Canada's ski and snowboard season is just around the corner, with alpine resort opening dates starting from October 30. Here's what you can expect:
We all remember when the chairlifts stopped turning in March of 2020. As the first-wave of Covid-19 spread across Canada, most ski seasons finished early and everybody was sent home to wait.
Then winter ended with very few (authorized) turns being made that spring.
And winter came again—along with changes the ski industry had never before seen. There were enhanced hygiene and physical-distancing protocols, busier resorts implemented day-pass reservation systems, indoor dining was done in most cases and more than a few resort communities saw Covid outbreaks that kept outsiders at bay—not to mention the international crowd being all-but-nonexistent.
In short—the 2020/21 season was rife with uncertainty.
The 2021/22 season is set to be quite different. With vaccine uptake high in Canada and borders mostly open for travel, Canadian winter resorts are looking forward to a cautious and thoughtful—but ultimately positive—ski and snowboard season to come.
Jennifer Smith, Senior Communications Manager at Whistler Blackcomb, in British Columbia, anticipates a return to near-normalcy: "This season will look and feel much like a regular ski season. Pop your mask in your pocket for your indoor time, and remember to pre-book your mealtimes. Otherwise be prepared to get out there and enjoy the best of what Whistler Blackcomb has to offer—amazing skiing and riding!"
Gone are the lamented days of a day-pass reservation system; this year Whistler Blackcomb will “optimize guest movement around the resort,” by loading gondolas and lifts at normal capacities. (Masks mandated in gondolas.) As Smith indicates, dining reservations will be required—although the resort, like most others, is expecting increases over last year to indoor capacity limits. Indoor and patio dining will, of course, be subject to provincial proof-of-vaccination regulations.
Along with the provincial regs, each resort is making its own way in this new reality—Grouse Mountain, in North Vancouver, BC, recently announced that eligible guests would need to be fully-vaccinated to board the gondola, as did Alberta's Banff Sunshine Village Ski Resort, and Crabbe Mountain in New Brunswick will require all eligible guests be vaccinated as well, among others. Grouse will even be implementing its own version of the vaccine passport—VaxTrax, which allows for the one-time registration of fully-vaxxed passholders.
“Throughout the pandemic, Grouse Mountain has exceeded provincial health requirements to ensure the safety and well-being of our guests and team members,” said Michael Cameron, President of Grouse Mountain Resort. “We believe implementing this policy over the winter season will provide the strongest protection against Covid-19 to those who visit and work at the mountain.”
Grouse is not alone in wishing to safeguard its operations. The SkiBig3 resorts of Banff, Alberta—Mt. Norquay Ski Resort, Lake Louise Ski Resort and Banff Sunshine Village—will require eligible guests to provide proof of vaccination, or a negative test PCR within 72 hours of service, even to board a mountain shuttle bus.
Resorts of the Canadian Rockies (RCR), announced that, in accordance with advice given to them by the provincial health authority, all guests over the age of 12 will require proof of vaccination to ski at any of their six resorts.
Big White Ski Resort, in BC's Okanagan, will not at this time be requiring guests to be vaccinated to shred their slopes, but in a press release from mountain president, Peter Plimmer, he encouraged vaccination—citing a desire to protect staff and guests: "We have been through two seasons where we have been forced to close early. We don’t want a third."
Back at Whistler Blackcomb, with the season opener set for November 25, Jennifer Smith is focusing on the snow: "We’ve had such a great run with the snow in recent years. I honestly can’t wait to get back out there and share in the excitement of a big powder day."
Takeaways? Regulations are going to be tightly monitored—and possibly dynamic—to ensure seasons progress safely. Check with your intended hill to ensure you're in compliance. But as the snow flies, you should expect a full season at most Canadian ski hills this year—coast-to-coast.
Canadian Ski Resort Opening Dates
All listed dates are subject to change. Please check with each mountain.
Destination BC/Andrew Strain
- Powder King: November 19
- Grouse Mountain: November 20
- Sun Peaks: November 20
- Cypress Mountain: November 21 (est.)
- Whistler Blackcomb (pictured above): November 25
- Big White Ski Resort: November 25
- Silver Star Mountain Resort: November 26
- Revelstoke Mountain Resort: November 27
- Fernie Alpine Resort: December 4
- Hudson Bay Mountain: December 4
- Mount Seymour: December 5 (est.)
- Kicking Horse Mountain Resort: December 10
- Panorama Mountain Resort: December 10 (est.)
- Mount Washington Alpine Resort: December 10
- Red Mountain Resort: December 10
- Sasquatch Mountain Resort: December 10
- Apex Mountain Resort: December 11
- Kimberley Alpine Resort: December 11
- Whitewater Ski Resort: December 11
- Shames Mountain: December 11
- Manning Park Resort: TBD
- Baldy Mt. Ski Resort: TBD
- Purden Ski Village: TBD
- Mt. Norquay Ski Resort: October 30
- Lake Louise Ski Resort: November 5
- Banff Sunshine Village Ski Resort: November 11
- Marmot Basin (pictured above): November 12
- Nakiska Ski Resort: November 15 (est.)
- Castle Mountain Ski Resort: December 3
- Rabbit Hill: December 17 (est.)
- Pass Powderkeg Ski Resort: TBD
- Calgary Olympic Park—Winsport: TBD
- Misery Mountain: TBD
- Whispering Pines Ski Area: TBD
Saskatchewan & Manitoba
May Contain Studios
- Asessippi Ski Area & Resort: December 3
- Table Mountain: December 4
- Mystery Mountain: January 2
- Ski Timber Ridge: TBD
- Duck Mountain Ski Area: TBD
- Falcon Ridge Resort (pictured above): TBD
- Horseshoe Resort: December 6 (est.)
- Blue Mountain Resort (pictured above): December 9
- Calabogie Peaks Resort: December 13
- Mount St. Louis Moonstone: TBD
- Loch Lomond Ski Area: TBD
- Hockley Valley Resort: TBD
- Sir Sam's Ski/Ride: TBD
- Dagmar Ski Resort: TBD
- Antoine Mountain: TBD
- Mont Tremblant: November 25
- Mont-Sainte-Anne: November 27
- Club Med Québec Charlevoix: December 3
- Stoneham: December 11
- Bromont: December 15
- Mount Sutton: December 17
- Saint-Sauveur and Les Sommets: December 18
- Le Massif (pictured above): December 19
- Owls Head: TBD
- Mont Orford: TBD
Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism
- Marble Mountain (pictured above): January 7
- Ski Wentworth: TBD
- Ski Ben Eoin: TBD
- Crabbe Mountain: TBD
- Mont Farlagne: TBD
- Sugarloaf Provincial Park: TBD
- Smokey Mountain: TBD