Snow Zone

Snow Valley

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Modest-sized but well-run local hill puts the "white" in "Whitemud"

 

Mother Nature didn’t erect any glacial icefields, frost-capped
mountains or, really, even any large hills in Edmonton. And sometimes she
doesn’t supply our river city with snow until well into the winter
months. But there’s still a way for those determined enough to get
their local skiing fix down at Snow Valley. Located just off the Whitemud on
119 Street, Snow Valley offers a quick local solution for both advanced
slope-riders looking to stretch their legs and new snow bunnies just getting
into skiing, snowboarding or cross-country.

Seasonally, Snow Valley sees about 190,000 visitors on its modest, eight-run
slopes, and with its extended season, which generally runs from around
November 5 to the end of March, it’s no wonder so many locals are
getting in on the fun. This year, the resort was the first in Alberta to run
all its lifts, which include a triple chairlift, two T-bars, a towrope and
even a SunKid carpet that pulls kids up the bunny hill like a conveyor belt.
Since the skiing area is only modestly sized, Snow Valley is able to blanket
its runs with heaps of man-made snow throughout the season and the runs are
groomed daily, which makes the hill as good as it gets this far from the real
mountains. There are runs tailored to both advanced and beginner skiers and
snowboarders, but with their limited incline and length, the park is
best-suited for new skiers and those just looking to warm up for the season.
Since packages start at just seven dollars for night skiing during the last
two hours of operation (7 p.m. onward), it’s a great way to invest in
your skills without emptying your pockets. Equipment rentals of all verities
are also accessible on site, or if you’d rather get set for the entire
season, their pro shop stocks all kinds of boots, toques and boards.
Snow Valley also offers a huge assortment of programs: private lessons for
everyone from preschoolers to adult telemark devotees and hour-long group
lessons in skiing and snowboarding run every Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
There are also five-week sessions in freestyle skiing/snowboarding,
performance skiing, racing and skiing technical evaluation. If you’re
looking for something particularly challenging, you might want to check out
the terrain park, which is updated each season with tabletops, rails and
funboxes. Plus, for those interested in making snowy sports a career, the
park has courses in becoming certified teachers in the Canadian Skin
Instructors Alliance.

If you can’t ski or snowboard and have no desire to learn about the
finer points of being hurled down a mountain with large planks of fibreglass
strapped to your feet, there might still be something for you. Starting
December 19, the hill will be open Sunday evenings for snow tubing. For $15
you can take the chairlift up to the summit of the river valley and race your
way down a groomed snow track on a high-velocity inner tube. And, after
you’ve gotten your fill on unlimited runs, there’s the cozy,
17,800-square-foot lodge to warm up in. There you’ll find a full
concession with pizza, hot dogs, snacks, hot chocolate and other goodies, as
well as a grand fireplace to chat around on the upper level.

Those uninterested in the alpine side of things altogether can also enjoy the
park grounds; nestled in the Rainbow Valley Campground there’s a serene
cross-country track where you’ll find a training grid and one-kilometre
loop that offers the same 100 per cent snowmaking coverage as the downhill
area, which means even when Mother Nature is working against you,
there’s still a way to ski. V

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