Ah, winter weather, it’s an all-Canadian love story.
Why, who doesn’t enjoy eight long months of intimately scraping off icy car windshields, flirting with frostbite under a bright full moon, sharing a lovely cold with co-workers, and falling head over heels for that ice you overlooked in the grocery store parking lot.
Well, at least there are the fun parts of the cold season to look forward to.
Ski junkies can rejoice as this Friday marks the start of the new downhill ski season when Mount Norquay in Banff National Park opens to the public – the first in the Great White North to do so.
In the following days and weeks, more local and western Canadian ski hills are set to welcome back ski junkies (see A34 for more details and dates), while the Nordic ski season in the Bow Valley got underway in October when the two-kilometre Frozen Thunder snow track opened at the Canmore Nordic Centre.
As much as the Bow Valley and surrounding area have grown and turned into a year-round adventure sport destination, loved by rock climbers and mountain bikers, among others, the tried and true winter sports will always reign top dog ‘round these parts.
From recreational to high performance, one thing missing from this season’s list of international events is the Lake Louise alpine world cup, also known as last year’s worst kept secret in the alpine world. The national governing body Alpine Canada is still finalizing the future of the men’s event, but with the economic model at Lake Louise “challenging the past few years," don’t hold your breath on a return anytime soon.
However, as the Bow Valley says goodbye to ski idols Mikaela Shiffrin and Marco Odermatt, we get to say hello to the likes of Nordic stars Dorothea Wierer and Johannes Klaebo.
The Bow Valley will still get high-level world cup action early next year, with the top athletes in both cross-country skiing and biathlon coming to Canmore in February and March, respectively. It’s believed the area will receive a substantial economic uptick because of the athletic visitors during this time.
The road to the skiing world cup officially got underway last weekend when dozens of young skiers and top athletes, like Olympian Katherine Stewart-Jones participated in the Alberta World Cup Society and Fast and Female event in Canmore.
This week and next, both sports hold their highly competitive national trial races at Frozen Thunder, which are an opportunity for athletes to impress coaches with final spots on top teams on the line.
Speaking of the Canmore Nordic Centre, among renovations up there that will be done early next year including the new Nordic ski facility and widening the biathlon range, early season skiers can be delighted with the knowledge that Frozen Thunder will be tripled in length to six km starting in fall 2024.
As part of the face-lift, there will be storage space for triple the amount of snow in the off-season, about 42,000 cubic metres worth of the white stuff which is covered in sawdust to preserve it in the spring and summer months.
Yes, it's getting colder and darker outside, but dangit, there's just so much to look forward to.