We spoke to locals for the insider info:
Resort Ski Strategy: Whistler/Blackcomb (pictured)
Whether for powder or groomers, start early — it’s always worth it. Do the Fresh Tracks Mountain-Top Breakfast at least once. It gets you on the mountain before anyone else and includes a solid buffet. Otherwise, park for free at Whistler Creekside, where the base lift lines are the shortest (Blackcomb Base 2 also has free parking). Then head to the alpine as soon as you can. Around 11:00 a.m., head in for an early lunch and then ski while everyone else chows. Around 1:00 p.m., the crowds vacate the lodge, so head back in for an afternoon snack. Take the Peak-to-Peak to Blackcomb for a backcountry run off the glacier — check out backcountryskicanada.com for ideas.
Resort Ski Strategy: Banff/Lake Louise
If it’s snowing, head to Lake Louise — Sunshine Village’s below-treeline skiing is limited. Only have a few hours? Try Mt. Norquay, where you can ski by the hour and the lift lines are usually non-existent.
Lake Louise: The Larch area gets busy fast, so if you like cruising groomers, head there early. Then, reposition to the Top of the World and Paradise chairs, both rarely have lines and the advanced and expert terrain is some of the best on the mountain. ER3, off the Paradise Chair, is Michael Turcot’s (guide for White Mountain Adventures) favourite run.
Sunshine Village: On weekends, plan to be in the parking lot (15 minutes from Banff) by 8:30 a.m. to avoid an epic walk and a long gondola line. Ski the upper mountain area until it gets busy, before bumping down to Goat’s Eye in the afternoon, where you can bask in the sun and lap the steeps.
Mt. Norquay: Canmore local Louis Marino doesn’t care the North American Chair is an old, slow double and the first few turns are always dicey, because the fall-line mogul runs are some of the best around and it’s never busy.
This article originally appeared in our Winter 2014 issue.