Five ways to prepare for your Alberta ski holiday

Author: Jane Marshall

Jane is an Edmonton-based travel writer. You never know where you’ll find her – maybe on a remote Himalayan trail, dropping a chute on a powder day in the Rockies or interviewing a unique character she’s encountered on her travels.


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Banff & Lake Louise Tourism / Noel Hendrickson

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Your passport is in hand and your air travel is booked, but are you really ready for that dream trip to ski or snowboard the Canadian Rockies? Before that chairlift rolls into motion, here are some tips to ensure you look and feel like a pro on the slopes of Alberta.

Bringing your own gear

If you are bringing your own equipment, remember that any ski trip requires packing precious – and bulky – cargo. Some things to consider:

  • You’ll need some kind of carrying case for your skis or board on the airplane. Travel bags are lightweight and easier to manage, but hard cases offer better protection in an airplane cargo hold. Decide which will work best for you.
  • If you are travelling light, you might be able to fit your boots into your carry-on bag. Check the size and weight limits on your airline and keep your packing lean.
  • Rules for checking skis differ between airlines, so make sure you know the rules and costs before you arrive at the airport to depart.

Buying brand new gear

If you aren’t bringing your gear, you have a few options once you arrive in Alberta. If you are looking to buy, check these locally-owned specialty ski shops:

  • Banff: Monod Sports. These guys have been around for 66 years. They know downhill skiing. Find them at 129 Banff Avenue.
  • Calgary: Abom Ski and Board. A family owned and operated shop with more than 50 years of experience. Find them at 410 Crowchild Trail NW.
  • Jasper: Totem Ski Shop. This company has been in Jasper for more than a century. Go talk to the experts. Find them at 408 Connaught Drive.
  • Edmonton: Sundance Ski and Board Shop. Owned by two of Edmonton’s most enthusiastic riders, including Alex Messinis, a former pro snowboarder. Find them at 4745 Gateway Boulevard.

Buy used or rent on site

Looking for a deal on used equipment? Try these options:

  • Calgary: Play It Again Sports offers all kinds of deals on gear that has already been broken in. Find them at 270 Stewart Green SW.
  • Online: The MEC outdoor gear swap enables Albertans to recycle all kinds of outdoor gear. Comb through the listings and you might get lucky. See link at the bottom of this article.

Rather rent your equipment? If you like the ease of borrowing skis, nearly every resort in Alberta offers on-site rentals. Marmot Basin has a great rental fleet right at their base lodge; as does Lake Louise, Sunshine Village, Norquay, Nakiska and many more.

Prepare yourself – and your devices

  • Strengthen your thighs with yoga. The best ever ski-prep posture is chair pose, aka utkatasana. Feel your legs burn and shake. In a good way. Strong lungs will also make your day on the slopes more enjoyable, so jump into your favourite cardio routines.
  • Get your phone ready by installing one of myriad ski apps available. Many resorts in Canada have their own apps that offer real-time snow conditions and weather reports. You might also look at the On the Snow app, which offers user-generated snow reports from all over the world. And don’t forget your favourite fitness-tracking app so you can brag about how much terrain you covered.

Get inspired

Ski movies are a genre unto themselves, whether you watch them on tour in your local cinema or in the seemingly endless offerings on YouTube. Here are some surefire ways to get yourself inspired to ski.

  • Matchstick Productions taps you into the most shiver-making, heart pumping, adrenaline squirting skiing on earth. This year’s movie-on-tour is Ruin and Rose, and it’s on a global tour.
  • Warren Miller’s offerings are the great granddaddy of ski movies, and have been inspiring skiers for generations. Check out his films, both old and new.
  • Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival: The world’s best celebration of mountain films and books happens in Banff every year. If you can’t make it to Banff for the festival in early November, watch for the world tour coming near you.
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