If you want your kids to fall in love with skiing, a great first experience is critical! Here are our tried and tested tips for fun ski days the first time and every time:
- Pack the night before so you have time for a decent breakfast. Full tummies= happy kids! We use a 3-bag system as follows:
- Ski bag: Skis (and ski poles for those who already know how to ski)
- Duffle bag: ski boots, 1 midlayer (fleece or down sweater) per person, extra socks and mitts/gloves, snacks and/or lunch. Leave this one in the lodge!
- Small backpack to carry when skiing: cell phone, wallet, keys (clip them in so you don’t lose them), hand and foot warmer packets, lip gloss, sunscreen, high calorie snacks that won’t freeze (chocolate is good), small water bottles (refill them throughout the day).
- Take a load off: Bring a large sled and a couple bungee cords to tow all your gear. Your shoulders will thank you.
- Set a meeting time and place: If everyone’s lessons are at different times or family members will be skiing in different parts of the resort, set a meeting time and place and talk about what to do if you become separated on the hill (e.g. wait at the next junction, or ski to the bottom and wait at the chair lift).
- Dress for Success: Layers are the key to staying comfy and warm. Wear synthetic/merino base layers, wool blend ski socks, snowpants, ski jacket, mittens/gloves, helmet, and goggles. You can always swap the jacket for a midlayer (you packed it, didn’t you?) if you get too warm; or double up if it’s super frosty. Avoid cotton clothes.
- Snack breaks for the win: We carry a mix of healthy snacks and treats to keep energy levels and spirits high. Call it what you will – bribe or incentive – but gummy bears and chocolates got our girls to do turns (1 gummy bear per 3 turns so they wouldn’t shoot straight down the hill). Be sure to wash that snack down with a drink!
- Wear snow boots: Change into your ski boots at the lodge. It’s faster and comfier, and you’ll be all set to play in the snow or go tubing when you’re done skiing!
- Rent or buy gear that is height/skill-level appropriate: A ski shop can outfit you accordingly. Do some research before buying used gear to ensure you get the right size of skis/boards and boots.
- Say no to poles: Beginners don’t need ski poles. In fact, the first thing your instructor will say if you have poles, is to leave them on the ground so you can focus on your balance.
- Always wear a helmet: This goes for you too, parents! And buckle that brain bucket so it stays on!
- Book a lesson: Some kids prefer private lessons, but most enjoy skiing with other kids their age. It is amazing how much kids progress in group lessons because they want to keep up with the best kid in the class! Learning from a professional also ensures they don’t pick up bad habits from you.
- Avoid naptime! Ski at your kids happy time of day. If your kids don’t nap, however, the runs are usually less busy in the afternoon.
- Keep it fun: Instead of drills, play games! Children learn best through play. If your child wants to play in the snow, go play in the snow (but find a safe place near the lodge to do so). When my kids were 2, we spent more time playing than skiing, but it paid off. They love snow and love being at the ski hill because they associate both with FUN!
- Be patient: Every child learns at a different pace.
- Celebrate wins – big and small! Reward efforts with something your child enjoys. Have pizza to celebrating mastering “the pizza” aka snowplow, or plan a movie night or games night.
- Quit while you’re ahead: Stop while your kids are still loving it to make them want to go skiing again soon!
Spring is my favourite time to go skiing for warm weather, sunny days spent on the hill with no frozen fingers or toes, and for the abundant patio opportunities. It can also be a challenging time though with unpredictable snow (often changing by the hour) and temperatures that make us overheat just trying to carry gear from the parking lot to the day lodge.
Check out my ten simple tips below and discover how to fully make the most of your days on the hill this spring season.
- Be prepared for multiple wardrobe changes. We’ve already had a couple of warm ski days this season where I was sweating just trying to pack our skis over to the day lodge. We’d always cool off on the chair lift ride up the hill but then I’d be sweating again on the ski down. The biggest tip here is layering so that you have options for dealing with changing temperatures. Add a sweater, remove a shirt, ski with just a warm base layer and your ski pants, or take the lining out of your 3-in-1 ski jacket. I also recommend having some extra clothing options stored in a duffel bag in the day lodge (or in your vehicle) so that you can do a quick wardrobe change mid-day if you need.
- Fight thirst without breaking the bank. Unless you’re prepared to pay at least $3 for a beverage or even a bottle of water when the sun starts beating down on you, make sure you pack some water bottles in your day pack to leave in the lodge. You can always fill your own water bottle in the lodge (for free) so skip buying drinks and bring Gatorade crystals, flavor drops, or even lemonade powder.
- A spring sunburn is not a fashion statement. While a lot of people like to pull out their “funky fun clothing” for spring skiing, don’t think you’re going to look cool trying to accessorize with a sun burn after spending hours on the hill, snow reflecting the sun on to your skin. Sun’s out, Sunblock’s out!
- Get first tracks for the best spring snow. Get on the hill at 9am and you’ll have at least three hours before the snow starts getting slushy. By noon, if you have a seasons pass, you can always call it quits for the day if the snow deteriorates too badly and head over to Kananaskis Village for a walk, a skate on the pond, or even just a visit to the playground.
- Ski high for the best snow. The lower mountain will always get slushy before the runs off the gold chair will. Ski the lower slopes in the morning but move your way up the hill when the snow starts getting soft.
- Be prepared for all kinds of conditions (in the same day!) You might start skiing on iced corduroy for the first hour, move on to soft snow that resembles mashed potatoes for the next hour or so, and then slowly move into slushier conditions by noon. That’s the reality of spring skiing! My best suggestion is to send a strong skier out to try new areas on the mountain first before taking the kids up a new lift and discovering the runs to be icy or in a condition that your children can’t ski.
- Join in the fun of a spring fiesta. Nakiska will be holding Spring Fiesta weekends every Saturday and Sunday in April for the first three weeks until April 16th. Have fun with some spring skiing and DJ entertainment in a slope side lounge. A face painter and balloon artist will be on site for the kids.
- Stay local and enjoy a mini-ski vacation. Book your ski vacation through Resorts of the Canadian Rockies for great family deals on ski passes and accommodations at the Delta Kananaskis Lodge or Stoney Nakoda Lodge. For an affordable ski vacation, the HI Kananaskis Hostel has four private rooms and a fully stocked kitchen so you can make your own meals.
- Try something new this spring! Warmer days, sunshine, and bluebird skies call for new experiences and fun adventures. Try some family tubing at Nakiska, take a snowboard lesson, book a family coaching session and learn some new skills in a private ski or snowboarding class, register the kids in a spring break camp, or book a private lesson to get an introduction to doing tricks in the terrain park.
- Always have a backup plan for spring ski weekends. With unpredictable spring weather and snow conditions, it’s always good to have a few backup plans (especially if you’re staying at Kananaskis Village for a weekend and are only skiing half days.) Take a fat bike tour with Kananaskis Outfitters at the nearby Village, rent snowshoes or cross country skis from the Outfitters and check out the trails around the village, or take a hike to nearby Troll Falls and see if you can find some of the hidden trolls along the trail.
See you on the slopes this spring!
Valentine’s Day is coming up – treat the lady in your life to a Ladies’ Day at Nakiska! Ladies’ Ski & Snowboard Days are scheduled this season for February 9th, March 1st, 9th & 29th and April 6th (potential date). Ladies day programs all include lift pass, instruction, transportation, gourmet lunch and (of course) pampering.
Purchase your program (or one for your lady) and get more information from our purchase link.
I sat down with Kirsten, instructor extraordinaire from our Winter Sports School and asked her why she thinks everyone can ski and why everyone should start skiing;
1) Many think skiing is hard who have never tried it- but we know different- why?
Skiing is easy and fun if you learn the right way, it’s a lot easier then it looks to pick up and master, once you have the basics behind you, all you need is mileage and some good encouragement, once you start you cant stop.
2) Why would you say new Canadians should try skiing?
Simply because you have the biggest playground in your backyard, winters in Canada can be long and cold, but when your skiing, those long cold days are something you can look forward to, it’s a great winter activity that the whole family can take part in and enjoy.
3) What does skiing provide guests who try it?
Fun, accomplishment, laughs and a great experience you can take with you for the rest of your life, yes some guests may not enjoy skiing as much as others, but at least you can say you have tried it. It also opens your eyes to a whole new world and a whole new winter activity, you get to see things from a different perspective and the views from the top of the lift are always worth it 😀
4) What is the first timer experience like? Can you break it down- teaching steps, dealing with weather, how to dress etc.
The first tier experience can be a bit daunting to some non the less the end result is almost always a good one, when you have your first ski lesson you will be shown how to handle the equipment (skis, poles, boots etc ). You will learn how to get around on your skis, how to move and how to stop… stopping is an important one, once you start feeling comfortable with all of that, you will be introduced to turning, once you are turning comfortably and are in control, the terrain will be adjusted and you will be taught how to get down various terrain safely while enjoying it.
There are many factors that go into a first time ski lesson, you will want to dress appropriately for the weather, generally you would want some good snow pants and a good snow jacket, under layers are important to, and the amount of layers will change depending on the weather, socks are another important one, you would want to get a good pair of ski socks, and one pair is enough, your toes will be nice and toasty. There are a ton of other options for those extra cold days to when it comes to keeping those feet nice and warm. I would advise wearing a helmet and having a good pair of goggles, gloves and a face mask will come in handy to, all of this is very important especially if its your first time, because you may fall over a few times while learning, it doesn’t hurt to fall over on your skis, I promise 😀
The more prepared and comfortable you are, the easier it will be to focus on your lesson and get skiing faster.
5) What made it special about teaching these two (new Canadians)?
They had never been skiing before, it was a new adventure for both of them. They were really excited and enthusiastic from the get go, they listened well and progressed quickly, they had tons of fun learning and wanted to keep going. It’s always a pleasure to introduce someone into skiing and seeing the joy it brings them.
Check out the video of Kirsten teaching two new Canadians to ski earlier this season, produced in partnership with Go Ski Alberta and Snowseekers on our YouTube channel;
As you dream about ski adventures next winter, here are 10 reasons to put the Canadian Rockies at the top of your must-do list.
1)Hot Springs. From au natural rock pools of steaming hot mineral water in the forest to commercial springs like Fairmont, Cave and Basin, and Radium, there are many ways to soothe post-skiing muscle aches and pains in the Rockies.
2)National parks. Fernie Alpine Resort, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Kimberley Alpine Resort and Nakiska Ski Area sit on the door step of Canada’s stunning mountain national parks of Yoho, Jasper, Banff, Waterton and Kootenay. Combined these natural treasures make up the globally recognized Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the largest protected mountain areas in the world.
3)Mountain views. Quadruple check. Fernie, Kimberley, Kicking Horse and Nakiska offer up some of the largest and tastiest vertical of any resorts in Canada together with stunning views of the Elk River, Columbia, and Kananaskis valleys.
4) Diversity of riding options. From destination resort skiing to cozy backcountry lodges, from heli to cat skiing, there ‘s a mind boggling variety and choice of winter experiences available in the mountains of Western Canada.
5)Mountain cuisine and craft beers. Got a hunger? Why not dine on Elk burger at the Eagle’s Nest, the restaurant with a sky high view at the top of the Eagle Express Gondola at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. In Fernie head into town for an après ski Project 9 Pils, Big Caboose Red Ale or another of the craft brewed beers at Fernie Brewing Company. Or sink into the chair for a cocktail by the hearth at Lizard Creek Lodge’s Cirque Restaurant.
6) Snow quality and quantity. You can bank on it. Fernie’s Lizard Range runs perpendicular to the Rockie’s north-south access, generating generous weather patterns that are a skiers dream. At the same time Kicking Horse Resort is renowned for champagne light powder snow. All you need is an adventurous nature and a trail map, or the knowledge of a level 4 instructor to help you find inbound stashes of the stuff days after the last storm.
7)Going steep. Alpine bowls and couloirs abound but perhaps a Big Mountain Clinic at Kicking Horse is what you need to tune steep skills, build enough confidence to point the tips down a couloir and get to the goods.
8) Access. It doesn’t get much better. Calgary International Airport (YYC) is serviced by direct flights from major Canadian, American and European centres. The drive west from the rolling prairies of Calgary to the soaring Canadian Rockies is breathtaking.
9)Crowds? You can leave those behind. With more than 8000 total skiable acres between Kicking Horse, Fernie, Kimberley and Nakiska, your legs will quit before the terrain does.
10) Value. American friends, you won’t find a better bang for your winter buck when you head north of the 49th parallel to ski the Canadian Rockies.
Checking your Ski Equipment now is very important for many reasons, here are the 3 top reasons;
FAQ: I get asked all the time ‘Why should I check my Ski Equipment, as I’m not a great skier and spend lots of time on the beginner slopes with kids…”
My Answer: I always say try these- once you try new skis you are on cloud nine. Technology advancements, ski shape, size are some of the many reasons the new skis really do make a difference. You owe it to yourself as it will enhance your skiing skills, make skiing easier and give you more control on the slopes.
FAQ: I have a pair of skis in the garage- is it okay to use them?
My Answer: The key here is check the bindings- visit your local ski shop or most ski resorts have tune up shops in the rental areas as well. If you live in Calgary visit your local ski shop like the new Sporting Life store located in Southcentre mall to have a pro look at the bindings to make sure they still are in good shape and meet current binding standards.
FAQ: Do I really need to check the condition of the bases and edges of my skis?
My Answer: Now I don’t get my skis tuned all that regularly as I ski mostly in soft, powder snow. But if you are visiting ski resorts that have hard snow or icy conditions regularly then you should definitely get your skis tuned more often.
Unparalleled Savings! 1st, 4th & 7th ski day FREE & up to $40 (double discount period) savings every time you ski! Plus go Direct to Lift – just by linking your credit card.
- 3 FREE days The 3 Free Days can be redeemed at any RCR Western Resort.
- Cardholders receive their 1st, 4th and 7th ski days FREE and daily discounts every other day.
- Children 6-12 to get their very own RCR Kids’ Club Card FREE of charge. ($5 discount on full-day Child lift tickets at any RCR resort)
- Your Direct to Lift card can be linked to any major credit card at any of our resorts or at the Calgary office.
For more information visit the RCR Webstore. On sale until December 31, 2016.
If you’re thinking of booking a ski getaway this winter, now is the time to do it! With Early Booking Vacation Offers available for Christmas and Family Week vacations, as well as special long stay savings packages and spring skiing trips with savings of up to 48%!
Visit our Hot Deals page to book a getaway online or give our vacation specialists a call at 1-800-258-7669 to book over the phone.
STORY AND PHOTOS BY : Marc Lepage
Welcome to the Carving Capital of Canada! The once famous runs of the Olympic downhill events in 1988, has since evolved into a true skier’s paradise. With two near-perfect mountain ridges, Nakiska Ski Resort offers some of the most meticulously groomed, and indulgingly wide, trails I’ve seen. From the three Magic Carpets to skiing tree tops on Bull’s Head, there is most definitely something for everyone here.
Beginners of all ages will find the Bronze Chair area to be a perfect starting point. Completely isolated, those who wish to learn the basics can do so in this completely green zone. This section offers piece of mind, and insures a safe, speed-free environment to better focus on the basics.
The eternal intermediate can catch an unforgettable morning run on the crisp and freshly primed Homesteader. The wide blue cruisers of Nakiska are hard to top in the world of ski resorts. Whether you are looking to warm up or devote an entire day to casual fun, these trails offer the perfect environment to practice your speed control and edge pressure.
For the more practiced skiers, carvers and racers, the treats accessible from the Gold Chair are matched by few. The 452 meter vertical, will test your expertise, challenge your skills and keep you coming back for more. Be advised, this lift only serves a mountain side where there is ‘’No easy way down’’.
Whether you want to carve hard or flow though soft gripping bumps, this peak is for you. First time guests should start by repeatedly shredding the fresh corduroy on Whoop-Up, move on to attacking the naturally bumped Arrow, and end with a minimum of two trips to the easily accessed but not easily mastered, Monster Glades. The inevitable warm dark roast and slice of lemon raspberry loaf in the main chalet are by then more than justified.
At Nakiska, a 12 000 meter vertical day is not only feasible but thoroughly enjoyable. The effortless skiing on its even surfaces keeps your legs fresh and your cruising speeds up. The liberating effect of the extra-wide freeways plays with your sense of space and velocity. You can easily find yourself cruising at 80 and using the unmarked passing lanes to your left. Tune your edges and start racking up your laps. 25 should do the trick.
In closing, I must give a special mention to the resort’s ski racks. After 68 mountains skied, these original 1980s racks from the 1980’s are not only novel but have outclassed all others by a considerable margin. This imaginative and logical design assures that skis, poles and boards stay organized and upright. Incredible how such a s simple and often taken for granted aspect of the the skier’s experience can be made better with a little thought and care. Bravo to the engineers!
Check your Air Miles account, get to Calgary and hit the slopes on the same day. Only 50 minutes from the airport, Nakiska should easily be your first destination out west, a gateway mountain to the Rockies. As we would say in Ontario, Nakiska Ski Resort is ‘’yours to discover’’.
This has been a guest blog post, written by:
I’ve tried to teach my child a number of sports on my own and it’s usually ended with tears, frustration, and a severe dislike for the activity on a few occasions. Even when I’ve been moderately successful in teaching the “basics,” I’ve always chosen to call for outside help to reinforce proper technique, build skills, and take my child to the next level.
When it comes to skiing, I know I am far from being an expert. I am an intermediate skier (at best) and still fear wiping out on an easy run while my son passes me and gets to the bottom of the hill without me. Teaching him to ski by myself is therefore not an option I am willing to entertain.
Thankfully, we chose to start off correctly with skiing and we placed our son in lessons from early on. The first lesson was only an hour and a half long but it gave our son a good “first impression” of the sport in a positive supportive environment. The teacher was fun and relaxed, didn’t get angry or show frustration, and kept the pressure light. My child responded well to the lesson and was able to work on the skills he learned with us in the afternoon.
I have many reasons for being a ski school supporter but below are my top five:
- Quality training from a professional instructor. We all know that kids usually learn best when somebody else is the teacher and skiing is no exception. The Nakiska Ski School instructors have years of experience under their belts and are prepared with games, activities, and fun tricks to make your child’s ski experience a fun one.
- Ski School Offers a Relaxed Start to the Day. I find the first hour at a ski resort to be the most stressful. Just getting the family and gear to the day lodge exhausts me and I need a few minutes to sip a coffee and relax before hitting the slopes. Fortunately, I’ve learned that if I put my son in morning lessons, I will get that quiet time to unwind once the lesson starts and I can slowly work at getting my own skis on and making my way on to the hill.
- Ski School Offers Adults Time to Ski on their Own. My husband will tell you that as long as he gets a couple of hours to ski the more advanced runs in the morning, he’s happy to take it easy in the afternoon cruising down the easier terrain with the family. Ski school allows the adults in the family some time to ski on their own or to ski with older children while the younger ones are in their class.
- Nakiska Resort Offers Family Lessons. I took a mountain biking lesson with my son this summer and it was a lot of fun learning new skills together. I can imagine that for a family who is new to skiing, it would be a lot of fun to learn together. Nakiska offers affordable packages for the whole family to take a lesson together with individual tips offered to each member of the family.
- Ski Lessons Can Be Paired with Daycare. For the toddlers and little ones in your family, an hour on the hill might be all they can handle. Nakiska’s daycare program includes a lesson along with indoor and outdoor play time while the rest of the family enjoys their time on the hill. Packages can be purchased for the whole day or for just a half day if you still want to ski with your munchkin in the afternoon for a while or if you have a season’s pass and just want to spend a half day at the hill.
My son has taken a few private lessons now and has tried a resort daycare program as well with nothing but success and happiness. I don’t think there’s been a single tear and we still remember our first instructor’s name. Ski School has contributed greatly towards my child’s enjoyment of skiing and I’m grateful that we’ve chosen to invest in this program.
Follow Tanya’s adventures on her blog.
Words by Tanya Koob
Photos by Tanya Koob & Abbydell Photography