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Skiing in 2010

Sunshine Village Banff Canada

Sunday January 17, 2010: Travel

The happy traveler

We left San Francisco airport on Sunday and traveled until 6:00pm local Banff time; so it was a long day, but not too bad as far as travel goes.However, the views of Calgary and the mountains around Banff made up for any inconveniences from the travel. A long gondola ride later and we were in Sunshine Village ski resort where our ski-in/ski-out hotel awaited us.

After check-in, and our first sampling of the hotel food, we passed into sleep and anticipation of skiing the next morning.

Monday January 18, 2010: Sunshine Village

The Sunshine Mountain Lodge

It was very cold on the 7,000 foot mountain this morning under overcast skies. We decided to take a ski lesson. This would give us a guided tour of the unfamiliar ski runs and allow us to have our annual skiing brush up. The problem with lessons these days is that most places only offer all day sessions. In the past you could take a half day, which I much prefer.

So Julia and I slipped off with our different instructors and began a day of ski training.

It was very cold all day and I had not dressed well enough to keep it out. So by the end of the day, of black-diamond ski lessons and freezing conditions, I was completely shagged out. Julia on the other hand had dressed more sensibly and had really enjoyed her day of lessons. Her skiing really improved after this.

We discovered the hotel spa that evening and after forcing down another of their substandard meals we hit the sack.

Tuesday January 19, 2010: Sunshine Village

Rock and Roll skier

We skied together all day this day and the sun shone on and off. The scenery from the top of Sunshine Village is second to none. The Canadian Rockies rambled off into distant valleys in all directions. And the varying light conditions kept the scene fresh every time we looked at it. It is an amazing place.

Julia showed off her new and improved skiing abilities this day as we stumbled about the huge and unfamiliar mountain. I made several boo boos with run selection and we had to backtrack in one case and in the other make a scary traverse across a steep, bumpy, and icy cliff face. These missteps did not endear me to Julia; but she soldiered on. It was nothing that another visit to the hotel spa could not cure.

Wednesday January 20, 2010: The Olympic Torch

The Olympic flame in its protective lamp

This morning the 2010 Winter Olympic Torch arrived at the mountain as it made its way across Canada from Athens in Greece to the Whistler Ski Resort in British Columbia. The winter games are to be held there this year. We had no idea that this was going to happen; we lucked out. In the morning a crowd of onlookers gathered in the freezing cold air and waited for the flame to arrive.

Sunrise over the Olympic mountains

Two musicians played guitar and bass guitar (with gloved hands) and kept the crowd entertained, in a muffled manor, while we waited. Then the torch party arrived with flame in hand. The crowed spontaneously broke out into the Canadian nation anthem. Much rejoicing and patriotism was had by all.

We skied more of the mountain this day, venturing to its far flung corners. It was another good day of skiing. However, the snow conditions were unseasonably lacking in fresh snow.

So the runs were mostly covered in sheets of ice. The very hard packed snow was like icy concrete. One could see that if this place had soft fresh snow on it, it would be a skiing nirvana. But as with all things skiing: you pays your money and you takes your chances. In this case we did not experience the place at its best.

Thursday January 21, 2010

The gorgeous Canadian Rockies

Our final day of skiing and the sun came out to light up the mountain. It had snowed a few inches over night so there was some improvement, but not much.

Still Julia and I managed to really enjoy ourselves this day. After another full day of skiing, the now familiar runs, we took our last spa and ate our last meal at the hotel. We were sad it was over, but at the same time glad to be heading home.

Friday January 22, 2010: Travel

Our transport off the mountain

We spent the day traveling home. We had an unfortunately long stopover at the Calgary airport, but other than this it was a pleasant trip back to the warm but rainy shores of Northern Californian.

We have to go back to Alberta as it has not shown us it full skiing potential on this our first trip to this magnificent place.


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