Bundle Up, Bring a Friend and Learn to Ski This Winter Just Like Me

Editor's note: With the unpredictability of COVID-19, some 2020-'21 events are up in the air. Be sure to watch the local organizers' websites for the latest updates. 

My parents didn’t have the opportunity to learn how to ski or snowboard growing up. They lived in Vietnam meaning there was no snow. But they’d read about this popular Canadian winter pastime, and they’d seen photos in books in school. It looked cold, my mom recalled.

When they arrived in Canada in the 1980s, they didn’t get a chance to hit the slopes. They were learning English, they were working multiple jobs, they were doing what they could to ensure their kids (my two brothers and I) could have a good life. And we did!

Part of that good life meant getting the opportunity to try things our parents never did, like skiing and snowboarding. My brothers and I leaned towards snowboarding growing up and although we only went occasionally over the years, sometimes on smaller, more accessible hills in the city, sometimes in the mountains, just a quick drive away. Anytime we did hit the slopes, we felt so thrilled and lucky to be there. Skiing and snowboarding are just one of those quintessentially Canadian things you’ve just got to try, and you can try almost anywhere in the country but especially on hills all over Alberta.

#ExploreAlberta go #NewSkiAB. Learn more on our expedition page

Watch Go Ski Alberta: First time taking ski lessons on YouTube.

Each winter offers a new opportunity to embrace Canadiana and try something new.

Now, at age 30, I’m getting ready to learn how to ski for the very first time with SnowSeekers and Snow Valley Ski Club, Edmonton. Similar to WinSport in Calgary, the ski club offers ski and snowboard adult learning programs for all skill levels, in a safe and comfortable environment, over three or five weeks, depending on the start date you select. These lessons are just one of the ways new Canadians (or those who are new to Canadian activities) can experience right here in Alberta. #NewSkiAB

If you’re worried about it being cold or too scary, like my mom, don't be! Or, maybe you're thinking I have to buy all that gear. Nearly all of Alberta's ski hills rent gear for all ages and skill level. 

Bundle up. Bring a friend. Find someone to teach you. The province is filled with downhill ski destinations that have multi-language first-time ski and snowboard classes and multi-week women’s only camps, too. 

Watch Go Ski Alberta: Top of the mountain on YouTube.

Many Albertans, like my husband who grew up on a farm just west of Edmonton, have been cruising through pow (snowboarding through fresh snow) since they were kids, and would likely be thrilled to teach you this very Canadian skill.

Or, like I’m doing this winter, sign up for a class and have a professional lead the way.

There are a lot of things about Canada that can come as a shock for newcomers, our long and cold winters are certainly one of them. But one of the best things to do when the temperature drops and the snow starts to fall is to get excited about all the winter activities you can try, including skiing and snowboarding.

When You Go

To learn more about all the options, visit some of our partners' websites for details.

WinSport - This is the place so many new Calgarians and residents of nearby communities learn to ski. It's accessible right in the northwest of the city. If offers an array of classes for all ages and abilities.

Lake Louise Mountain Resort - In the heart of the Canadian Rockies, besides great skiing and snow, there's another reason people come here. It's home some of the best views you'll find in Canada. The Lakes' ski school has a variety on instructors who collectively speak over 17 languages.

Nakiska Ski Resort - This ski and snowboard destination was built specifically to host the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics and is only 45 minutes from Calgary. How cool would it be to learn at a legacy spot like this? Its ski school for kids ages three to adults makes learning to ski or board a snap.

Snow Valley - set within the middle of Edmonton’s river valley, come learn to ski or snowboard here for an urban outdoor winter experience few cities in the world can offer.

Every heard of Nordic skiing yet?  Head cross country on some skinny skis that will get you to places full of winter AWEsome.  What about snow tubing, ever tried that yet?  Or how about snowshoeing in the mountains - there are so many options available next to downhill skiing or snowboarding that will build confidence and make you a better Albertan.


Did you know?

Are you looking to learn how to ski or how to snowboard? Here are some awesome tips and tricks that will make your experience that much easier.

Did you know that you can enjoy daily return bus transportation between Calgary and Lake Louise.

Are you looking to head to more than just one mountain? Take advantage of SkiBig3's Guided Adventures that will take you to 3 resorts in 3 days.

WinSport, in Northwest Calgary, makes it easy for first timers, with WinSport's first time ski or snowboard programs. Learn more here.

Make sure to check out our #NewSkiAB Expedition page to learn great tips to get you confident on the slopes.

Are you thinking about learning to ski this year? Share this page with your snow-loving, fun-loving friends and start planning.

Linda Hoang is a second-generation Canadian, and a SnowSeekers' correspondent. Find her travel guides at www.linda-hoang.com and follow her @lindork on Twitter Instagram and Facebook

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