Thursday, March 6, 2014

Canada Calling

My son, Fergus somersaulting at Lake Louise
Photo by Cam Sadler
I've just arrived in Canada: going to be skiing at Lake Louise, Sunshine Village and Nakiska in Alberta and Kimberley in British Columbia over the next two weeks - bliss! The resorts of Alberta and the East Kootenays in BC are perfect for a ski safari. Even the driving segments between ski hills are gorgeous with all that national park scenery, towering mountain backdrop, Rocky Mountain sheep and elk grazing nearby (sometimes on the road) and usually not too many hold ups. Snow clearance is really good in Canada and there is never too much traffic in all that winter wilderness. I love stopping off a quirky rural townships and trying out community cafes - there's a trendy one in Radium called Meet on Higher Ground that has gluten free bread and cakes and organic lattes.

Showing off my Savory 7s at Snowbasin, Utah in Feb
As you read this, I'm probably in Calgary picking up my brand new Savory 7 Rossignol skis. I rented these at Sundance in Feb, and then again when I skied Deer Valley, Alta, Snowbasin and Canyons. And I really hated giving them back to Ski Butlers rental service! I had wanted to try out a fat powder ski to see if that was what I wanted to buy next. And, of course, they were fabulous in all the Utah powder and churned up fresh snow. What I was amazed by was how great they also were on the hard-packed, slick sections of groomers and on bumps. Hero skis!

Chatting with Calgary's Ian Hunter recently, I discovered the science behind my practical perceptions. Ian, Rossignol rep for AB and East Kootenays, told me the Savory 7 (and the Soul 7 for men) is a hybrid ski, merging rocker technology with camber and sidecut. The rocker components at tip and tail give the ski "super turnability and floatation in powder because of its water ski shape," he explains. The camber aspects in the middle of the ski give stability and a solid platform for harder packed, groomed snow. "If you have to have just one ski it should be the Soul (or Savory) 7," Ian says. And as Rossignol has exceeded its sales expectations for the 7 series by 400 percent, it looks like the general public agrees.
Silvertip Club Lodge
Another interesting Canadian snippet - a new heli ski venture launching next season. It's the Silvertip Club, a luxurious lakeside lodge in the Cariboo Mountains. Previously part of the Canadian Mountain Holidays portfolio before the Intrawest/Fortress takeover, the lovely lodge was bought by John Baker, an Atlanta architect/businessman who was introduced to heli by CMH's legendary founder, Hans Gmoser. "Getting out of the helicopter, the snow literally went up to my waist and we were on the skinny skis back then, 2 10s," John told me. "There were two guides but also this third guy. Just after we took off after the first run, the third guide came up and tapped me on the shoulder and said come with me. He figured if anyone needed help it was me! I ended up with a half day private lesson and it turned out to be with Hans Gmoser!"

Having been hooked on heli since, John's now seeking six select members for his own private heli ski club. Buy in is between $375,000 and $500,000, but members get an equity share of the business and choice of fully-staffed heli weeks and secluded summer vacations - complete with spa chalet - for life. After coughing up the initial membership fee, a private heli week will cost half of typical heli ski operations. And there's room for up to 22 friends for a heavenly heli house party - just remember to invite me along!

Heli Heaven at Silvertip Club

You can also find out how skiing keeps families playing together by checking out my article on Parallel Play in Canada's Big 3 ski resorts at: (scroll to page 114-115).

If you've never skied, how about trying Ski Canada's Discover packages? Available at various resorts around Canada, these start at $30. Typical packages include beginner lift tickets, rentals and a one hour group lesson in your choice of skiing, snowboarding or Cross Country - It could completely change your life and the way you spend your vacations.

And if elevated eating is more your cup of tea, check out my article in Eat Drink Travel at: 

1 comment:

  1. Canada is calling me again to try skiing activity. The last time I been there was a blast and all I can say is perfect ski vacation.

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