What are friends for? Learning how to ski at Nakiska

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Sometimes it takes a little nudge to get into skiing. For Ethel Telavera, all she needed was a friend's encouragement and a ski lesson at Nakiska, just one hour from Calgary, and she was hooked! Nakiska Ski Area is open to April 28.

It took a few conversations during their children’s weekly playdates before Mariana Fonseca convinced her friend Ethel Telavera to try skiing.

Telavera was hesitant after one experience snowboarding with her husband. That had discouraged her from trying again. 

But Fonseca, 36, kept working on her every time they met, keeping the ski conversation going all last summer, telling her she need to let go of her fears. “I told her I fell a hundred times when I was first learning but that I was still having fun.”

As spring 2022 neared, and the prospect of warm days on the ski hill with friends, Fonseca kept the pressure on.

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From beginner ski lesson to season's pass holder in one day

Then the day came, said Telavara, “And I said to Mariana, ‘OK, let’s do it!’”

They headed out to Nakiska Ski Area, in Kananaskis, just a one-hour drive (approximately) from Calgary. Fonseca watched with delight from the sidelines as Telavera took her first ski lesson. “She was good on the bunny hill; she mastered everything.”

Telavera was so inspired after her first ski lesson with an instructor that she bought a season’s pass to Nakiska. Now she and Fonseca can plan family ski days together through the spring skiing season.

“It was a great experience,” she says. “It was so fun. The instructor, oh my gosh, he was so good.”

  • Friends rent skis at Nakiska Ski Area in Kananaskis, AB
    Telavera and Fonseca grab day rentals from the ski shop at Nakiska. / Paul Lavoie
  • Learn to ski lesson Nakiska Ski Area AB
    Starting on the bunny hill for Telavera. / Paul Lavoie
  • Learn to ski lesson Nakiska Ski Area AB
    Telavera learns to snowplow with her Nakiska instructor. / Paul Lavoie
  • Apres-ski at Nakiska Ski Area AB
    Telavera and Fonseca celebrate after a fun day of skiing together. / Paul Lavoie

Fonseca and Telavera met in Calgary where they have been living for a few years. Both had moved from Mexico and, over the past few years, their families have embraced Canadian winters.

“We don’t really love the heat; we had that for our whole lives,” says Fonseca, 34, who has five-year-old twins who ski and a two-year-old who will eventually get on the slopes.

Both Telavera’s and Fonseca’s husbands snowboard, but the two friends have discovered that skiing is so much easier. “It’s like skating,” says Fonseca. “I could do it.”

Fonseca had a bit of skiing under her belt as a young girl, when her parents took her for a couple of ski trips. “My mom was just like, ‘Get on the lift and go down the hill doing a pizza.’ I just went for it.”

These days, her skiing has improved dramatically and she’s in love with the sport. “It’s hard to explain. It’s an amazing feeling. Once you’re down (the mountain) you just want to go back up again.”

And after that first lesson Fonseca knows Telavera will feel the same way. If that first day on the bunny hill is any indication, it appears the two friends will be skiing together for a long time. Telavera says her goal is to become a “bunny hill professional” building up her confidence to “go up the mountain.” In fact, she says, she immediately told her instructor that she’ll be back to take another lesson with him.

In the future, both plan to get their families out on the slopes at Nakiska. Perhaps even a spring break trip is in their future.

“We are going to buy season’s passes every year. My husband likes snowboarding so much and my girl, too,” says Telavera. And something her husband said after that first lesson made her even happier that she’s learning to ski.

“He told me it’s nice you are learning – or otherwise you will be just sitting in a chair looking at us having fun.”

READY TO TAKE A SKI OR SNOWBOARD LESSON?

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

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, Nakiska Ski Area and our friends at Immigrant Services Calgary. Through #NewSkiAB our aim is to welcome more diversity to Western Canada’s slopes. 

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.
  • 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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