Colorado’s ski season is just a matter of weeks – perhaps only days — away, but I find my mind wandering north of the border. And no, I’m not talking about Wyoming (although I do love me some Jackson Hole and Grand Targhee). I’m talking way north of the border in the Canadian Rockies.
Last week I had the chance to preview a film series by Sherpas Cinema entitled Sculpted in Time and featuring three ski areas in a part of the world I’ve always wanted to see (and ski): Banff National Park.
Meant to highlight the various attributes of the resorts that make up the Ski Banff Lake Louise Sunshine marketing troika, the series is an inspiring collection of beautifully crafted films focusing on Mt. Norquay, Lake Louise and Sunshine Village, as well as the national park backcountry.
I saw three of the films at the beautifully high-tech eTown Hall in Boulder, and was blown away by the scenery and skiing in a part of the world I’ve always wanted to visit – just a two-hour flight straight north of Denver.
I have plenty of experience skiing Canada’s West Coast, visiting Whistler-Blackcomb numerous times since the 90s (including a stint there with the Olympic News Service at the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010), but I’ve never sampled the goods in Canada’s higher and drier interior.
The Banff resorts earlier this season joined The Mountain Collective, which for just under $400 gets you two tickets to seven of the best ski regions in the world (plus 50 percent off additional tickets), including the aforementioned Jackson Hole and Whistler-Blackcomb. It also happens to include the Aspen-Snowmass resorts, my favorite Utah resorts at Alta-Snowbird, and Mammoth, Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows in California – another area on my ski bucket list.
But it was the Banff resorts that had me salivating last week. Most Colorado snow riders, especially in Vail, know the name Lake Louise for the utter ass-kicking to the rest of the field that Lindsey Vonn delivers there in World Cup action every December.
Vonn is reportedly back on skis for the first time in 10 months after blowing out her knee twice in 2013, and she told The New York Times last week that she will focus on the speed events of downhill and super-G starting with Lake Louise in early December.
That’s not surprising. Vonn has won there 14 times, including seven straight heading into last season’s comeback attempt. She wound up 40th in her first race but rallied for fifth in a super-G there on what it later turned out was a fully blown ACL, not just a partial tear.
In January, Vonn totally shut things down, opted for another reconstructive surgery and missed the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Last week she told the Times she’s hoping for at least four wins this season (to break the all-time women’s record), a world championship medal or two in her hometown of Vail-Beaver Creek in February and one more shot at Olympic gold at the 2018 Games in South Korea.
But I digress. Lake Louise looks spectacular, but I was also drawn in by the scenes of Norquay, Sunshine and Banff itself. The place looks stellar, but don’t take my word for it. Check out the films yourself on the Ski Banff Lake Louise Sunshine website.
And do a snow dance for all of the Rocky Mountains, from Canada to New Mexico.