Let’s face it: a successful (read: fun from start to finish) ski season always comes with some necessary pre-planningWhat about tickets, or passes? Do I rent or buy equipment? What to pack?   

From understanding the essential gear, clueing into all those passed-down-through-generations skier’s tips on keeping warm no matter the temperature, and getting yourself from the parking lot to the first chair, all comes with practice, know-how, and a little time getting organized before you even hit the resort.  

Yes, knowing how to best prepare for the slope can be daunting.  But it doesn’t have to be.  

For this season particularly, with Albertans working to keep safe and healthy during the pandemic and adjusting all aspects of their daily lives accordingly, there’s now even more reason to get in the habit of “know before you go”, so that nothing comes between you and the thrill of downhill – no matter your age or experience level.  

‘Go Ski Alberta’, as a dedicated ski and snowboard resource for guiding Albertans on exactly what they need to know about heading out and enjoying snow sports – including top tips on and how to plan for visiting the many resorts in the Province – is sharing one simple message this season: get the info you need before you go, and “ski smart”. 

“This season, more than any other, is calling for Albertans to be incredibly considerate and spatially aware when they’re at a ski area or resort, says Christopher Nicolson, on behalf of Go Ski Alberta. 

‘Ski Smart’ is part of the North American ‘Ski Well, Be Well’ initiative, based on guidance from health authorities, the WHO, and infectious disease experts – and developed with input from ski industry leaders from across North America.   

Nicolson continues: “Ski Smart is about creating a collective mantra for how we will ski or ride this season; it’s a series of easy-to-remember pointers for Albertans of all ages to use as their check marks, while visiting any resort.  

We’re confident that by giving Albertans the know-how to prepare for and navigate the ski area of their choice, safely and sensibly, we’ll all be able to get that much-needed outdoor time all season long – which is a necessary respite for this collectively stressful period we’re living through”. 

And skiing and snowboarding can certainly provide that respite, with snow sports – as a way of getting active in the outdoors – proven to ease stress and lift mood, give a mental boost from being in nature and appreciating the Albertan landscapes we’re fortunate to have close to home, move the entire body, and get the heart racing.  

For a currently physically distanced society, hitting the hill is a great option to get outside and get moving with those you’re close too.  Skiing and snowboarding, by nature, encourages mindfulness of others on the slope – with typically wide-open spaces to explore, and the natural separation that comes from having skis or a snowboard underfoot.   

Think of this too: the average chairlift ride is just 7 minutes long, considerably shorter than most transportation activities such as riding a bus or taking a trip in an airplane – with chairs spaced approximately 15 meters apart.  Plus, you’re travelling open air.   

HOW TO REST EASY THAT YOU’RE SKIING SMART  

To be ‘ski smart’ all season long, remember and follow these guidelines every time: 

1. Cover Up (Face Coverings are Now Part of Your Ski Attire) 

Out on the slopes it’s easy to stay 2meters from the nearest person, but other areas may be busier. So, a face covering (which should fit snugly over both the mouth and nose – note, masks with ventilation/air holes are not appropriate) should be worn whenever physical distancing of 2m is more difficult to consistently maintain – such as lift lines, on lifts and indoor spaces. 

2. Follow Signage (Remember, Each Resort is Different) 

Different protocols might apply at different locations around the resort. Keep your eyes peeled for signs which will help explain any guidelines you need to be aware of and follow. 

3. Space Out (Ski Pole Distance Apart) 

Ski areas have hundreds of acres of open terrain for recreation, so take advantage of all that space. Physical distancing protocols will be in place for both indoor and outdoor spaces and might vary at different locations. Make sure you understand the rules for the ski hill you’re visiting. 

4. Plan Ahead (Hit the Web for Custom Resort Arrival Details) 

We know you’re itching to strap on your board(s) and hit the slopes. Plan ahead and take the time to check the website of the ski hill you’d like to visit for any important information.  Each ski hill may have slightly different rules & protocols. Some may prefer you book ahead or follow specific directions on arrival.  Knowing what to expect before you arrive avoids any surprises & means you can focus on having fun. 

5. Ski Well (Stay Home if Not Well) 

Outdoor recreation, including skiing and snowboarding, is proven to improve mental and physical health, so it’s a great way to feel better. But if you’re showing any symptoms of illness, stay home. 

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: WHAT TO EXPECT FROM YOUR SKI RESORT THIS SEASON 

Alberta has over 30 ski areas – from smaller community hills to the larger mountain resorts of Banff & Lake Louise – all of which are operated by expert teams with decades of experience, well versed on keeping safety at the forefront of the resort’s day-to-day operations.   

Your local ski area is armed with up-to-date information and guidance on what you need to know ahead of your visit; check in with them frequently.  Each ski area across the Province is different, so arrival instructions and guidelines will vary.  Head to their websites and social media channels for the latest info, take note of ski area signage carefully, or call / email their customer service team if you have questions or are unsure of how to approach your ski day.   

Some resorts have adapted their arrival, ticket payment, and lift pass scanning processes with touchless technology too, meaning less personal contact with guests and employees.  Things like this, and all other changes and things to be aware of, will be on each resort’s website.    

To search for ski areas across the Province, see here

BEGINNER TIPS; DON’T LET FIRST-TIME NERVES GET IN THE WAY OF THE FUN 

Boasting one of the longest ski seasons in the world, Alberta is certainly a prime spot to be when the winter arrives.  No other sensation surpasses the feeling you get when you’re staring down a snow-covered slope, ready to carve down the hill.   

But, reaching that moment of glory on skis or a board can sometimes feel like one long journey to beginners.  That’s why Go Ski Alberta offers top tips, video resources and inspirational content to get going (and have fun) on the snow.  Before you know it, you’ll be having those always memorable #SnowProud moments.   

If it’s your first time on the hill, make sure you check out the tips section on the Go Ski Alberta website.