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Ski Area Fun: No Skis Necessary

By Where Staff

Canadian Rockies’ ski resorts have been drawing crowds for nearly a century. If skiing or boarding isn’t for you, or if you just want to try something different, there’s still plenty of fun to be had on and off the slopes.

Photo: Banff Lake Louise Tourism / Paul Zizka Photography

Photo: Banff Lake Louise Tourism / Paul Zizka Photography

Tube Park Fun

The whole family can delight in speeding down the slopes on an inflatable tube. Groomed lanes ensure safe, smooth sliding. At Lake Louise Sunny Tube Park, slide for $22 (yth $20, ch $15, -5 free). Norquay’s Tube Town (night-lit Fri/Sat) has six chutes, two lifts and a play zone with a small sliding area ($35, yth/sr $25, ch $20). Nakiska Tube Park ($19, ch $15) has an additional lane this year.


Hot Entertainment: An Old-Fashined Christmas at Harrison Mills

Snow bunnies hope the new ski season matches the 1998-99 season, when Hemlock Valley Resort received a record snowfall of more than 26 m (85 ft). Photo by Sheri Radford

For seasonal activities that hark back to the days of yore, visit the nearby Harrison Mills area. A guaranteed white Christmas is the star attraction at Hemlock Valley Resort (pictured), with its skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and tubing. The season opens Dec. 7, weather permitting. When off the mountain, the mild weather doesn’t often allow for horse-drawn sleigh rides, but a carriage ride is just as fun. Contact the Veinotte Horse Farm to arrange an excursion. Step back in time at Kilby Historic Site: wander through the 1906 general store, visit the farm animals, stock up on local crafts and homemade jams in the gift shop, and nibble on a turkey and cranberry sandwich in the restaurant. The site is open Dec. 6 to 17, with special visits by Santa Dec. 8 and 9. Throughout the month, bring your appetite to the Rivers Edge Restaurant and feast on a three-course holiday dinner, complete with turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes and pie. It tastes like the Christmases of yesteryear, only better.—Sheri Radford

Three Days at Banff’s “Big Three” Ski Resorts


Lake Louise ski resort (Photo: Drew Douglas)

Spring may be around the corner, but the ski season in the Canadian Rockies lasts until May, so you’ve got plenty of time to hit the slopes! (more…)

What’s New at Quebec’s Top Ski Resorts this Winter

Photo by Oliver Croteau

By Merle Rosenstein

Quebec’s main ski centres—Mont Tremblant, Mont-Sainte-Anne and Le Massif—challenge outdoor adventure-seekers with unnerving elevations and pristine powder. Strap on some skis and find out what’s new this season. (more…)

Staff Picks: 10 Shops for Skiers and Boarders

Photo by Skistar Trysil

Whether you ski downhill or cross-country, or if you prefer to slide the slopes on a single plank, these ski and board shops will outfit you with the equipment, outerwear and accessories you need for a day of dashing through the snow.

Bikes & Boards
When you want to carve up a snowy mountainside and look good doing it, this Sporting Life-branded store is the place to gear up. Find snowboards, boots and bindings, as well as stylish jackets and goggles from brands like Burton, Volcom and Salomon. 2454 Yonge St., 416-485-4440.

Thanks to a staff that’s knowledgeable and passionate about all sports involving a board of some kind, you’re sure to find the right snowboard to suit your riding style and skill level. Arbor, Drake and Flow are just a few of the cool brands kept in stock. 2010 Yonge St., 416-485-9463.

Hogtown Extreme Sports
Everything you need to snowboard—aside from the slanted, snow-swept plot of land—is available at this store. Naturally, there are snowboards aplenty, as well as a fine selection of boots, jackets, pants, helmets and board bags. Waxing and sharpening services are also offered. 401 King St. W., 416-598-4192.

Kenmark Snowsports
The jaunt north to Richmond Hill is worth it to reach this 6,000-square-foot repository for skis, snowboards and more. Since 1980 is winter-loving staff have been recommending all the right equipment for your slippery escapades, from brands like Dakine, Spyder, Rossignol and Marmot. 10720 Yonge St., 905-883-5586.

Mountain Equipment Co-Op
Recreational and expert cross-country skiers alike head to this venerable outdoor store to find all the equipment they need for a day in the snow—from skis and poles to jackets and backpacks, and even sleeping bags if you’re planning a longer backcountry journey. If you’re wary of commitment, MEC offers ski and snowshoe rentals, too. 400 King St. W., 416-340-2667.


15 Extreme Canadian Winter Activities

By Meghan Wilson-Smith

It doesn’t take long for Canadians to feel the doldrums of winter start to take hold. But, being the clever Canucks that we are, we’ve figured out exciting ways to make winter full of exploration and adventure. From cave exploration to kite boarding (on ice) to dog sledding, winter can be a time when your best vacation memories are made. Let’s stop hibernating! It’s time to appreciate Canada for the winter wonderland it is. (more…)

The Great Outdoors

Wondering what to do on your Whistler vacation? Where has you covered on the hunt for sunny summer fun

By Jennifer Patterson

Ziplining through the trees with WildPlay Element Parks. Photo courtesy WildPlay Element Parks

Channel your inner daredevil with a ride on mountain bike jumps and runs in Skiers’ Plaza. If you’re looking for something a little more easygoing, rent a bike to explore smoother, less vertical terrain, as mountain biking is the summer sport here.
Harness your adventurous spirit and hop on the back of a 4×4 vehicle to join expert Michael Allen on a bear watching tour, including stops at favourite feeding sites and daybeds—don’t forget your camera! Channel John Wayne on your own trusty steed with a horseback ride through the wild countryside. Prefer horsepower to horses? Kick up some dust in the backcountry on a quad or dirt bike.
Feed your adrenaline rush with a free-falling plunge off a bungee jump. Slightly more sane individuals go ziplining through the trees. For the even saner, glass-bottomed cabins on two of the Peak 2 Peak Gondolas offer enough of a thrill—and don’t require harnesses.
Find your inner Zen master with a day of peace and tranquillity on the stunning golf courses and fish-filled rivers. For a quiet getaway, rent a canoe or kayak, don some life jackets and explore the pristine lakes. Nature enthusiasts breathe the crisp mountain air while hiking the meadows and trails surrounding Whistler.
Have your camera at the ready, as aerial sightseeing tours and helicopter rides provide snap-happy shutterbugs and sightseers the perfect opportunity to capture the sweeping panorama.
If you haven’t tired of the snow, strap on your skis and snowboards and head to the Horstman Glacier, open through July for sun-filled summer skiing.
For activities listings, click here.

Hot Entertainment: Hit the Slopes

Photo courtesy Tourism Vancouver and Tourism Whistler

What do you get when you take the best skiing and snowboarding in the world, throw in some fabulous fashion shows and rockin’ parties, then add outdoor concerts by the likes of Tokyo Police Club, Gogol Bordello, Black Mountain, Broken Social Scene, Fort Knox Five and Mat the Alien? You get the 10 fun-filled days (and nights) of the Telus World Ski & Snowboard Festival (Apr. 15 to 24) in nearby Whistler. Party on.—Sheri Radford

Ready, Set… Go!

Halifax hosts the 2011 Canada Games—the biggest sports event in Nova Scotian history

By Christina Copp and Trevor J. Adams

In February, all eyes will be on Halifax as it hosts the Canada Games. Running from February 11 to 27, the Games will be the largest multi-sport competition in Canada in 2011.

Sports fans have lot to look forward to during the Games. “Essentially, [there are] 20 different sports, so it’s like putting on 20 national championships over 18 days,” says Melissa MacKinnon, director of communications for the Games. She suggests that outdoor sports fans head over to the long-track speed skating at the new Oval on the Halifax Common. Admission is free.

All of the events at both ski venues are also free for fans. A 45-minute drive northwest of Halifax, Martock in Windsor hosts cross-country, biathlon and snowboard competitions Freestyle and alpine skiing take place at Wentworth, an 80-minute drive north.Other highlights include gymnastics, badminton and synchronized swimming at the new Canada Games Centre in Clayton Park, hockey at the Dartmouth Sportsplex and Halifax Metro Centre and boxing at the Halifax Forum. A 40-minute drive west of the city, the St. Margaret’s Centre in St. Margaret’s Bay hosts short-track speed skating and figure skating. The Metro Centre also hosts the opening ceremonies.

The party will continue after the athletes’ days are done, too. “Celebration Square in Grand Parade will be the place to be each evening,” says MacKinnon. The concert venue in front of Halifax City Hall will feature acts like The Stanfields, Christina Martin and Matt Mays. Martin, a multiple Nova Scotia Music Award Winner, was one of more than 300 acts who submitted their names to perform during the Games cultural festivities.

“I applied to perform during the Canada Games because I want to be a part of this monumental event that is taking place on my home turf,” says Christina Martin. “After experiencing the excitement from performing at the Vancouver Winter Olympics, I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of this fantastic event.”

Games CEO Chris Morrissey is excited about the potential to bring Haligonians, athletes and visiting sports fans together. “Everyone can come together to celebrate athletic achievements while enjoying live entertainment that showcases Nova Scotia talent and culture,” he says.

Running from February 11 to 27, the Games embrace a wide variety of disciplines. For schedule and venue details, click here or phone 902-490-2011.

Hitting the Peaks

With winter activities galore, Vancouver’s snow-capped mountains offer more than just spectacular scenery

By Kristina Urquhart

Meghan and Mat take a break after a satisfying trek on Grouse Mountain’s snowshoe trails. Photo by KK Law

Grouse Mountain
One glance south from the top of Grouse Mountain and you’ll see why it’s one of Vancouver’s most photographed views. On a clear day, the city stretches out below you; on a foggy day, it looks as if you’re about to ski into the clouds. Skiers and snowboarders carve fresh powder through snow-dusted trees on the mountain’s 26 runs or practice tricks in two terrain parks. Get a different—but equally exhilarating—kind of adrenaline rush on the four groomed trails in the Munday Alpine Snowshoe Park, where you can attend clinics to learn to master this popular winter activity or embark on a fondue snowshoe tour. If you’re not quite tuckered out, take a two-hour tour on five ziplines or lounge in a Sno-Limo as an experienced guide pushes you down the mountainside. Make like Canadian figure skating darling Joannie Rochette and practice spins and turns on the 743-square-metre (8,000-square-foot) skating pond. Cap off your snow day with a picturesque sleigh ride through the mountain forests, then warm up with a hot chocolate by the fire in the Peak Chalet.

Cypress Mountain
This venue shot to fame last February when it hosted the freestyle skiing and snowboard competitions during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. The mega mountain is home to 53 runs (including four double black diamond), nine lifts and the North

A snowboarder on the half pipe at Cypress Mountain. Photo by Insight Photography courtesy Tourism BC

Shore’s tallest skiable peak at 1,646 metres (5,400 feet). Feeling gutsy? Unleash your inner Alexandre Bilodeau on the moguls run (gold medal not included). If you prefer Nordic over alpine, Cypress is the only mountain in Vancouver with cross-country ski trails. Get your heart pumping on 10 kilometres (six miles) of self-guided snowshoe trails or indulge in a snowshoe fondue tour. Tubing is fun for the whole family—there’s a separate sliding area nearby for tots aged three to five.

Mount Seymour
Snow bunnies hit the slopes at this alpine paradise, a favourite for its four terrain parks with features like jumps and rails. Ski or snowboard 39 runs of varying difficulty or traverse 10 kilometres (six miles) on the Discovery Snowshoe Trails on your own or with a guide. Fondue tours are offered here, too—inquire about the Valentine’s Day chocolate fondue snowshoe tour at 7 p.m. on Feb. 14. Kids and adults alike love zooming down the peak at high speeds, whether in the tube park or the eight-run Toboggan Park. If you haven’t packed your own toboggan, purchase a sliding carpet for a dizzying spin down the mountainside.

For more details on local mountains, click here. For information on Whistler Blackcomb, ask your concierge for a copy of Where Whistler or click here.

Winter Wonderland

Skiing, snowboarding—and a whole lot of other outdoor adventures

By Sheri Radford

Photo by Bonny Makarewicz courtesy Tourism Whistler

Snow bunnies already know about the unparalleled snowboarding and skiing—everything from downhill and cross-country to para- and heli-skiing—on Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, but those not addicted to schussing also find much to enjoy.

Tubing is ideal for klutzes, since no skill is required. As long as you can sit in an inner tube and let gravity lead the way, you’re set.
Ziplining requires a tad more ability, since you have to walk (or roll along in an all-terrain wheelchair) between launching platforms. But guides take care of the challenging parts, such as getting participants into climbing harnesses and helmets before clipping them onto ziplines.

Adrenaline junkies choose the thrill of bungee jumping or snowmobiling, while those yearning for a good old-fashioned winter opt for ice hockey on a frozen mountaintop pond or snowshoeing through a dense forest. Animal-lovers like to ride in a horse-drawn sleigh or get pulled across the countryside by a dogsledding team. (Whistler may not have the Iditarod, but it does have lots of eager huskies ready to recreate the exhilarating experience.)

The best part about a long day spent in the snow? Warming up afterwards, beside a crackling fire, with a steaming mug of cocoa.

For activities listings, click here.

Hot Dining: Wonders of Whistler

Seared Qualicum Bay scallops with chorizo, Pemberton corn and mustard vinaigrette, at Araxi. Photo by Steve Li

Even if mountain biking, ziplining, hiking, bear watching and snowboarding on a glacier aren’t your thing, Whistler still has plenty to offer. The food alone is worth the two-hour drive, at much-lauded restaurants such as Araxi (pictured) and Bearfoot Bistro. Bring a camera—and an appetite.—Sheri Radford