Introduction to Ski
What is Skiing and Snowboarding?
Some would say it’s the best way to take advantage of exceptionally snowy destinations like Banff National Park!
Originating in Norway and Sweden, skiing is a sport in which the participant fixes long runners (skis) to specialized boots in order to travel on top of the surface of the snow. Legs are kept parallel to each other, and properly shaped skis allow skiers to carve turns on downhill slopes. Inspired by other sports, such as skateboarding and surfing, snowboarding was developed much later (in the 1960s and 1970s). In snowboarding the participant’s feet face sideways on the board and turns are performed with the knees always facing the same direction.
Both skiing and snowboarding can be learned on lower-angled slopes, and gradually increasing to steeper inclines.
The History of Skiing in Banff National Park
The story of skiing in Banff National Park goes back to the beginning of the 20th century. A few local Banff boys, including Cyril Paris, Peter Whyte and his brother, Clifford White, became hooked on skiing after ski jumpers from Revelstoke, British Columbia, were invited to the Banff Winter Carnival of 1917 to show off their sport. These local Banff boys, along with some others, established the Banff Ski Club, which can be credited for increasing the popularity of the sport in Banff National Park and establishing many of the area’s ski operations.
The Banff Ski Club cut the first ski runs at Mt. Norquay in 1926 (the first rope tow was installed in 1941). Skoki Lodge, Canada’s first backcountry ski chalet, was opened by members of the Banff Ski Club just beyond the Lake Louise Ski Area in 1931, and is still in operation today. The first ski runs were cut at the Lake Louise Ski Area in the late 1930s.
If you’re wondering about Sunshine Village, in the late 1920s the Canadian Pacific Railway built a cabin for the Trail Riders of the Canadian Rockies on the site of the present-day Sunshine Mountain Lodge. And while skiers had already been exploring the Sunshine area (and noted it for its superb skiing terrain), it wasn’t until 1934 that Jim Brewster, President of the Brewster Transport Company, leased the CPR cabin and hosted his first paying guests.
Since these early days, skiing has grown into a popular sport and visitors come from all over the world to experience the vast ski and snowboard terrain and incredible scenery of Banff National Park. Come see it for yourself and ski a little ways through history!
Why Ski in Banff National Park?
Because Mother Nature thought you might want to be on the top of the world.
The best thing about it? You have the chance to ride the slopes of three different ski areas, all sitting within the boundaries of a protected playground – Banff National Park. Local ski operations pride themselves in offering world-class skiing and snowboarding amongst the beautiful peaks and valleys of Canada’s flagship national park, and there’s no better time to take it in than now.
Access to the ski areas is made easy with local accommodations in Banff and Lake Louise, public transportation options, equipment rentals and ski lessons. All you need to do is show up, legs ready for some champagne powder and sweet slopes.
What You’ll Need
Banff National Park has everything you need to get out on the slopes, whether you’ve never clipped into bindings before or you’d rather leave your personal ski gear at home!