Ski the Big Three this weekend

Ski the Big Three this weekend

JOANNE ELVES

BANFF, AB - Can you feel it? It’s that tingle in your veins, the rush of anticipation and that voice in the back of your head saying, “There’s snow on those slopes! Let’s go!” 

With all the snow that has been falling, it’s hard to ignore that voice, especially because all three Banff resorts are opening today. 

Here’s what to expect from the three resorts in Banff and Lake Louise:

Mount Norquay

Only minutes from the town of Banff, Norquay was first out of the gates for the entire country by opening runs on Oct.  25.  It’s been open for weekends only, but that’s good enough for a serious snow hound like Marcus Holm, who along with the Banff Alpine Racers, plans to be there every minute he’s not in school.

“Those kids don’t care if all the trails aren’t open,” says his mother, Susan Holm. “All they want is a few good trails and they are gone for the day.”

Norquay is open today through Monday. The Cascade chair will be the only lift open. Ticket prices (including GST) are reduced to $25 for adults and $10 for children (6-12). Currently, the official opening for the entire resort is Nov. 30with the tube park scheduled to open in December. Until Nov. 30, Norquay will continue to be open on weekends only.

Lake Louise Ski Area

Even the people who work at the resorts are thrilled with the early season. Mike Moynihan of Lake Louise says it’s shaping up to be a long white winter.

“I have been dreaming about skiing, so like everyone else, I can’t wait to strap on the boards at ‘The Lake.’ We have been getting some great early season snowfall in the upper alpine and back bowls. It is a great sign, and all clues are pointing to another great winter at Lake Louise,” says Moynihan.

This is an early opening says Moynihan but not a record. In 1985 Lake Louise opened on Oct. 31

In the last 48 hours Lake Louise has seen over 25 cms of fluff drape over the runs, pushing the year-to-date accumulation to well over 100 cm to carve in the back bowls. 

Lake Louise is opening today for the season but on limited runs off the Glacier chairlift. But don’t let that stop you from enjoying the snow. With reduced lifts open, that means reduced ticket prices. Expect to pay $41.50 Adult, $31.50 Youth/Senior, and $14.95 Child (including GST). Louise Plus Card holders, can either use their first free day, or take the option of using it later and get a $5 courtesy discount on the early season rates. If the snow piled up over night, there are chances that the rail park will have something ready for the grinders.

Sunshine Village Ski and Snowboard Resort 

A full eight days sooner than last year and it’s looking to be another excellent winter on the slopes at Sunshine. The snowpack is already close to one metre thick with more than 19 cm landing in the last 48 hours. You will find five of the 12 lifts open including Strawberry Express, Angel, WaWa, Wolverine and the Jack Rabbit quad. Ticket prices are reduced for opening day to $69.95 Adults, $55.95 Seniors, $53.95 Youth and child is $27.95 (GST is extra). 

Watch for the new conveyer loading system on WaWa to open soon. For the riders and skiers who venture into the terrain park, expect to see six new features including new tubby rails, a 24-foot city arch bridge and a 16-foot tubby tank.

Of course this is early season for all of the Big 3 so be prepared for those early season hazards. Ride and slide with care. We’ve got a long wonderful season ahead.

Keep an eye on the Ski Banff Lake Louise website for the latest news, deals and packages and snow conditions at the Big 3. 

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