You don’t need skis or a snowboard to enjoy these activities and events. By Kirsten Varsek
Speeding down the slopes on an inflatable tube is a delight for the whole family; groomed lanes ensure safe and smooth sliding. Nakiska Tube Park is the latest ($19, child $15), while Mt Norquay’s Tube Town (night-lit Fri and Sat) now boasts six chutes, two dedicated lifts and a kids’ play zone with a small sliding area ($30, child $20). At Lake Louise Sunny Tube Park you slide for $20 (youth $16).
Ptarmigan Ridge Tours at Lake Louise Ski Area ($59) with gondola ride and incredible views are suitable for beginners. Sunshine Village Top of the World tours ($72) with Banff shuttle, and gondola and chairlift ride, are operated by White Mountain Adventures. At Mt Norquay, three snowshoe trails begin at the base; rentals are $15, $10 for juniors.
Ski Big 3’s Tri-Area Sightseeing Ticket ($40, $30 ch) lets non-skiers see the scenery and action at Lake Louise, Sunshine Village and Mt Norquay. It includes shuttle to the ski areas, $12 food voucher, and gondola and chairlift rides. At Norquay, ride the same lift to the historic Teahouse as did Marilyn Monroe.
Bypass the cafeteria for a leisurely lunch at these table-service restaurants:
• Lake Louise: Indulge in gourmet pizza and Belgian beer at Powder Keg Lounge or a breakfast buffet and upscale lunch at their new Northface Bistro. At Sawyer’s Nook in backside Temple Lodge (ski access only) sit in the loft with vaulted beam ceilings; find two friends for a ‘shot ski’.
• Sunshine Village: Sit by the fireplace or glass ‘view’ wall at Chimney Corner Lounge. Try historic Mad Trapper’s Saloon for smoke-house fare, and spring weekend Veuve Clicquot champagne and oyster bar. ‘Taste of Sunshine’ Friday dinners at Eagle Nest include gondola access.
• Nakiska: Mammoth Big Nak burgers (Ski Canada magazine’s ‘best big bun’) are served in the upstairs lounge with fireplace, balcony and big screen sports.
• Marmot Basin: Eagle Dining Room and Charlie’s Lounge in mid-mountain Eagle Chalet (the area’s oldest building) display historic ski gear and photos and maintain the authenticity of the ski area’s early days. Big decks beckon on sunny days.
Best Races & Festivals
Watch the world’s top racers prepare for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics during these marque events:
• Lake Louise Winterstart World Cup: Nov 30 men’s downhill; Dec 1 men’s super-G; Dec 6 women’s downhill; Dec 7 women’s Super G. This is an annual event.
• Lake Louise Snowboard Cross World Cup: Dec 20-21; Over 20 nations battle for gold; Canada’s ladies team includes last years World Cup champion and defending Olympic gold medalist Maelle Ricker.
• Nakiska Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup: Dec 6-7 4-lane course with jumps and tight turns.
• After Sochi (but fun to watch) is Lake Louise Canadian Powder 8 Championship: Mar 1 teams of two carve steep slopes.
Join the fun at these on-hill parties:
• Lake Louise: Torchlight Dinner & Ski (Dec 25 and 31, Feb 14, Mar 14; $69) mid-mountain drinks, torch-lit ski, buffet and band. Mountain Takeover weekends in Apr with live music, DJ-hosted BBQs and Apr 12 Cardboard Box Downhill Derby sled races. Monster Energy Ruckus in the Rockies May 2-3 snowboard jams, live music, Sat night after party and May 3 Bikinis for Breast Cancer women’s group ski.
• Sunshine Village: Bikinis & Boardshorts May 18 breast cancer research fundraiser. Slush Cup May 19 icy pond jump attempts.
• Nakiska: Apr TBA Spring Fiesta.
• Norquay: Cardboard Sled Derby Jan 25 races. 80s Day Apr 5 retro suits and tunes.
• Marmot: Jasper in January Jan 17-Feb 2 in-town and on-hill music, free dog sledding and sleigh rides, and fireworks.