Late in arriving and milder than expected—that pretty much sums up the ski season for the Edmonton area so far, as scant snowfall and warm temperatures have hampered efforts to get the local hills up and running.
But once the hills are operating, there will be a wider selection of winter activities than ever to choose from, and offerings that go far beyond just traditional skiing and snowboarding down the slopes.
Terrain parks are an integral part of all the local hills these days, with features and facilities becoming more refined each season. Rabbit Hill will be making the biggest splash in the terrain park area this winter with expanded offerings in their main park along with a skier/boardercross track that promises to be the largest in the Edmonton area.
“It’s going to be geared at intermediates so the majority of customers will be able to use it,” explains Rabbit Hill’s Derek Look, director of business services. “There will be no big gap jumps or table tops because we want to get as many people into it as possible. We want to take the intimidation factor away and have it so everyone can enjoy it.”
Another new feature at Rabbit Hill this winter will be the building erected over the summer by the Canadian Association for Disabled Skiers. The 1,500 sq. ft. structure is one of the first things customers will see as they approach the lifts from the parking lot. With its large deck out front and exterior design aimed at fitting in with Rabbit Hill’s existing alpine esthetic, the building will be a significant addition to the base area.
Highlights at the ski hills within the city limits include Sunridge’s snowtubing park, which has a dedicated tubing lift, so you don’t have to walk back up the hill after each ride, and three groomed chutes permanently set aside for snowtubing.
After overcoming financial hudles earlier this fall, Edmonton Ski Club will be back in operation as soon as there is enough snow. It’s the oldest and most centrally located hill in the city and soon to be just off the new LRT line, so Edmonton Ski Club is looking for a bright future in years to come.
The city’s most popular ski hill, Snow Valley, plans to kick off the season with Winterfest, a three-day celebration highlighted by a torchlight parade to finish off the evening on Friday. Saturday and Sunday will feature a marshmallow roast, games, scavenger hunt and raffle draw. Originally planned for Dec. 2 to Dec. 4, the dates for Winterfest have been changed to Dec. 9 to Dec. 11 due to the lack of snow.
Even if Mother Nature continues to be stingy with the snow, temperatures are forecast to stay consistently below freezing. Snowmaking crews at all the local hills will be frantically pumping out their own version of the white stuff around the clock to get the slopes covered and open for skiing and snowboarding.
At this point, it looks like the first few days of December will also be the first few days the local hills are in operation. Check the websites or call their information lines for the latest information.