Want your kid to ski? This is the best school in Banff

What's the best ski school in Banff for kids? Check out my review...

Kids literally feel like they’re on top of the world once they master the mountain

I’m so loving Canada right now. The snow is gently falling  and Sunshine Village Ski Resort is now open. Bye bye boring shoulder season. Hello swooshing down the mountain and more importantly, getting my après ski on. But wait! I’ve got a kid. What to do about them? Cue the ski school.

Pretty much every resort has some kind of lessons of programs to take the youngsters off your hands. As a family, we’ve checked out many ski schools in and around Banff. We’ve also hit several resorts across Alberta and Canada, too for that matter. I like Norquay. I’ve got no beef with Lake Louise, either. There is one ski school, however, we keep going back. Whether you snowboard or are into skiing, Sunshine just might be my favourite ski school near Banff for kids.

Want your kid to ski? This is the best school in Banff

Yellow pinneys make it easy to spot ski school participants

Get schooled, fast

When we moved back to Canada from London, we’d hit Sunshine Village every Wednesday. We were both consulting, so it was no biggie to drive up to Banff on a weekday. Now, I’m no ski snob, but The Huz likes to pretend he is. He needs to snowboard Goat’s Eye mountain at least 10 times in three hours to feel like he’s had a day. But with our then three-year-old, that wasn’t likely to happen.

girl taking gondola in winter

Pro tip: Kids love riding the gondola as much as they do the mountain.

Enter Tiny Tiger’s Daycare at Sunshine Village. They take babes as young as 19-months-old. Eve was as happy as a clam with their games, lunch and getting outside to play in the snow with the other kids. The school also taught also her how to ski, of course. Tiny Tigers ride their own magic carpet in a fenced off area, allowing them to safely ride, slide or play with big soft, snow toys. Those were the glory days.

young children learning to ski

I can’t believe how wee Eve once was. That’s her in the green snowsuit.

When Eve hit school age, we switched to ski weekends. She also hit the age when she wanted to tag along with us. She didn’t want to be in school anymore. She wanted to explore the entire ski resort. Problem was, as snowboarders, we had trouble coaching her along so she could advance her skiing skills. “You just, you know, turn…” wasn’t cutting it. Luckily Sunshine had a great solution for that too, just up the hill.

The best early season ski school in Banff

It’s called Jump Start, and it’s an early season four-week ski or snowboard program starting at the end of November. One of my girlfriends Jump Start-ed her children first. When we took a little Banff ski vacation with our two families over the Christmas holidays, her kids were leaps and bounds ahead of mine.

That was proof enough. The following November I enrolled Eve in Jump Start and for real, it transformed her (and our) skiing experience. By the time the school finished in mid December, her confidence had soared. Suddenly she had morphed out of snowplowing and was linking turns.

Then disaster struck over the summer: she was bent on snowboarding the next season. She was still a bit young for a board, but she was 100% sure she was ready.

We acquiesced, and Eve started the next season on one plank instead of two. That set us back to patiently waiting while she cautiously made her way down the mountain. We hadn’t put her in a resort school. Probably we should have. No matter, that November it was back to Jump Start. This time, Eve was on a board, and it didn’t hurt that she had a friend in the program, too.

kids snowplowing on skis

There’s a lot of varied terrain at Sunshine Village for kids improve their skills

Options for ski lessons in Banff

I should’ve thought the friend thing through better. The other kid was on skis and therefore in a different lesson. Still, it made getting to the resort less of a struggle. There are bus, lunch and rental options available, but we went the basic (cheap) route. It was totally affordable. You can’t beat a full day lesson sub $50 a time. Especially in Banff National Park!

Not that many kids are on boards anymore, which is excellent news for kids taking these kind of lessons. In Eve’s case, there were only a few other kids in her Jump Start class. They didn’t always show up, so sometimes she ended up getting a private lesson from a certified, super sweet, Auzzie (natch) instructor. For the entire day! The next time we skied OK snowboarded together as a family it was bliss. Refining skills and getting that refresher at the start of the season was invaluable.

Go ahead and put yourself, your child or teen in regular lessons if you want to. (Tip: best to register for any programs in advance, not day of.) The schools are good, and you’ll always get something out of it, whether you’re a beginner or intermediate. I even nab a guide and jump into a half-day lesson once a year myself. Most resorts offer private, semi-private or the group route. At a minimum, you gain confidence and learn a few skills through the lessons. But if you live in Alberta and you really want to start your season off on the right foot, think about Jump Start.

Have you ever put your kids in a ski school either in Canada or abroad? How did that work out for your family?

This post is presented in partnership with Sunshine Village Ski Resort. Each year our family buys Sunshine Super Cards ($99 each) that give your 1st, 4th and 7th visit free. We also paid (0ur own money) to put Eve in the Jump Start program. Still, Sunshine occasionally offers me a free day of skiing, which I greedily accept. Sunshine Village did not review nor edit this post before publication. As always, my opinions are my own. 

By | 2017-11-15T09:39:11+00:00 November 6th, 2017|Categories: Health & Wellness, Travel|Tags: , , , , , , , , |18 Comments

About the Author:

I’m a freelance writer with bad hair, a loud mouth and a serious case of wanderlust. Whether it’s luggage, time or just life, I cram as much as possible into small compartments. Warning: Contents may shift during flight. My life is one bumpy ride! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest.

18 Comments

  1. Fiona Maclean 11.11.2017 at 11:58 - Reply

    Gosh, Eve looks so tiny in her ski suit! 18 months – that’s barely able to walk! But I guess she will be a great skier one day – I don’t have kids, but my friends who started their kids early (albeit in Europe) now have a Ski Instructor aged 21 in their family!

    • Jody 12.11.2017 at 18:25 - Reply

      Oh, having one in the family is very lucky!

  2. Joanna 12.11.2017 at 05:44 - Reply

    What a beautiful place to start your ski lessons at. I have always wanted to visit Banff National Park and now that Canada is giving up visas for my nationality, I will definitely go there next year. I don’t ski so I will take in consideration learning how to take over the slopes at Sunshine Village.

    • Jody 12.11.2017 at 18:25 - Reply

      Yes, please visit! Where are you from?

  3. Mei 12.11.2017 at 08:25 - Reply

    Oh wow! I didn’t know that the ski season has already started in Canada! LOL! It’s a good thing that you have your kids learn skiing now, because kids learn these kinds of things faster than adults. And they don’t get scared of heights like adults sometimes do (me! haha..) And from what I know, Banff is an awesome place, that I still need to visit some day! Honestly, I’ve never liked skiing (I learnt it in highschool when we went down to Chamonix in France, but it was such a mess!), mainly because I don’t like winter outdoor activities. 🙂

    • Jody 12.11.2017 at 18:26 - Reply

      In Canada you pretty much either embrace or hate winter. Embracing it is so much more fun:)

  4. Kirsten 12.11.2017 at 20:40 - Reply

    We have done ski school or our kids several times. It’s a great option to teach them and revisit skills they forget during the off season!

  5. Anita Hendrieka 13.11.2017 at 10:22 - Reply

    Although I don’t have kids I would love to learn to ski here myself as I have never done it before! I’m sure the kids would be better than me haha! Looks like a beautiful place to learn.

    • Jody 13.11.2017 at 10:52 - Reply

      Kids are quick learners, but adults can pick up a thing or two as well.

  6. Lisa Goodmurphy 13.11.2017 at 13:36 - Reply

    Nobody in our family can ski – perhaps we should visit Banff and take some family lessons!!

    • Jody 14.11.2017 at 08:52 - Reply

      That’s OK. There’s so much stuff for non-skiers to do on mountain now anyways. My faves at Sunshine are the Verde Day Spa and their snowshoeing and fondu excursions.

  7. Claudia 13.11.2017 at 13:57 - Reply

    Lessons for learners – whether with tiny legs or long limbs – is a must. Certainly Banff would be an amazing place to learn how to ski!

    • Jody 14.11.2017 at 08:51 - Reply

      It sure is!

  8. Veronika 14.11.2017 at 01:56 - Reply

    Hi! You totally got me into skiing mood! I can’t believe Canada already has so much snow! 😅You are right, finding the perfect skiing school for kids it’s hard. There must be some middle way between fun and learning. Glad you like Sunshine school and resort, I will stay there when I get to Canada.

    • Jody 14.11.2017 at 08:51 - Reply

      Sunshine Village is actually has the only ski-in ski-out accommodation in Banff National Park. It’s perfect for families.

  9. Christina 14.11.2017 at 07:41 - Reply

    We have not yet made it to Banff with the kids. We took them for lessons at Big White in Kelowna and they love it. Based on your description, they will definitely love Sunshine Village. Oh, how I am missing the mountains of western Canada.

    • Jody 14.11.2017 at 08:50 - Reply

      There’s a lot of space our here and the line ups are 3 min max.

  10. Alli 15.11.2017 at 08:48 - Reply

    I have never been much of a skier, and this shocks many of my non-Canadian friends. This place would be absolutely ideal for another lesson or two to brush up my skills! And the scenery is definitely the most scenic, too 🙂

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