Late fall snow has translated to an early start to the ski and snowboard season in Edmonton and across the province.
Edmonton’s Snow Valley Ski Club and Sunridge Ski Area opened their hills this weekend, as did Rabbit Hill Ski Club just outside the city.
Snow Valley was packed with skiers and snowboarders on Saturday afternoon, excited about the early start to the season.
“It’s been a fantastic day so far, lots of people out but the chairlift is moving really quickly, hardly any lines and everything. It’s great,” said a man who was at the hill with his family.
To compare, Snow Valley opened on Dec. 2 last year.
“It’s been a beautiful day. We couldn’t have asked for nicer weather to open,” general manager Shawn Balog said. “It’s so great to open this weekend. It’s an early start for us, early start for all the Edmonton ski areas and the mountains. We’re all opening at the same time pretty well so it’s a great start to the season.”
Snow Valley started making snow on Halloween and has been working around the clock to get the hill ready for the season. Balog said the cooler weather has made for a “perfect storm” for snow-making crews.
“We’ve had the right temperatures and not much wind. So our snow-making crew had all our guns going 24/7 and we’ve been making about a million gallons of snow a day, which is just awesome.”
The hill is currently offering private lessons, with its full schedule of programs set to start on Nov. 24.
Several mountain parks also opened this weekend, including Sunshine Village in Banff National Park and Marmot Basin in Jasper National Park.
This season is particularly exciting for Marmot Basin, as the hill opened brand new terrain this season. “Tres Hombres” offers seven steep, deep Black Diamond runs for advanced skiers and snowboarders.
Watch below: Marmot Basin opens “Tres Hombres” this season
Mount Norquay in Banff National Park was the first ski resort to open in Canada this season. The slopes opened last weekend, thanks in part to a 27-centimetre one-day dump of snow.