Thursday, January 19, 2017

You Are My Sunshine

You can almost hear the carving - Sunshine Village by Reuben Krabbe (Courtesy of SkiBig3)
Celebrity endorsement is a powerful thing for any business. So it doesn’t hurt that Hollywood heroes like Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon and Pierce Brosnan love Sunshine Village. They first patronized its pistes during regular annual visits for Celebrity Ski, a fundraiser for Robert Kennedy Jr’s Waterkeeper Alliance (http://waterkeeper.org/) which saw them all skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and taking part in riotous race events.

Worshipping the Sunshine Village views by Dan Evans
(courtesy of Sunshine Village)
Once skied, never forgotten, Sunshine Village holds a lifelong allure for everyone. Maybe it’s the hero snow which is so soft and sifted that it makes everyone ski like a star, or maybe it’s the magical mountainscape untouched by the travesties of modern development. Being situated in Banff National Park gives the added bonus of strict environmental guidelines limiting growth. And staying at Sunshine Mountain Lodge, 7200 feet high, is an inimitable immersion into the resultant remote elements of this eco-resort.

Going on in the area right now is Banff Snow Days (Jan 13-Feb 5), a winter festival featuring action-packed activities as well as entertaining and educational events around Banff National Park. This is a great time to visit with accommodation packages and prices lower than in the peak periods. For example there are 45 percent discounts at the opulent Fairmont Banff Springs with their SnowDays package. The Banff Winter Package at The Juniper comes with a bonus $25 dining voucher for the Bistro and two passes to the Banff Upper Hot Springs. A key component to Snow Days is Banff’s Big Taste, a culinary festival from Jan 18-22 which focuses on sip and savour tastings, a chef’s dinner, a wild small plate competition and spirit seminars. 

Serenity at Sunshine Village by Dan Evans (courtesy of Sunshine Village)
Back to the actual skiing: the word ‘Sunshine’, by the way, is a bit of a misnomer since Sunshine Village is famous for relentless snow rather than balmy beams. I skied there on many occasions over my month-long Alberta and BC trip this Dec/Jan and I got mostly snow days. Not complaining, though, as there is nothing better than light, dry Continental Divide dumps with powder piling up in the glades and proliferating the pistes. And, of course, whenever I started to feel the cold, I would hop on the Teepee Town LX for the cozy coddling of Canada’s first Orange Bubble Chairlift! I did wonder when this first opened if it might ruin the peace and quiet of the daunting double blacks under the less popular old lift, but Sunshine does a great job of grooming the less radical runs which also serve the new lift, spreading the people out. 

Delirium Dive delights
by Richard Hallman (courtesy of Sunshine Village)
Delirium Dive is Sunshine's off-piste paradise with over 600 acres of expert-only terrain, its pitch averaging 40 degrees and in places exceeding 50. I've skied it a couple of times, taking the wimpish entrance via a metal staircase rather than leaping off the cornice. Intimidating but gratifying!

As well as having extensive expert terrain, Sunshine Village is a playground of potential for newbies to both skiing and riding. The Ski & Snowboard School has an international line-up with 95 instructors from Canada, UK, Germany, Australia, Japan, Panama, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland, catering for many different ethnicities in terms of linguistic skills. 

When it comes to learning something as demanding and technical as skiing or riding “language can be a huge barrier,” says Kendra Scurfield, daughter of CEO and President Ralph Scurfield. “So we are hiring people in the ski school and the hotel with more languages and also looking specifically for Mandarin, Spanish and Portuguese speakers. We’ve reached out to the University of Calgary and different ESL programs to attract people to our ski instructor courses.” Kendra, who is Media Manager for Sunshine, recently graduated with an MBA from the University of Calgary's Haskayne School of Business where Scurfield Hall is named after her late grandfather who donated $8million to have it built. 
Kendra Scurfield at Sunshine Village
Snowboarding enthusiast Kendra is also host of Shredlines, Sunshine’s popular video series. Weekly episodes include tips, tuition and newsy tidbits, responding to what is trending and in demand on social media. Check it out every Thursday on YouTube and also on Sunshine’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/SunshineVillageResort). And you can follow on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/hashtag/shredlines.


Ross Hastings, Director for the SkiBig3 3 Mountain Guided Experience
in the Sunshine Village daylodge with my hubby, Simon Hudson - By Louise Hudson
A fun way to get to know the secrets of Sunshine is to take the 3 Mountain Guided Experience with SkiBig3. This includes sister resorts Lake Louise and Mt Norquay, with a choice of a three-day group program or a private set-up. The same local Snow-Pro takes skiers and riders to each of the three resorts, giving insider insight to the slopes, best snow, vantage-point views and restaurants. Check out my own experiences with this progressive program at: https://www.skibig3.com/blog/camaraderie-and-coaching-with-club-ski/.

Mt Norquay, Banff by Reuben Krabbe (Courtesy of SkiBig3)

And for more tips on skiing Sunshine, please check out my latest Tripedia article at: http://tripedia.info/sunshine-village-banff-by-louise-hudson/


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