First-time snowboarder: 'Wow, it was amazing!'

#NewSkiAB #SkiClose

Are you new to Canada? Ready to enjoy winter and learn to ski or snowboard? Read on to discover what the experience was like for one recent newcomer at Nakiska Ski Area. Follow and tag #NewSkiAB to share your Alberta winter adventures with other like-minded explorers!

Nakiska Ski Area - It was an epic day of winter firsts for Kausar Kallaru recently: her first time visiting a Canadian Rockies ski resort, her first time trying a winter sport – and on a snowboard no less!

Kallaru moved to Calgary from southern India in January 2020, but because of COVID restrictions she didn’t really get to experience many activities during her first winter in Canada. After that first season she knew she had to find a winter sport to stay active during the winter months, and decided on snowboarding lessons. In spring 2021 she seized the moment and along with her sister, they donned helmets, goggles, snow jackets, pants and gloves and took their first snowboarding lesson at Nakiska.

“Wow, it was amazing! I’ve never done something like this!” Kallaru said. She's been counting the days since, keen to get back again.

Emmett Finnigan, who’s been a snowboard and ski instructor at Nakiska for five years, said he was impressed with Kallaru and her sister since it was their first time on the snow. “She was doing amazing. They had more balance, and they were linking turns. It was inspiring to see.”

The lesson was an all-round positive experience, says Kallaru “It didn’t feel like two hours, it just flew by because I was really enjoying myself.”

In the days leading up to the lesson, Kallaru had a hard time finding ski wear at local stores. So, she started scouting Facebook Marketplace for second-hand gear and scored an entire outfit the night before. “Everything came together; jackets, pants, helmet, goggles and gloves.”

Nakiska Alberta Kananaskis #NewSkiAB snowboard ski lessons
Photo: Karl Lee
The Kallaru family gets suited up in Nakiska's equipment rentals shop.

Kallaru, 32, said they were eager to arrive early to check out the resort before their lessons. She didn’t realize how close Nakiska was to Calgary and loved the drive to the resort, heading south on scenic Highway 40 from the Trans-Canada. “The location is amazing.”

“I was so excited to get on the hill … the ambiance gives you a lot of energy,” she said. “There were kids passing by me. It was so good to see; they’d fall and get up again.”

Learn more about new skier and boarder programs at Nakiska.

Any feelings of anxiety melted away after meeting her instructor Emmett Finnigan. Kallaru says her instructor made her feel instantly comfortable with his structured style of teaching, perfect for beginners.

“He knows who he is training so he was customizing his (lessons). He’s really good at what he does.”


A post shared by Troy Fyhn (@troyfyhn)

Nakiska Alberta Kananaskis #NewSkiAB snowboard ski lessons
Photo: Karl Lee
Nakiska instructor Emmett Finnigan helps students learn balance.

Now that she has what she needs to get back out on the slopes again, she’s determined to try it again. And she thinks anyone who is hesitant to try it for themselves shouldn’t shy away from trying at least once. “You should not stop yourself from trying even if it’s cold. If you have the right instructor, they will guide you.”

She’s keen to get back out for more lessons and says in the next year or two, she pictures herself getting out on her own because it puts her in a good mood and helps her to enjoy winter even more.

“I’m glad I had this experience. It will stay in my head for a long time… until I get on the snowboard again.”

Want to take a lesson?

SnowSeekers’ #NewSkiAB can get you and your significant other or you and a buddy on the slopes for your first lessons at Lake Louise.

Sign up today for private ski or snowboard lessons at Nakiska and up those skills and your love of winter. There are lots of spaces available!

SnowSeekers is stoked to partner with HEAD Skis, Lake Louise Ski Resort and our friends at Immigrant Services Calgary. A legacy of our #Calgary2026 work, we’ve formed this #NewSkiAB partnership, helping to welcome more diversity to Western Canada’s slopes. Check out this story about another new skier hitting the slopes. 


#NewSkiAB Nights

In Calgary and looking for some help getting started? Come out for #NewSkiAB Nights, Nov 26 and Dec 9, and get help from industry pros to get set for the season.

When You Go

Nakiska Ski Area is in the Treaty 7 Territory region of Southern Alberta. Treaty 7 encompasses the traditional lands of the Îyârhe Nakoda Nations of Chiniki, Wesley, and Bearspaw, the Tsuut’ina First Nation, the Kainai, Siksika, and Piikani Nations of the Niitsitapi (Blackfoot) Confederacy, and Métis Nation of Alberta, Region III.

  • From Calgary, the drive to Nakiska is approximately one hour.
  • Preview weekend at Nakiska is tentatively scheduled for Nov 6, 2021. 
  • Built for the 1988 Winter Olympics, Nakiska and nearby Kananaskis Lodge are close enough to Calgary for day trips, but you can also make a weekend of it. Discover more about the ski area and what it offers.
  • Ready to get geared up? Our partner HEAD Skis can get you set up. 

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