Author: Debbie Olsen

Debbie is a writer, researcher, traveller, mom, wife, foodie, gardener, housekeeper, photographer, and occasional hormone-crazed maniac. She has contributed to eight Fodor’s guide books about Alberta and writes regular columns for the Calgary Herald and the Red Deer Advocate.

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It’s a perfect day to learn to ski. A fresh layer of light airy powder has just fallen and all the runs at Canyon Ski Resort lie trackless in the morning light. My 13-year-old daughter raises a pink ski mitt and waves goodbye as she boards the chairlift with one of her friends. On a normal day, I would be skiing right alongside them, but this is no ordinary day. Today I am a parent helper on the annual junior high school ski trip and my services are required in the beginner ski area where there are plenty of first time skiers.

Big Area, Small Price

Just 10 minutes east of Red Deer, Canyon Ski Resort is Alberta’s largest non-mountain resort. It has a lot to offer visitors with 18 runs, six lifts, lights for night skiing, a ski lodge, a large ski school, equipment rentals and a cafeteria. The 28.6 hectare ski area has a 164 m (538 ft) vertical drop and features a wide variety of terrain with 30 per cent of the runs designated black diamond (advanced), 30 per cent intermediate and 40 per cent novice. The terrain dedicated to novices and an excellent ski school are a winning combination for anyone learning to ski or wanting to brush up on their skills before taking on the challenges of the big mountain resorts

There’s also a tube run and a tube lift, a terrain park and a super pipe, all of which are incredibly popular on weekends. Although the resort has many amenities and has hosted major events, lift ticket prices at Canyon are far lower than those at the mountain resorts, making it a great value for families and large groups.

Beginner Friendly

There are 20 ski instructors at the ski school but on school field trip days they use parent volunteers to give one-on-one attention to young skiers and boarders who are on the hill for the first time. As I arrive at the base of the beginner ski area, I find two girls who are struggling to get on the magic carpet. It’s their first time ever on skis and they are both a little nervous. The pair have a lesson in about an hour’s time, so I work with another parent to help them learn the basics before the instructor arrives.

When it’s time for their lesson, I head up the hill in search of my daughter and her friends and find them near the terrain park. We do a few runs together and by the time I return to the bunny hill, the novice skiers are skiing independently. It’s amazing what one lesson and a little practice can do – on the right hill.

By late afternoon, I sit in the ski lodge with another parent helping kids get their ski gear off. As the last student climbs aboard the last bus, we head back up the hill to do one more run. Being a parent field trip helper can be a tough job – except on ski trip days.

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  • Skiing
  • Snowboarding
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