold. Fun fact, Nakiska was built in preparation for the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.
Whistler Blackbomb – Probably one of the most manufactured of the resorts, it resembles something you’d see at Disneyland. There are no cars in the village which means you can literally walk off the hill to a bar and not worry about the drive home… if you’re into that sort of thing of course. It’s also one of the more luxury resorts in Canada. You can find all the lux gear you want at places like CanSki in the village. There are two mountains which make for double the fun, and you can travel across by way of the peak to peak gondola which is a ride all on it’s own. At $178 per person it’s easily one of the more expensive places to ski in Canada. The downside is the weather, being on the west coast the snow is often quite wet so if you get there during a rainy period you can feel like a wet dog going down those trails. BUT on a good day and after a fresh snowfall it’s incredible and the place where we really fell in love with skiing.
Lake Louise – To be totally honest I did not like my initial experience at Lake Louise. External reasons aside the front of the mountain was weirdly groomed with bumps along the easy trails which made me lose control of my skis and land backwards on my head leaving me shaken for the rest of the day. I have to say that once you fall (this was my first fall ever) you really lose all confidence. That was a fall I would not want to repeat, thankfully I was wearing a helmet because my head literally bounced off the ground a couple of times before it landed. The snow at Lake Louise was perfect, the resort is deep in the mountains with high elevation and a lot of snow. Powder is to be expected. Everything changed once we took the gondola to the back bowls and the larch side of the mountain, which in retrospect was what we should have done to begin with, the trails reminded me more of Sunshine, they were steady and well groomed, albeit at anytime you could literally veer off into the double black diamond territory without even knowing, which at that point in our day terrified the shit out of me. There is a green run that goes from the very top of the mountain (saddleback) which we did not do due to weather but would love to try sometime this winter. I have to warn though, Lake Louise is not a place you want to go on your first ski trip. The easiest way down at times left me confused as to who was allowed to mark these trails to begin with. I’m just glad my brother didn’t try to teach me how to ski here. Knowing the terrain now, I look forward to coming back and crushing those runs! There is a lot of terrain to cover which makes for a great multi day visit.